Information Returns:

Correcting Taxpayer Identification Is Possible Without Disclosing Tax Data

GGD-90-90: Published: Jun 5, 1990. Publicly Released: Jun 5, 1990.

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Pursuant to a legislative requirement, GAO determined what options exist, without a legislative change, to help financial institutions provide correct names and taxpayer identification numbers (TIN) to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

GAO found that: (1) while payors were not required to obtain correct names, there were many incorrect identification numbers listed due to name mismatches in IRS or social security files; (2) IRS should encourage payors to provide more information about payee name changes; (3) IRS could reduce the number of mismatches by expanding plans to correct names on income tax returns; and (4) IRS should tell payors when there is no current record of particular TIN in IRS or social security files.

Recommendations for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: IRS expanded the W-9 (Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification) to provide information about making name changes for the social security number. Payors must give the W-9 form to each person who opens a new account.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should encourage payors to obtain information from payees about name changes not reported to social security when they open new accounts and to include the names on information returns.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  2. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Action was completed January 1, 1992. IRS corrected the names of primary filers on income tax returns to include secondary filers.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should expand IRS plans to correct names of primary filers on income tax returns to include secondary filers.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

  3. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: In April 1991, IRS began notifying payors when TIN are not in Social Security Administration or IRS files when it issued the tax year 1989 list of incorrect numbers. IRS plans to continue sending out these notices in future years.

    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should tell payors when TIN are not in social security or IRS files when providing lists of incorrect TIN to payors.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service

 

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