(Memphis) The head of the Internal Revenue Service made a stop in Memphis Thursday as tax filing season gets started.
The IRS will begin processing individual returns January 31st.
IRS Commissioner John Koskinen has been on the job a little over a month, and Memphis is the third city he’s visited.
Memphis is home to one of the country’s largest service centers.
In fact, of the 100 million returns e-filed last year, 80 million of them went through the computer system in Memphis.
Koskinen is making these trips across the country, mainly to speak with employees first hand, as the IRS works to rebuild morale and public trust after the Tea Party targeting scandal last year.
While in Memphis Koskinen met with managers and held a town hall meeting for employees.
Koskinen says he wants employees to feel comfortable communicating about problems. “If there’s something that goes on that I don’t know about, that’s my fault.”
He added, “I think that in light of the information last year, we need to have taxpayers become comfortable and confident that no matter who they are, whatever their political affiliations, beliefs or organizational affiliations, they’re going to be treated fairly.”
After meeting with employees, Koskinen talked with the media about the start of tax season, providing more online options and improving customer service.
Besides rebuilding public trust, and restoring funding after budget constraints, one of Koskinen’s other goals is fighting tax fraud.
Memphis has certainly had its share of identity theft and preparer fraud over the years.
WREG asked him what the agency is doing to better protect taxpayers and provide a more efficient response to victims.
Koskinen says the IRS is continuing to add filters to catch fraud, as well as working to shorten the time it takes for victims to get recourse.
“It could take a victim of identity fraud up to as long as 300 days to get that resolved. We’ve worked to consolidate the effort. We have now 3,000 additional employees who’ve been assigned to work on identity theft and refund fraud, now we have that down to 120 days and we’re working to make that shorter.”
Koskinen was headed to Atlanta after leaving Memphis.