Goal 3 | People

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Foster an inclusive, diverse and well-equipped workforce and strengthen relationships with our external partners.

At the heart of our ability to provide taxpayers with quality service and fair enforcement lies a dedicated workforce and community of partners. We pride ourselves as leaders in workforce diversity and strive to continue our dedication towards making the IRS an equitable and inclusive environment for all employees to thrive and grow. The global COVID-19 pandemic shifted the nature of our work in unprecedented ways, highlighting the importance of prioritizing and strengthening our workforce culture. By supporting flexible work environments and career paths, the IRS aims to build a culture that values and empowers employees to maximize their potential. Cultivating a culture that exceeds employee expectations will help us retain talent and fill critical workforce gaps caused by retirements and new skill demands.

We are committed to developing our employees by providing resources, tools and training that will help meet the needs of today and tomorrow. We continue to build our workforce using data-driven planning methods to strategically understand future workforce needs. It is important for us to foster continued partnerships and build new ones with those who are essential collaborators in improving the taxpayer experience. Together, we’ll continue to expand our network for better information sharing and improved service delivery.

88% of respondents to 2021 IRS Employee survey agree that diversity and inclusion positively affect the IRS's ability to serve taxpayers

Trends and Challenges

Enabling an Equitable, Diverse and Flexible Workplace Culture


Employee expectations of work culture are changing. This has led to a focus on welcoming these conversations and assessing how our organization practices these values through service to our employees and taxpayers. Employees increasingly value flexibility (for example, remote work and personalized schedules) as the nature of work is shifting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Improving work-life balance and creating meaningful career path opportunities helps employees unlock their full potential. In order to attract and retain talent, we must deliver on values of equity, diversity, inclusion, accessibility and flexibility in a meaningful way that meets employee expectations and fully represents the diverse communities we serve.

Rising Retirement and Attrition

The IRS has an aging workforce. While we recognize the vast majority of employees remain beyond the earliest date they can retire, an estimated 52,000 of 83,000 are eligible to retire or resign within the next six years. The average attrition rate for federal agencies is 5.8%, whereas the IRS’s is higher at 7.3% (Partnership for Public Service). The IRS is implementing recruitment and succession planning strategies to mitigate these effects while working with congressional leadership to provide consistent funding and support for federal hiring initiatives. This will ensure the IRS has a pipeline of incoming and future talent ready to help achieve its mission-critical goals year after year. Without this, the organization will lose vital institutional knowledge and face a workforce ill-equipped and understaffed to carry out its mission.

A graphic depicting a line of people standing next to each other and shaded to represent that 63% of the workforce is eligible to retire in the next 6 years.

Objectives & Strategies

Recruit, Hire & Retain a Diverse Workforce

Objective 3.1: Recruit, hire and retain a workforce that reflects the communities we serve to meet current and future needs.

Our ability to serve taxpayers depends on our people and experienced leadership. We must hire diverse and representative talent and retain expertise through diligent workforce and succession planning. Our approach will help offset the future effects of potentially high retirement rates in an aging workforce and high attrition due to a competitive private sector market. In addition, we’ll ensure we recruit and hire from a variety of backgrounds and support the needs of our employees.

Strategy 3.1.1: Expand strategic hiring efforts and utilize workforce planning to manage current and future workforce needs.

Strategy 3.1.2: Establish a comprehensive brand strategy and increase recruitment of well-qualified individuals, including those from underserved and diverse communities.

Strategy 3.1.3: Streamline operations for hiring and onboarding administration.

Strategy 3.1.4: Enhance retention through increased focus and analysis on mission-critical positions, and improve succession planning to maintain institutional expertise and reduce workload disruptions. 

Empower Workforce Development

Objective 3.2: Empower our workforce with the proper training, tools and processes to improve the employee experience and better serve taxpayers.

Developing an exemplary workforce requires investing in the right tools, technology and training while providing a flexible, supportive and equitable culture. We must ensure that we enable our employees to thrive and develop their career paths. Our work environment must adapt with thoughtful human capital solutions and workforce strategies as work requirements continue to evolve. We will make sure employees have knowledge of and access to cutting-edge technology and data analytics tools. To help foster valuable training experiences, the new IRS University serves as a centralized, collaborative learning center for employee growth, knowledge management, skill development and cultural learning.

Strategy 3.2.1: Foster an equitable, inclusive and accessible workplace culture that respects and embraces all facets of diversity.

Strategy 3.2.2: Provide our employees with training that closes competency gaps in mission-critical areas and yields better service to taxpayers in all communities.

Strategy 3.2.3: Support our workforce with the flexibility, tools and information needed to safely conduct their work and protect their well-being as the future of work evolves.

Strategy 3.2.4: Provide employees with structured, yet flexible career paths to help them succeed in their current role and plan for their future.

Strengthen & Utilize Partnerships

Objective 3.3: Strengthen, expand and effectively utilize our network of trusted partners to better serve taxpayers and improve compliance.

The IRS recognizes the opportunity and responsibility it has within the larger tax community. Trusted partners help us facilitate our tax administration efforts and proactively address emerging trends and challenges. This includes reaching and supporting underserved communities through relationships that are critical during the filing season and throughout the year. By engaging with over 10,000 external partners, such as other government agencies, international tax administrations, tax preparers, technology providers and industry groups, we can improve data-sharing and communication to better fulfill our mission.

Strategy 3.3.1: Improve secure data and information-sharing between local, national and international stakeholders to collaborate on solving common problems.

Strategy 3.3.2: Proactively solicit input from the practitioner community to improve our services.

Strategy 3.3.3: Support and enable our partners, including nonprofit organizations and federal, state and local agencies, to help serve taxpayers and reach underserved communities.

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Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Strategy

The Equity, Diversity, Inclusion and Accessibility Strategy aspires to create a culture of caring where everyone is accountable for advancing inclusion, treated with respect and fairness, feels safe to share authentic perspectives and has an opportunity to reach their full potential.

Priority Areas

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Valuing, respecting and developing employees to reach their greatest potential at work and in life.

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An inclusive workplace that focuses on well-being, allowing  employees to feel a sense of safety, belonging and authenticity.

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Providing strategic direction, demonstrating commitment and reinforcing accountability.

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Making a positive social impact by fostering internal and external partnerships and creating initiatives that support the communities in which we live and serve.

Training Strategy

The Taxpayer First Act Comprehensive Training Strategy, led by the Human Capital Office, will improve existing training by establishing an innovative learning function that leverages technology and industry standards to enhance training experiences, promote a continuous learning environment and invest in employee development throughout their career.

Security Summit & Tax Related Identity Theft Report Reduction

The first-ever Security Summit was convened in March 2015 and involved a coalition of state tax agencies and private sector tax industry members. Since its creation, the number of taxpayers reporting tax-related identity theft has fallen by 81%.

A chart with an arrow sloping down from left to right with the text 81% decline.


Goal 3: Measuring Success

Progress and success of our People Goal will be supported by measures, including but not limited to:

  • Employee Engagement Index: Measures key attributes of diversity and inclusion from the Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey (FEVS).
  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) - Number of Returns Prepared: Measures the number of individual federal income tax returns prepared by VITA/TCE volunteers.