IRS Answers Often Wrong

There may never be a better argument for simplifying the federal tax code than the sorry record of IRS help line staffers who answer questions from confused taxpayers. Over several recent years, calling the IRS help line got you a wrong answer anywhere from 25% to 35% of the time.

70%Percentage of all federal taxes paid by those earning $103,000+ annually. (National Taxpayers Union)

There may never be a better argument for simplifying the federal tax code than the sorry record of IRS help line staffers who answer questions from confused taxpayers. Over several recent years, calling the IRS help line got you a wrong answer anywhere from 25% to 35% of the time.

Even worse, if you rely on inaccurate information and underpay your tax, you can’t use the IRS goof to get off the hook for the unpaid taxes, although you may avoid penalties if you can prove you relied on an IRS error. To do that you’ll need to keep accurate records of when you called and who you talked to.

If the IRS can’t be trusted to be accurate, you can always count on your tax professional, right? Not really. Since 1988, Money magazine has done an annual survey of 50 randomly selected tax pros, asking them to complete a 1040 for a hypothetical family. The results have varied by as a much as $1,000.

“Advice is what we ask for when we already know the answer but wish we didn't.” —Erica Jong