PITTSFIELD -- Beginning on Tuesday, people seeking face-to-face assistance from the Internal Revenue Service will have to travel to Albany, N.Y.
The IRS on Thursday announced that it will close its office in the Silvio O. Conte Federal Building at 78 Center St. in Pittsfield. The office also included a federal Taxpayer Assistance Center.
"The IRS made a strategic business decision to close the Pittsfield IRS office as a cost savings measure," said Peggy Riley, IRS spokeswoman for Massachusetts.
The federal building itself, which includes classrooms leased by Berkshire Community College, the office for the 4-H Youth Development Program, and offices for various state agencies, will remain open.
An announcement of the decision released by the IRS on Thursday morning, said that area taxpayers seeking assistance in person on federal tax matters can visit the next closest IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center -- located at 1 Clinton Ave., Albany, -- approximately 45 miles from the Pittsfield.
"I worry about some of the older folks that might have to access help from the IRS as they do in City Hall," said city Mayor Daniel Bianchi. "They like to come in and talk to someone for assistance."
"There have been no employees that are there full-time," Riley said, noting that the Pittsfield IRS office has been staffed by someone who travels there from a main branch.
Riley said the decision to close the Pittsfield office stems from a national effort to make use of IRS space more efficient by dropping expensive leases on small offices. She said it was becoming increasingly more expensive to lease space in the Conte building.
"More and more, people are going to our website for the information they need. IRS.gov has just about any piece of information someone might be looking for," Riley said.
She said the IRS encourages people to check IRS.gov for days and hours of service as well as services offered at any physical IRS location they plan to visit.
Bianchi said City Hall often referred people seeking tax services there to the Pittsfield IRS office. He said that the staff there had a reputation for "generally being very helpful" to members of the public who cannot afford to see a private tax consultant or CPA.
He went on to say that closing the centrally located IRS office "is not just about cutting cost, it's about cutting service. A trip to Albany can be a burden for some people."
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