IRS gets high mark for tax-time website

With free software and a site designed to make it easy for taxpayers to get forms and information, IRS.gov scores high in customer satisfaction.

So this is the new IRS. The agency that for years acted like it was taxpayers' problem to deal with the agency's bureaucracy now runs a website getting high marks for customer satisfaction. In the University of Michigan's quarterly customer satisfaction index, IRS.gov scored 73 out of 100, five points better than last quarter and substantially ahead of sites for the cellphone industry (69), cable and satellite TV (61) and airlines (66), the Washington Post's Stephen Barr reports.

Larry Freed, president of ForeSee Results, which sponsors the e-gov index ratings told Barr: "The IRS has made changes to its Web site that seem to be moving things in the right direction. They have really focused on what the citizens have to say."

The IRS redesigned its Web site in November after sifting through customer satisfaction data. The new ratings show that the Web site is easier to navigate, Freed said, and offers users two popular services -- a "most requested forms" link and a "I need to" guide that helps taxpayers find information on basic issues.

But satisfaction may have more to do with free taxfiling software available on the site than easy access to downloadable forms.

[T]he data appear to suggest that Americans may be happier filing their tax returns electronically. The IRS, when measured by the responses of "all individual taxpayers" who interact with the agency off line, scored 64 on the satisfaction index -- 14 percent lower than the Web site's score.