“The Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) fiscal year 2015 appropriation ($10.9 billion) and staffing levels (81,279 full-time equivalents, or FTE) continue a decline that has occurred over several years and are now below fiscal year 2009 levels. Since fiscal year 2010, IRS’s annual appropriation has declined by $1.2 billion, and staffing has fallen by about 11,000 FTEs since fiscal year 2009 while the agency’s workload has increased for reasons such as a surge in identity theft related refund fraud and the implementation of key provisions of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). In response to budget cuts, IRS has taken steps to reduce staffing costs including extending a hiring freeze and limiting seasonal employment. According to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, IRS may also furlough employees for 2 days later in fiscal year 2015. IRS is concerned about filing season performance, and anticipates it may face some challenges processing returns that claim the Premium Tax Credit—an advanceable, refundable tax credit designed to help eligible individuals and families with low or moderate income afford health insurance purchased through the Health Insurance Marketplace. As a result, IRS expects that some refunds may be delayed. IRS also projects significant declines in telephone level of service—only 38 percent of taxpayers who seek help from a live assistor will receive it and wait times will average almost one hour. IRS cites resource constraints and increased call volume as primary factors contributing to the decline in telephone performance.” GAO “Observations on IRS's Operations, Planning, and Resources “, GAO-15-420R: Published: Feb 27, 2015. Publicly Released: Mar 3, 2015.