IRS says it has a plan to reduce backlog: Hire 5,000 workers — no tax experience needed
The IRS started the current tax season with a massive backlog of tax returns, prompting the National Taxpayer Advocate to describe the agency as "in crisis." Now, the IRS says it has a plan to work through its current backlog of 7.2 million filings: Hire 5,000 workers this month — no tax experience necessary.
The tax agency on Thursday said it will hold job fairs on March 16, 23 and 30 at its processing centers in Austin, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; and Ogden, Utah. Applicants will be offered jobs on the spot, the agency said.
"Available positions include temporary, term and permanent jobs. Many are entry-level clerk and tax examiner positions in the Wage and Investment Division," the agency said. "No prior tax experience is required."
The Wage and Investment Division handles tasks including processing taxpayer submissions and payments, as well as providing filers with updates about the status of their returns.
The IRS is attempting to make a major hiring push at a time when the labor market is historically tight, with not enough workers to fill the nation's current pool of 11.3 million open positions. Workers are also engaged in the so-called "Great Resignation," with many quitting their jobs in search of better pay and opportunities.
The IRS might struggle to lure workers based on pay alone: Federal workers are guaranteed a minimum wage of at least $15 an hour. Annual pay rates being dangled by the IRS range from about $23,000 to up to about $47,000.
The agency may find that competition for talent is fierce at a time when employers are raising pay to entice job candidates.
"Those who wish to work with customer service as their focus are encouraged to apply," Ken Corbin, IRS taxpayer experience officer and wage and investment commissioner, said in a statement. "This is gratifying work — as these newly hired individuals will process tax returns and deliver refunds to the nation's taxpayers."
Once given an offer, applicants should expect to begin work at the IRS within 30 to 45 days, the agency said.
Another 5,000 hires in 2023
The IRS said it also plans to hire another 5,000 workers in 2023.
Since about 82,000 workers were employed at the IRS in fiscal year 2021, an increase of 10,000 employees within two years would represent a significant boost to the agency's workforce. It could also return the agency to its 2010 level of about 94,000 employees.
Separately, the IRS said it has also started to use voice and chat bots on two of its toll-free telephone assistance lines and at IRS.gov, which it said will help taxpayers get answers quickly. That comes after only 1 in 10 phone calls got through to an IRS employee last season, leading to frustration among taxpayers trying to get answers about their refund delays.
The IRS said the bots can answer questions about making one-time payments, provide answers to FAQs and clarify collection notices.
The agency said the voice bots will handle more complicated issues later this year, such as authenticating a user's identity to create a payment plan, request a transcript and get information about their accounts.
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