Need IRS help from an actual human being? Good luck!

As the 2014 tax filing season begins, Forbes magazine is reporting that last year only 60.6 percent of taxpayers who telephoned the IRS for help ever managed to make contact with a human being – and then only after an average of 17.6 minutes on hold.

“We don’t expect that our customer service is going to be able to improve very much,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told Forbes. “We would love to get as high as 70 percent of calls answered during this filing season.”

Of those who actually persevered and got to ask their questions to an IRS representative last year, Forbes offers no information about the level of accuracy of the responses.

This year, at walk-in IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers – where long lines can rival those preceding the release of a new iPhone – the IRS has decided it will no longer answer “complex” tax questions, only “basic” ones. And the IRS will no longer prepare tax returns for low-income and elderly taxpayers, referring them instead to VITA (Voluntary Income Tax Assistance) volunteers.

We thought that we had the answers; it was the questions we had wrong.” – Bono