Houston IRS office closes early because of fighting

The Internal Revenue Service in Houston closed abruptly on Saturday after people say a fight broke out. It happened while taxpayers were trying to get assistance with filing their taxes.

Hundreds of people were lined up at the IRS building hoping to get help with their taxes. Instead, a field assistant from the IRS said they had to shut down early because of a riot that broke out.

"I ain’t doing no playing. This is the second month I came out here, and I’m not going to play with the IRS," said one angry taxpayer. 

Tempers flared outside the Internal Revenue Service’s building as hundreds of people trying to file their taxes and get identity verification were turned away.

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"They opened the gates like around 9 or 10 a.m. and I think a couple of people started fighting, so after that, they told everybody to go home," said Katrel Johnson, a visitor at the tax center.

Adding to the chaos, a wave of people tried to enter the building at the same time.

"All of the sudden everybody went in when they opened the door, and bum rushed and started skipping," said Tonya Johnson, a visitor at the IRS center. 

Katrel Johnson said he drove two hours from College Station to Houston for tax assistance from the IRS, only to be turned away.

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"They shouldn’t be doing people like this because I seen little kids out here. I seen old people with canes," said Johnson. 

In a statement, the IRS said in part- "delays on Saturday occurred due to overwhelming taxpayer demand for assistance, and the IRS is committed to serving those who weren’t able to receive help in person."

"Unfortunately, they did everything as a walk-in, no appointments and that’s really what caused all these problems," said Henry Castro, another visitor at the IRS center.

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The IRS responded to the incident in the following statement: 

"The IRS has surged resources to expand in-person service, opening or reopening more than 50 new walk-in centers over the past two years and ensuring they are fulling staffed. The IRS has added more than 11,000 additional hours of availability this Filing Season, making this the most hours of in-person service the agency has provided in our history.

Delays on Saturday occurred due to overwhelming taxpayer demand for assistance, and the IRS is committed to serving those who weren’t able to receive in person help. For people we couldn’t serve in person, we are collecting names and numbers when possible so an IRS representative can call them back. To further assist taxpayers in the Houston area, we will be taking special steps to help on Monday and throughout the week. We will be working to fully staff our offices next week and adding more people to help on our phone lines.

We also remind taxpayers there are many ways to get help from the IRS. We encourage taxpayers needing assistance to schedule an appointment by calling (844) 545-5640. Many issues can be resolved over the phone to help people avoid a trip to an IRS office. Taxpayers can also get an automatic extension to file until Oct. 15 by visiting the IRS website.