The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the tax service of the United States federal government, which is responsible for collecting taxes and administering the Internal Revenue Code, the main body of federal tax law.
It is part of the Treasury Department and is headed by the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, appointed for a five-year term by the President of the United States.
The functions of the IRS include providing tax assistance to taxpayers; pursuing and resolving cases of incorrect or fraudulent tax returns; and oversight of various benefit programs, including the Affordable Care Act.
The IRS originated from the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, a federal office established in 1862 to assess the nation’s first income tax to fund the American Civil War. The temporary measure included more than a fifth of Union war expenditure before it could expire a decade later.
In 1913, the Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which authorized Congress to impose an income tax, was ratified and the Bureau of Internal Revenue was created.
In 1953 the agency was renamed the Internal Revenue Service and over the following decades, it underwent many reforms and reorganizations, most notably in the 1990s.
Since its inception, the IRS has been responsible for collecting the most revenue needed to fund the federal government, although it faced periodic controversy and opposition over its methods, constitutionality, and principle of taxation generally.
In recent years, the agency has struggled with budget cuts and declining morale. In 2018, it saw a 15% reduction in its workforce, including a drop of more than 25% in its law enforcement personnel. However, in the fiscal year 2017, the agency processed more than 245 million tax returns.
History of The IRS Name
As early as 1918, the Bureau of Internal Revenue began using the name “Internal Revenue Service” on at least one tax form. In 1953, the name change to “Internal Revenue Service” was formalized in Treasury Decision 6038.
Volunteers can take online courses, take tests, and practice using tax preparation software. Link and Learn Taxes (searchable by keyword on the IRS website), is the free e-learning portion of the VITA/TCE program for training volunteers.
Shortage of Workers for IRS
The Internal Revenue Service is adding about 1,200 employees to its rolls to help the agency navigate what will likely be one of the most challenging tax filing seasons in years, according to a person familiar with the plans.
The new temporary employees, who have previous IRS experience, include new customer service representatives and tax examiners. They will be brought in over the coming weeks and stay on through the fall, according to the person, who was granted anonymity to discuss the preparations.
The influx of additional help comes as the IRS began this filing season with a backlog of close to 10 million unprocessed returns from previous years, compared to fewer than 1 million in normal years.
Taxpayers have complained that they are still waiting for resolutions of disputes over refunds from the 2020 tax season. The IRS has suffered several budget cuts over the past 10 years and has some of the lowest staffing levels in decades.
During the 2021 tax season, less than 15,000 people handled more than 240 million calls made by taxpayers to the agency, or about one person handled every 16,000 calls received, according to the IRS.
The new hires could help alleviate what the IRS has warned could be a frustrating time for taxpayers. Agency officials said Americans could experience delays in receiving refunds this year, particularly if there are errors in their forms.
The agency encourages people to check their tax returns carefully before filing, as well as to file them electronically and request direct deposit to have the best chance of receiving refunds within the typical wait time of 21 days.