The Internal Revenue Service has been providing face-to-face assistance to fewer people at its Taxpayer Assistance Centers around the country, according to a new government report.

The report, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, found that in fiscal year 2014, the Taxpayer Assistance Centers had approximately 5.5 million taxpayer contacts, down 16 percent from the prior year.

The report reflects the IRS’s efforts to deal with a series of budget cuts and move more taxpayers to interact with the agency and get their questions answered by using its Web site and online applications. The report noted that the IRS’s fiscal year 2015 service approach continued from the prior year to identify and implement other opportunities for promoting online services so IRS staff would be available for taxpayers who required face-to-face assistance.

The purpose of the report was to examine how well the Taxpayer Assistance Centers were operating. TIGTA found that the 34 Taxpayer Assistance Centers its inspectors visited were generally clean, well-organized, uncluttered, and professional. At two locations, TIGTA observed people in long lines waiting for assistance; however, the lines did not prevent entry and egress to the buildings, and what TIGTA observed was orderly. Fewer forms were available than in previous years, but the IRS provided alternatives to obtain forms.

At seven of the locations, some of the employees were not wearing the required name tags, TIGTA found, and only 10 locations had the current versions of all the required signs displayed. The Taxpayer Assistance Centers generally completed the necessary follow-up procedures to ensure the delivery of all payments and taxpayer correspondence that were shipped to other IRS facilities. In most cases, according to the report, IRS employees adequately secured IRS stamps and the other material required for document authentication.

TIGTA made no recommendations in the report, and IRS officials had no response to a draft of the report they reviewed.

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