Operator, can you hear me?
Speaking of the State Tax Department, a caller last week was pretty irate because she found it impossible to get through to tax offices in Charleston or Martinsburg via telephone. She said she began calling the State Tax Department before income taxes were due and has called with other questions since, but has never talked to a real, live person. When we mentioned this to other people, we found that they, too, have had the same experience.
With the aid of the Morgan County Assessor's Office, we managed to talk to a Tax Department spokeswoman who agreed that their lines are always busy. Seems there are about 18 people answering their lines in Charleston and each usually deals with 100 calls a day. At tax deadlines and at busy times, such as when the business license renewal letters went out
a few weeks ago, the volume of calls gets even heavier.
Asked why they don't have more people manning phones, we were told it's not simply a budget problem but that they don't have the office space to add more, and that people train for up to a year to have the knowledge to field calls about taxes.
One person suggested that callers dial and redial rapidly to slip in, rather than just trying again in an hour. But we were also told that you can be on hold for 20 minutes or more even after your call gets through, so there's no easy advice.
This seems like a matter that State Senators Walt Helmick and Clark Barnes, Delegates Daryl Cowles and Craig Blair, and other legislators might want to investigate for the sake of their constituents.