IRS spends $43,000 per year on unused licences…and that’s just for one bit of software

IRS spends $43,000 per year on unused licences…and that’s just for one bit of software

Almost a third of the 2,500 licences for the software that allows IRS agents to view or change in-person appointments have never been used.

Published on 5th June 2024

The IRS runs 363 in-person Taxpayer Assistance Centers to help people fill out their taxes or get legal advice.

But the process for changing or cancelling an appointment at one of the centers creates a “burden” for taxpayers because many IRS customer service agents don’t have access to the software that lets them view or change in-person appointments.

There’s a baffling reason for that: the agency pays for 2,500 software licenses each year so agents can edit appointments, but auditors found 768 licenses not even being used.

Each license costs $56 annually, so that’s $43,000 spent last year on the unused licenses.

When customers call the IRS to edit or cancel an appointment, they are instructed to hang up and call a different “Appointment Telephone Line” number.

Agents were not allowed to transfer calls directly to the Appointment Telephone Line, though managers could not explain to auditors why this policy is in place. It was changed last December.

Even some agents working the Appointment Telephone Line don’t have access to the correct software. They’re forced to transfer calls to yet another IRS agent who can finally provide assistance. There were 144,005 transferred calls in fiscal year 2023, according to the audit report.

Last year 75,000 people did not show up to scheduled in-person appointments at Taxpayer Assistance Centers, which auditors said is likely because they got frustrated with customer service and gave up on cancelling their appointment.

The $43,000 the IRS spent on its unused software licenses is just a tiny fraction of the agency’s total budget, but it’s representative of much larger issues with tax simplicity and transparency.


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