IRS Closing 43 Offices Across the Nation

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Yesterday the IRS announced that it would be initiating a massive “office space and rent reduction initiative” that will save taxpayers $17.2 million in rental costs during 2012 and even more the following year.  Employees aren’t being laid off — this isn’t a reduction in staff — it’s all about packing them in tighter by eliminating some offices and consolidating others.

The IRS is quick to point out that this initiative will not result in a decrease in customer service because none of the actual walk-in taxpayer assistance centers are going to be closed.  The IRS anticipates “minimal taxpayer impact.”  Ok, everyone recognizes that “minimal” does not mean “none.”  These press releases are carefully worded, and I think The Commish chose to hedge a little here because of course there is going to be at least some impact on taxpayers and their access to tax relief.

The truth is a vast majority of taxpayers contact the IRS by phone, not via the walk-in offices.  And what happens when you pack employees in like sardines?  Best case scenario is they get a little grumpy.  Interestingly, this office space reduction announcement came just one day after the IRS publicized a slackening of the rules related to the Offer in Compromise program (which will likely result in a moderate to severe increase in OIC filings).  I can’t imagine either of these changes were too popular among IRS personnel (“What!  More work AND less space?!”).  I support the office space consolidation initiative 100%, I’m just skeptical about The Commish and his “minimal taxpayer impact” line.