Tax Administration:

IRS Is Improving Its Controls for Ensuring That Taxpayers Are Treated Properly

GGD-96-176: Published: Aug 30, 1996. Publicly Released: Sep 17, 1996.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO examined the: (1) adequacy of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) controls to protect against abuse of taxpayers; (2) extent of information available concerning abuse allegations received and investigated by IRS, the Department of the Treasury Office of the Inspector General (OIG), and the Department of Justice (DOJ); and (3) OIG role in investigating abuse allegations.

GAO found that: (1) the adequacy of IRS controls against taxpayer abuse is uncertain because IRS does not have the capability to capture management information on taxpayer abuse; (2) IRS is establishing a tracking system to handle taxpayer complaints and reviewing its management information systems to determine the best way to capture relevant information for the complaint system; (3) the tracking system will enable IRS to better identify instances of taxpayer abuse and ensure that actions are taken to prevent their recurrence; (4) IRS is improving controls over its employees' access to computerized taxpayer accounts, establishing an expedited appeals process for some collection actions, and classifying recurring taxpayer problems by major issues; (5) it is not possible to determine the extent to which allegations of taxpayer abuse are received and investigated, since IRS, OIG, and DOJ information systems do not include specific data elements on taxpayer abuse; (6) OIG has increased the number of investigations involving senior IRS employees' alleged misconduct, fraud, and abuse; (7) OIG refers most of these allegations to IRS for investigation and administrative action; and (8) IRS is taking a considerable amount of time to respond to OIG investigations and referrals regarding senior IRS officials' disciplinary actions.

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