Yellen calls for modernized IRS at Maryland field office

Sep 15, 2022, 8:25 AM | Updated: 11:48 am
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen listens as she tours the IRS New Carrolton Federal Building, Thursd...

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen listens as she tours the IRS New Carrolton Federal Building, Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022, in Lanham, Md. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

(AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

NEW CARROLLTON, Md. (AP) — Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen laid out her vision for a modernized, responsive, tech-savvy tax collection agency equipped to manage 21st century challenges at an IRS office in New Carrollton, Maryland, on Thursday.

Yellen said the agency plans to hire 5,000 new customer service representatives to vastly improve taxpayer service before the next filing season, using part of the money from a recent $80 billion infusion of funds from the so-called Inflation Reduction Act.

Yellen gave her address against the backdrop of false narratives pushed by Republicans regarding the thousands of new IRS workers expected to be hired with the money under the new law approved last month. GOP representatives say the IRS will be targeting the taxes of working-class Americans with armed auditing agents.

She said she wanted to focus on giving the IRS the ability to digitize paper tax returns as well as answering phones that have been ringing off the hook.

This was Yellen’s first visit to an IRS facility as treasury secretary. Her speech to several thousand employees also addressed the importance of their work at a pivotal time in the agency’s history.

“The Inflation Reduction Act finally provides the funding to transform the IRS into a 21st century agency,” she said. “For taxpayers, this means faster processing and faster refunds.”

Getting the agency increased funding was even recently considered a pipe dream, as administration officials have long talked about how IRS computer systems run on outdated technology and getting adequate customer service has turned into a cottage industry.

In Maryland, Yellen talked about updating computer systems to help automate the scanning of millions of individual paper returns into a digital copy by next filing season, bolstering enforcement on high-wealth taxpayers and companies, and hiring thousands more people to answer the phones.

“For too long, IRS Tax Assistance Centers have been massively understaffed and under-resourced. No longer,” she said. “By next year, every single center will be fully staffed,” which will provide an estimated 2.7 million taxpayers with in-person assistance, she said.

Last month, shortly after the IRA funding was secured, Yellen directed the IRS to develop a plan within six months outlining how the tax agency will overhaul its technology, customer service and hiring processes. In part, the improvements are meant to “end the two-tiered tax system, where most Americans pay what they owe, but those at the top of the distribution often do not,” Yellen said in an August memo to IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig, whose term ends in November.

The White House said it has not yet chosen a successor for Rettig.

Yellen’s speech comes as Republican lawmakers have distorted how the tax collection agency will spend the multi-billion dollar infusion of funds.

Republican leaders, including House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, and Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Ga., have tweeted false claims about how many workers the agency intends to hire.

During her speech, Yellen said “by hiring 5,000 additional customer service representatives,” by next tax season “we will also cut phone wait times in half — from an average wait of nearly 30 minutes during the 2022 filing season to less than 15 minutes.”

“Especially amid the recent rise in deeply unfair and dangerous misinformation and threats, there is nothing more important to me than for you to be able to safely carry out your critical job for the American people,” she said.

Responding to an increasing number of threats born of conspiracy theories that agents were going to aggressively target middle income taxpayers, the IRS announced last month that it was conducting a review of safety at its facilities.

Yellen is on a monthlong tour, which is part of a larger White House campaign, to highlight new laws intended to repair the economy, boost computer chip manufacturing, lower prescription drug prices, expand clean energy and revamp the country’s infrastructure.

Yellen said she wants to restore fairness to the tax code by ensuring wealthy Americans and big corporations pay the taxes they owe. “In sum, high earners are paying far less than they owe,” she said.

“The tax gap – the amount of unpaid taxes – has grown to enormous levels. It’s estimated at $7 trillion over the next decade,” she said.

In her address, she also commended IRS employees for stepping up during the pandemic and helping to deliver Advance Child Tax Credits and three rounds of stimulus checks.

“While all the improvements won’t be done overnight,” she said, “taxpayers can expect to feel real differences during the next filing season.”

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Fire breaks out at world’s biggest produce market in Paris

PARIS (AP) — A billowing column of dark smoke towered over Paris on Sunday from a warehouse blaze at a massive produce market that supplies the French capital and surrounding region with much of its fresh food and bills itself as the largest of its kind in the world. Firefighters urged people to stay away […]
7 hours ago
President of Malawi Lazarus Chakwera addresses the 77th session of the United Nations General Assem...
Associated Press

‘Multilateral’? Global South’s leaders question solidarity

DAKAR, Senegal (AP) — The United Nations was established on one simple notion above all others: Working together is better than going it alone. But while the term “multilateralism” might be trending at this year’s U.N. General Assembly, some leaders are calling out the heads of richer nations. Whether it’s the global response to the […]
7 hours ago
FILE--Vanessa Caudel, a nurse, sits at her work station in the Great Circle treatment center  on Fe...
Associated Press

Critics: Oregon’s move to decriminalize hard drugs a failure

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Two years after Oregon residents voted to decriminalize hard drugs and dedicate hundreds of millions of dollars to treatment, few people have requested the services and the state has been slow to channel the funds. When voters passed the state’s pioneering Drug Addiction Treatment and Recovery Act in 2020, the emphasis […]
7 hours ago
Evidence tape is seen with a Sexual Assault Evidence Collection Kit in an examination room, Wednesd...
Associated Press

Texas vow to ‘eliminate all rapists’ rings hollow at clinics

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — When Texas’ new abortion law made no exceptions in cases of rape, Republican Gov. Greg Abbott defended it with an assurance: Texas would get to work eliminating rapes. One year later, Lindsey LeBlanc is busy as ever helping rape victims in a college town outside Houston. “The numbers have stayed consistently […]
7 hours ago
A protester holds a poster showing the image of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, at a gathering a ...
Associated Press

Ceremony and controversy await Harris during visit to Asia

WASHINGTON (AP) — Attending funerals on behalf of the United States is normally a straightforward assignment for a vice president, but Kamala Harris will confront controversy at nearly every turn as she visits Asia for the memorial honoring former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe. American allies are seeking clarity after mixed messages over whether President […]
7 hours ago
Fred Guttenberg, whose daughter Jaime was killed in the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooti...
Associated Press

Democrats in Florida seek to win over Latinos on gun control

MIAMI (AP) — Annette Taddeo walked to a podium overlooking Miami’s Biscayne Bay and described to her audience how she had fled terrorism as a teenager in Colombia and now feared for the safety of her 16-year-old daughter at an American public school. A blue and bright orange bus behind the Democratic congressional candidate carried […]
7 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Ways to prevent clogged drains and what to do if you’re too late

While there are a variety of ways to prevent clogged drains, it's equally as important to know what to do when you're already too late.
(Courtesy Condor)...
Condor Airlines

Condor Airlines shows passion for destinations from Sky Harbor with new-look aircraft

Condor Airlines brings passion to each flight and connects people to their dream destinations throughout the world.
...
Day & Night Air Conditioning, Heating and Plumbing

Most plumbing problems can be fixed with regular maintenance

Instead of waiting for a problem to happen, experts suggest getting a head start on your plumbing maintenance.
Yellen calls for modernized IRS at Maryland field office