Saturday, May 09, 2020

Hern, Oklahoma congressmembers write letter asking Mnuchin to reopen IRS call centers

Hern leads letter asking Mnuchin to reopen IRS call centers

TULSA, OK (May 7th) – Representative Kevin Hern (OK-01) sent a letter to Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin urging him to reopen IRS call centers to provide assistance to Americans having difficulties accessing their stimulus funds, tax returns, and many other issues.

IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers help millions of Americans every year with their telephone hotlines. These hotlines have been unmanned due to COVID-19, leaving taxpayers and Congressional offices alike in the dark.

“With so much confusion and misinformation circulating about the stimulus payments and 2019 tax filings, the expertise from taxpayer advocates at the IRS has never been more necessary,” said Rep. Hern. “I feel the same frustration as my constituents. When people come to my office for help with the IRS, we utilize the Taxpayer Assistance Center hotline to resolve their issues. If no one answers the phone at the IRS, there’s nowhere to turn for help. I hope this letter encourages Secretary Mnuchin to expedite the reopening of Taxpayer Assistance Centers or develop ways for taxpayer advocates to monitor the hotline from home. The people need answers, and I don’t know how much longer they can wait.”

Background Information:

Joining Rep. Hern on the letter are:

Rep. Frank Lucas (OK-03)
Rep. Tom Cole (OK-04)
Rep. Markwayne Mullin (OK-02)
Rep. Kendra Horn (OK-05)

The full text of the letter can be found here and below.
May 6, 2020

The Honorable Steven Mnuchin Secretary
U.S. Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C., 20220

Dear Secretary Mnuchin,

We appreciate your leadership and efforts in providing relief for millions of people and businesses across the country impacted by COVID-19 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. However, due to the unique role that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) plays in serving Oklahomans throughout this hectic and confusing time, we urge you to grant further support by increased access to IRS taxpayer assistance.

As you may know, the IRS assists millions of taxpayers in meeting their Federal tax return filing and payment obligations in a variety of ways, such as through its telephone helpline, at IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers, and through volunteer-provided income tax assistance. For example, in 2018, more than 57 million Americans, which included millions of Oklahomans, utilized the call lines and Taxpayer Assistance Centers. The IRS was able to help these individuals with every tax issue imaginable, from services such as tracking refunds, to corrections regarding identity theft issues. These invaluable services have always been a backstop to ensure Oklahomans, who make up nearly 4.5 million total Internal Revenue refunds annually, receive the help they need from the IRS.

While the ability to help supply these services has been a great tool for all Americans, during this crisis, all Taxpayer Assistance Centers have been closed and most IRS phone lines have been shut down, including the national toll-free TAS intake line. This has not impacted the IRS’s ability to deliver on new services, such as the Economic Impact Payments, but this has significantly impacted the IRS’s ability to process paper tax returns and to interact with Oklahomans to give them much-needed help and guidance.

To enable hard-working Oklahomans to receive this assistance, and to help them navigate the economic downturn caused by the coronavirus crisis, we are urging you to take critical actions to re-open these essential services, and we request that you provide Congress with a timeline and a budget to execute these changes. We understand the need to protect the public and employees, in compliance with orders of health authorities throughout the country, but we must utilize innovative methods to offer this necessary assistance to the millions of Oklahomans seeking answers during this extremely confusing time.

Thank you again for your leadership on this very important issue, and for your prompt consideration of this request.


[Signed by Oklahoma congressional delegation]


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