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Customer Service at the IRS Is So Bad, Even Tax Pros Are Fed Up

As tax season approaches, the agency is short-staffed, underfunded, and so overwhelmed with calls that even a phone number for VIPs is a bust.

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Illustration: Nadia Hafid for Bloomberg Businessweek

Tax preparer Jan Roberg rang what she calls the “bat phone”: a dedicated customer service line at the Internal Revenue Service that’s supposed to connect professionals like her to a human right away. She was put on hold, as she figured she would be. So she went to the Burger King next to her office to pick up lunch.

She was still on hold when she got back. “Even five years ago, I would get through right away,” says Roberg, of St. Louis. Now it typically takes more than an hour.