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At the walk-in center in East Harlem, N.Y., Belquis Castillo, 40, left in exasperation Monday afternoon after waiting more than an hour. Castillo needed copies of her 2010 tax return so her son can enroll in online college courses, but was told the computers were down.
The long waits are the result of the IRS' expanded workload and diminished workforce, says IRS Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson, whose 2011 annual report identified inadequate resources as the most serious problem facing taxpayers. In 1995, the IRS had a staff of 114,018 to process 205 million tax returns. In 2010, it had 90,907 people to process nearly 236 million tax returns. For this tax filing season, the IRS has 5,000 fewer employees than it did a year ago.
"This is the lowest staffing level I've ever seen, and I've been with the IRS 26 years," says David Carrone, president of the Louisiana chapter of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU).
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