Barely a third of the 45 million taxpayers seeking help with their federal taxes on the Internal Revenue Service's customer helplines got it and they had to wait for nearly half an hour during the first three months of 2015, according to a government watchdog.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration said three-fourths of callers to the IRS helplines received assistance in 2014 and they only to wait on average about 12 minutes. Tax counselors answered two-thirds of the calls with average hold-times of about 15 minutes in 2012 and 2013.

The federal tax agency's performance thus far this year has been worse than expected as officials there predicted prior to the 2015 tax season that their staffs would only be able to connect with about 40 percent of callers due to budget cuts.

The diminished performance has occurred despite added self-assist programs touted by the IRS like a mobile app and YouTube videos. Around 2.2 million users downloaded the app and the videos had nearly 600,000 new views this year, the inspector general said.

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