The partial government shutdown caused "real harm to real taxpayers" because of its effect on the Internal Revenue Service, the national taxpayer advocate reported Tuesday.
According to Nina Olson, the IRS's internal watchdog, wait times for the agency's accounts-management phone line went from 4 minutes last year to 17 minutes, and less than half of callers actually reached a human, compared to 86 percent from last year.
"Make no mistake about it, these numbers translate into real harm to real taxpayers," Olson wrote in her annual report.
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"It is unconscionable for the government to allow its employees to enforce collection of taxes without the concomitant taxpayer rights protections enacted by Congress," she added, in a call to legislators to prevent another shutdown.
"The IRS successfully reopened operations following the shutdown, and the agency is seeing a good start to the 2019 filing season," the IRS said in a statement to The Wall Street Journal.
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"We are continuing to assess the impact of the shutdown on our various operations across the agency and remain proud of the many IRS employees who have risen to the resulting challenges."