Tax Administration:

Continuing Problems Affect Otherwise Successful 1994 Filing Season

GGD-95-5: Published: Oct 7, 1994. Publicly Released: Oct 7, 1994.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO reviewed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) performance during the 1994 tax filing season, focusing on: (1) IRS individual income tax returns and refunds processing; and (2) taxpayer accessibility to IRS information.

GAO found that: (1) during the 1994 filing season, the number of filed tax returns increased and taxpayers increased their use of alternative filing methods; (2) tax refunds were accurately and timely issued at one IRS service center; (3) IRS reduced the amount of rework and downtime by improving the accuracy of its returns processing and computer operations; (4) IRS fulfilled most taxpayer requests for tax forms and publications and provided accurate toll-free telephone assistance to taxpayers with tax law questions; (5) during the 1994 filing season, IRS identified twice as many fraudulent claims as in 1993; (6) it is unclear whether the growth in tax fraud was due to increased fraudulent activity or improved IRS monitoring and detection; (7) taxpayers' ability to reach IRS by telephone continued to decline during the 1994 filing season; (8) at the peak of the 1994 filing period, IRS answered only about 20 percent of its toll-free telephone assistance calls, 50 percent of the calls to its forms distribution centers, and 13 percent of the calls to its Telefile system; (9) the Earned Income Credit (EIC) provision continued to cause problems for IRS and taxpayers; (10) EIC was the source of many tax preparation errors and almost all of the refund fraud cases identified by IRS; and (11) EIC fraud could increase significantly as more taxpayers become eligible to claim EIC.

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