Tax Policy:

Evaluation of IRS' Refund Offset Study

GGD-88-117: Published: Sep 1, 1988. Publicly Released: Sep 1, 1988.

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In response to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) study on refund offsets for delinquent child-support payments to determine whether its methodology supported its conclusions.

GAO found that the IRS methodology did not: (1) consider whether differences existed between the offset and nonoffset control groups prior to the offsets; (2) consider whether a nonfiling problem existed before the offsets occurred; (3) fully support the study's taxpayer compliance problems in subsequent years among those offset; (4) strictly compare the offset and control groups in non-tax-related respects; or (5) consider whether the taxpayer compliance problems it found were temporary or permanent. GAO also found that, although IRS is authorized to collect other delinquent debts owed to the government, the results of the study would not apply to debts other than delinquent child-support payments.

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