IRS News Release  
March 10, 1993

More Taxpayers Get Help with A Single Call

WASHINGTON - More taxpayers are finding that one call does it all when phoning the Internal Revenue Service with questions about their tax accounts. From October throughout the end of February, over 3.3 million taxpayers resolved their account questions while on the line to the IRS, up from 1.8 million taxpayers from the same period last year. This represents nearly 82 percent of all accounts questions during this period.

One reason for the improved customer service is an IRS initiative to provide its assistors with on-line computer access to various account data, regardless of where the taxpayer originally filed the return. The system includes more detailed records on tax returns filed since 1990.

Previously, the IRS assistors could get immediate information only for taxpayers who filed at one IRS center -- the one connected with the assistor's computer terminal. Other inquiries faced at least a one-day wait for the assistor to receive the information needed to help the caller.

To take advantage of this computer enhancement, the IRS has expanded the authority of its telephone assistors to make changes to account files. Some things -- such as penalty abatements and address changes -- may be completed by phone. And when paper records are needed, taxpayers will usually mail items to a local office rather than an IRS center.

For example, if a man who filed in Pennsylvania and later moved to Texas gets a penalty notice forwarded to him, he can call the IRS in Texas to report his change of address and find out if he qualifies to have a penalty abated. Or if he needs the amount of mortgage interest he's deducted for the last two years, it's readily available.

Formerly, the IRS assistor could only put in a request for the account information during the taxpayer's call. The taxpayer might then wait a couple of weeks to receive a written reply. Requests for tax return details -- other than income, tax or refund totals -- usually meant a four-to-six week wait just for the return to be retrieved from storage.

One-stop account service will continue to grow as IRS replaces obsolete computer terminals under its Tax Systems Modernization program. This will give local IRS offices offering walk-in help the same capability as the toll-free telephone sites to use the improved system.

As of March 5, the IRS had received 43.3 million returns and sent out 21.5 million refunds, worth $22.34 billion. At $1,040, the average refund is up two percent over this time last year.


     Cumulative through the week ending 3/6/92 and 3/5/93
                     1992           1993     % Change
Individual Income Tax Returns

Total Receipts    47,100,000     43,275,000    -8.1
Total Processed   33,811,000     30,707,000    -9.2

Filing Alternatives -- Total Receipts :

Electronic Filing  8,756,000     9,820,000     12.2
1040PC Format        544,000     1,578,000    190.0
TeleFile             108,000       124,000     14.8

Refunds Certified by the Martinsburg Computing Center:

Number              23,075,000    21,486,000   -6.9
Amount of principal $23.534 bil. $22.352 bil.  -5.0
Average Refund       $1,020       $1,040        2.0

(NOTE: these amounts should NOT be compared to the "processed" numbers above, since those figures reflect Service Center processing, which is completed at least a week before refunds are certified at the Computing Center.

Taxpayer Service Filing Season Statistics

                  through 3/7/92        through 3/6/93
Toll-free phone
Calls answered    9,826,671              9,673,510

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