IRS To Close 68 Taxpayer Assistance Centers

The IRS just announced plans to close 68 of its Taxpayer Assistance Centers as part of a modernization effort to streamline operations…

The Internal Revenue Service recently announced plans to close 68 of its Taxpayer Assistance Centers as part of the agency’s continuing efforts to modernize operations and reduce costs while maintaining its commitment to taxpayer service.

The IRS currently operates 400 Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TACs) that provide walk-in service for taxpayers. The agency will close 68 of those locations this fall. IRS officials said the decision was based on an objective model that weighed five criteria with multiple components, including workload considerations, geographic factors, demographics, employee costs and facility costs. Out of 2,300 employees who operate the TACs nationwide, IRS officials indicated that fewer than 450 employees work in the affected centers. As the agency’s budget allows, qualifying employees may be offered early out retirements and buyouts. Most employees should be entitled to priority placement for other jobs within the IRS and other Treasury bureaus.

The closures reflect fundamental changes in how taxpayers file their taxes and access tax information. In recent years, the use of and e-filing increased rapidly, while face-to-face interactions with taxpayers declined. This year, the majority of tax returns were filed electronically, marking the first time in history that e-filing outpaced paper returns, IRS officials stated.

“We’ve made significant improvements in service in recent years. The walk-in sites are our most costly service vehicle, and we find taxpayers prefer to use our toll-free phone lines where their questions can be routed to subject matter experts,” said IRS Commissioner Mark W. Everson “Like most other federal agencies, we’re being asked to create efficiencies and be responsible with taxpayers’ dollars. Using objective criteria, we’re creating these efficiencies where they’ll have the least impact on good service.”

Adjusting the number of TAC sites will allow the IRS to focus on activities that provide the most efficient services. At the same time, taxpayers will still have access to a variety of IRS services, either by phone, through and from neighboring TAC offices and IRS volunteer tax assistance programs.

In recent testimony assessing the IRS FY 2006 budget request, the Government Accountability Office stated: “In light of the current budget environment and IRS’s improvements in taxpayer service over the last several years, this is an opportune time to reconsider the menu of services it provides.”

The IRS recognizes the cost benefits of alternates to walk-in offices for services as well. For example, the IRS’s cost of preparing a tax return at a VITA site is $19, compared to the $46 it costs to prepare the same return at a TAC. Downloading forms from the IRS website costs less than one dollar, while distributing a form at a TAC costs $9. Tax law questions can also be answered much less expensively ($11) – and with more accuracy and a higher customer satisfaction rate – through the toll-free lines than at a TAC ($22).

Face-to-face contact is the most expensive method of customer service, and the number of visitors to TACs has dropped as use of the IRS web site has dramatically increased. In Fiscal Year 2004, visitors to TACs were down 1.26 million from the prior year, and down nearly 2 million from Fiscal Year 2002. At the same time, the number of visits to and the number of web page views climbed 128 percent and 155 percent, respectively, between fiscal 2002 and 2004.

The use of “Where’s My Refund,” an on-line service that provides refund status information formerly available only by calling the toll-free line or visiting a TAC, was up 1,316 percent from FY 2002 to FY 2004. Internet based services such as “Where’s My Refund” enable taxpayers to get answers without going to an IRS office.

The continued growth of e-filing also is a factor, with 66.5 million tax returns e-filed this year. There are fewer taxpayer errors with electronic filing, which means fewer calls and visits to the IRS following up on tax return issues.

Following is the complete list of Taxpayer Assistance Centers that will close later this year:

Arizona Phoenix 2400 West Dunlap
Arizona Bullhead City 3090 Highway 95
Arizona Lake Havasu City 2610 Sweetwater Avenue
Arizona Yuma 2450 South 4th Avenue
California San Marcos 1 Civic Center Drive
California Bakersfield 5300 California Avenue
California El Centro 2345 South 2nd Street
California Santa Rosa 777 Sonoma Avenue
California Santa Barbara 1332 Anacapa Street
California Fresno 5104 North Blythe Street
California Camarillo 751 Daily Drive
Colorado Colorado Springs 2864 South Circle Drive
Connecticut Hartford 135 High Street
Connecticut New Haven 150 Court Street
Florida Plantation 7850 SW 6th Court
Florida Saint Petersburg 9450 Koger Boulevard
Florida Fort Myers 2891 Center Pointe Drive
Georgia Atlanta 2888 Woodcock Blvd
Idaho Idaho Falls 1820 E. 17th Street
Idaho Pocatello 611 Wilson Avenue
Illinois Downers Grove 2001 Butterfield Road
Indiana Fort Wayne 1415 Directors Row
Maine Augusta 68 Sewell Street / 40 West
Maine South Portland 220 Maine Mall Road
Maryland Salisbury 212 W. Main Street
Maryland Annapolis 190 Admiral Cochrane Drive
Maryland Wheaton 11510 Georgia Avenue
Maryland Frederick 201 Thomas Johnson Drive
Massachusetts Pittsfield 78 Center Street
Massachusetts Fitchburg 881 Main Street
Massachusetts Quincy 1250 Hancock Street
Massachusetts Hyannis 247 Stevens Street
Minnesota Minneapolis 250 Marquette Avenue
Missouri Springfield 3333 South National
Montana Bozeman 220 W. Lamme Street
Montana Great Falls AA 5th Street North # 11
Montana Missoula 2681 Palmer Street
Nevada Reno 200 South Virginia Street
New Hampshire Keene 196 Main Street
New Hampshire Portsmouth 80 Daniel Street
New Jersey Edison 100 Dey Place
New Jersey Parsippany 1719 C Route 10
New Jersey Fairfield 165 Passaic Avenue
New Jersey Paramus 1 Kalisa Way
New York New York 290 Broadway — Foley Square
New York Bronx 1200 Waters Place
New York Hauppauge 1180 Veterans Memorial Highway
New York Kingston 153 Sawkill Road
New York West Nyack 242 West Nyack Road
New York Albany Clinton Avenue & North Pearl
New York Brooklyn 625 Fulton Street
North Carolina Greensboro 320 Federal Place
North Carolina Wilmington 3904 Oleander Drive
Pennsylvania York 2801 Eastern Boulevard
Pennsylvania Washington 162 West Chestnut Street
South Carolina Charleston 1 Poston Road
Texas Austin 825 East Rundberg Lane
Texas Dallas 1100 Commerce Street
Utah Provo 173 East 1st 100 North
Vermont Brattleboro 1222 Putney Street
Vermont Rutland Eastridge Building, Route 4
Virginia Hampton 903 Gateway Boulevard
Virginia Baileys Crossroad 5205 Leesburg Pike
Washington Silverdale 9833 Poplars Avenue, NW, #105
Wisconsin Eau Claire 2403 Folsom Street
Wisconsin Madison 545 Zor Shrine Place
Wisconsin Green Bay 1920 Libal Street
Wyoming Sheridan 1949 Sugarland Drive

About the Author

Ralph Smith has several decades of experience working with federal human resources issues. He has written extensively on a full range of human resources topics in books and newsletters and is a co-founder of two companies and several newsletters on federal human resources. Follow Ralph on Twitter: @RalphSmith47