There’s a long wait and then there’s a complete lack of service. That’s what many taxpayers said Monday morning at the Internal Revenue Service office in Maitland.
We were there just before 11 a.m. as people were turned away and told to camp out starting at midnight if they wanted to see an IRS employee Tuesday.
This is not the first time this has happened and it’s not something the IRS denies.
For tax refund identity victims like Natasha Zephyr, being turned away was insult to injury.
“I came, there was a line around the corner. The lady you just saw there, she told everyone they need to leave because they have to camp out between midnight and 6 a.m. in order to get a visitors pass to get in the building and get help,” said Zephyr.
She’s not alone in her frustration, or sense of urgency. One after another, taxpayers at the IRS office in Maitland told a similar story and office hours had barely begun.
Jay Johnson took a day off work and can’t “camp out” because he has to take his kids to school in the morning.
“I just come here to verify my identity and walked in and they said people have been here since midnight,” said Johnson.
Only one person we spoke with was able to speak with an IRS employee and he came in at 5 a.m. Monday.
The wait and the hassle isn’t just in person. We called one of the IRS lines and after a minute and 17 seconds we heard: “We’re sorry but due to extremely high call volume in the topic you requested, we are unable to handle your call at this time. Please try again later or on our next business day.”
Gertha Meme has heard that before.
“Then when you call, you cannot get no answer on the phone and try to come here, same thing. I came here twice already,” said Meme.
The IRS admits its offices are crowded and its phone lines are so “jammed,” you have a 50/50 chance of getting through. Michael Dobzinski, the Florida spokesperson for the IRS, said it comes down to budget cuts and a reduction of the agency’s workforce.
The IRS cites a more than $1 billion reduction in its budget in the last five years and a 15,000-person reduction in its workforce nationwide.
The IRS has 18 “Taxpayer Assistance Centers” in Florida. The three in Central Florida are in Maitland, Melbourne and Daytona Beach. To find an office near you, head to the IRS website.