The Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday it would begin a limited test at 10 of its Taxpayer Assistance Centers to determine whether an appointment-based service approach at its walk-in centers might help reduce taxpayer wait times during a time of severe budget cuts at the agency.

The IRS wants to see if using an appointment approach would benefit taxpayers by helping them avoid long waits in line that they otherwise might have experienced. The IRS is testing this process during the tax filing season to ensure this is a more efficient approach for taxpayers.

“During a challenging filing season with a very limited budget, we need to find ways to increase our efficiency and still provide the best service possible to taxpayers,” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen in a statement. “My hope is that this test increases the level of customer service that we can provide while minimizing needless burden on taxpayers.”

The IRS believes that appointments could help taxpayers by allowing them to know in advance that they can get the service they need. The process typically in place at most IRS offices cannot guarantee when or if a taxpayer can receive assistance, the IRS noted, as it is on a first come-first served basis. This situation can force taxpayers to wait in long lines, sometimes with waits lasting over an hour.

The initial test locations available by appointment are: Atlanta, Ga. (Atlanta-Woodcock), Austin, Texas, Birmingham, Ala., Chicago, Ill. (Dearborn), Denver, Colo., Fresno, Calif., Hartford, Conn., Plantation, Fla., San Antonio, Texas, and Seattle, Wash. The appointment-based test begins Feb. 23.
Overall, the IRS has more than 350 walk-in locations across the nation.

At these 10 locations, taxpayer service will continue to be offered without an appointment for those picking up limited forms or making a payment, but the IRS is encouraging taxpayers to use IRS.gov to get forms and Direct Pay to make the payment online whenever possible. All other services will require an appointment. Additional test sites may be added in the near future.

Taxpayers should also check IRS.gov for days and hours of service as well as services offered at the location they plan to visit, the IRS cautioned. For information on how to make an appointment, visit the contact my local office page on IRS.gov.

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