Lines continue to grow at understaffed Tampa IRS

- Some Bay Area taxpayers were still spending most of the daylight hours waiting in line at Tampa's Internal Revenue Service office, a day after FOX 13 exposed the issue and the IRS promised to add more workers.

People at the IRS' Columbus Drive location say they waited up to seven hours to speak to a worker about their taxes, many forced to verify their identities in person after a hack last year that compromised Social Security numbers and led to criminals filing taxes in the names of others to claim their refunds.

Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL) urged IRS Commissioner John Koskinen to do something to alleviate the hours-long wait times.

Nelson cited FOX 13's reports in a letter to Koskinen, saying "I trust you will review [the reports] and respond appropriately to ensure taxpayers are receiving the assistance they need."

Late Wednesday, the IRS said it would shift workers from other locations to help reduce crowds at the Tampa tax center, but the help did not arrive Thursday. The agency blames the long waits on a reduced budget over the last few years, fewer workers because of the budget and the cyber hack.

In a statement, the IRS tells FOX 13, "the IRS is looking to accelerate the implementation date of the appointment process for Tampa to address long lines/wait times. We expect to offer appointments in the next few weeks. The IRS will issue a news release, when ready, to tell taxpayers to call to schedule an appointment."

It continues, "plans are underway to deploy additional staff. We continue to encourage the use of other service channels, such as IRS.gov, whenever possible. Additionally, the St. Petersburg Taxpayer Assistance Center will begin seeing taxpayers on an appointment basis starting March 7. Taxpayers can call 1-844-545-5640 to schedule appointments."

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