Internal Revenue Service:

2013 Tax Filing Season Performance to Date and Budget Data

GAO-13-541R: Published: Apr 15, 2013. Publicly Released: Apr 25, 2013.

Additional Materials:


James R. White
(202) 512-9110


James McTigue, Jr
(202) 512-9110


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

What GAO Found

In summary, so far in the 2013 filing season, GAO found the following:

  • Despite a late start due to tax law changes, IRS and stakeholders reported relatively smooth operations. Although the number of tax returns received and refunds issued was lower in the beginning of the filing season than last year, by the end of March these gaps had closed considerably.
  • Overall, the percentage of callers who sought and received live assistance from a telephone assistor has been comparable to last year, but lower than 2010 and 2011. However, taxpayers waited less time to speak with an assistor, which IRS officials attributed to quicker call handling. Although IRS received more calls about identity theft than last year, access to speak with an IRS assistor who specializes in identity theft has been higher. Further, taxpayers currently are waiting over 7 minutes to speak with these assistors.

In addition, IRS budget data shows:

  • An increase of 9 percent ($1 billion) in discretionary funding and an increase of 8 percent (6,732 full-time equivalents) in staffing over fiscal year 2012 actual levels in the 2014 request. According to OMB calculations, IRS expects a $597 million reduction in discretionary funding in fiscal year 2013 as a result of sequestration.

Why GAO Did This Study

This correspondence is based on GAO's work to date in response to Congressional requests for an interim assessment of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) 2013 filing season performance and a summary of IRS budget data. GAO's briefing objectives were to (1) provide an assessment to date of IRS's 2013 performance in processing tax returns, delivering refunds, and providing telephone service; and (2) describe IRS dollar and staffing trends for fiscal years 2010 to 2014 and the reduction, by appropriation, to IRS resources due to sequestration.

For more information contact James R. White at (202) 512-9110 or or James R. McTigue, Jr. at (202) 512-9110 or

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