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Taking cuts in the IRS line

A new company says it will wait on hold with the IRS for you, for a small fee.

You can hire someone to stand in line for you for Black Friday, so you can get the smoking deals. But doing your taxes is a completely different—and much more solemn—kind of money event, and waiting on hold with the IRS to get your questions answered can be a long, miserable process.

A new company is offering to be a line lackey for you. EnQ says it will sit on hold until you are ready to talk.

“EnQ works its way to the front of the queue and sells those places to customers,” founder Andrew Valiente told Archer News. “A customer will skip the hold time and the aggravation of knowing which number to call and a complex menu system.”

How it works

The company says it is already on hold, currently with the IRS, and soon, with the Social Security Administration.

“We already called the IRS for you,” the website says. “For a small fee, you can take our place in line and speak directly with an IRS customer service representative.”

A widget on the site shows you what the current wait time is if you called the IRS yourself.

For example, the widget showed a wait time with the IRS of 55 minutes on Wednesday, February 17, at 11:25 am PT/2:25 pm ET. It showed an enQ wait time of 3 minutes, and a cost of $8.20 if you wanted to use their service. That works out to about 15 cents per minute you do not have to wait on hold.

About two hours later, the widget showed an IRS wait time of 64 minutes, and an enQ wait time of 3 minutes, for $5.20, or about 8 cents per minute you would have been on hold.

Valiente would describe that as minutes of your time—and money—saved.

“Imagine that your accountant is charging you $100 an hour and is calling the IRS on your behalf,” he said. “That hold time just cost you $75-plus.”

Is it legal?

Yes, according to Valiente.

“Uber and Airbnb didn’t ask permission, and neither did enQ. We created a perfectly legal solution to a problem of massive proportions and we’ll launch like any other startup,” he said in a blog post.

Valiente told Nextgov that he did not contact the IRS before launching his company.

“When you think about Uber, they did not go to the taxi authority first,” he said in the article. “But I did read the law. I read the law very carefully.”

Both Uber and Airbnb have faced extensive legal problems as they break new ground.

“Legal issues abound with Uber,” said attorney Paul Figg in Investor’s Business Daily News.

Archer News contacted the IRS about enQ. We called the media line and got though immediately. However, the IRS spokesperson who answered declined to comment on the new company.

Last year, only 40% of callers to the tax line actually got through to a live IRS representative, and those who did waited an average of 30 minutes, reported the Washington Post. Millions of people calling the IRS ended up with a “courtesy disconnect,” in other words, a hang-up.

The IRS is adding 1,000 more customers service representatives this year, according to the Washington Post.

Is it secure?

EnQ follows best practices for IT security, Valiente said, including not recording calls, and having third-party companies who specialize in safety keeping customer credit card information and login passwords safe.

“Parker Conrad of Zenefits just resigned because of his ‘ready, shoot, aim’ reckless management style,” Valiente said.

“EnQ is just the opposite. We have taken extreme care in security and customer privacy.”

Zenefits allowed unlicensed salespeople to sell insurance, BuzzFeed reported, and is under investigation by the Washington state insurance commissioner’s office. Conrad, the CEO, also created a program that made it appear that employees “were watching legally mandated online training when they weren’t,” reported Bloomberg.

Will it make your wait longer?

Valiente was one of the IRS’ unhappy phone customers last year.

“My tax filing last year was complex,” he said to Archer News. “I changed countries, changed jobs, my former company merged, and my former company sent the tax documents to my old address. This complexity led me to file and re-file three times and spent tens of hours on hold with the IRS.”

But, he said in Nextgov, he does not think his new company will add to your wait time, if you do not use his service.

“The percentage of the calls that we make relative to the mass amount that are inbound from everyone else is quite small,” Valiente said in the article. 

He told Archer News that average wait times could go down, if people watch the widget on the site and decide to call the IRS during less busy times.  

“Customers who do not wish to pay will shift their call volume to other parts of the day,” he said. “Customers who need to talk right now have the option of paying for that privilege.”

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