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    Subject Term: "Individual taxpayers"

    4 publications with a total of 7 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure the IRS collection program meets its mission and selects cases fairly, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should establish, document, and implement objectives for the collection program and ACS, and define the key term of "fairness" as it applies to collection activities, which can be communicated to IRS staff.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: In January 2017, IRS supplied documentation on how it had established a fairness policy statement, which is incorporated into the Internal Revenue Manual, communicated to staff in email, and provided via a powerpoint presentation to staff. IRS also established and documented collection program objectives as part of its FY2017 Collection Program Letter. In October 2017, IRS shared additional draft documentation with GAO that would align SB/SE objectives with objectives from its FY2017 Collection Program Letter as well as other information such as performance measures. GAO continues to monitor IRS activity to create a process where key areas of focus may change from year to year, but the alignment to goals, objectives, and fairness remains consistent.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider expanding the mandate for partnerships and corporations to electronically file their tax returns to cover a greater share of filed returns.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No legislation enacted as of March 2017. Current law requires entities that file more than 250 returns during a year or partnerships with more than 100 partners to file electronically. A bill has been introduced in Congress, S. 3178, which would gradually lower the threshold to 20 returns. Requiring greater digitization of tax return information, as GAO suggested in May 2014, would help the Internal Revenue Service identify which partnership and S corporation tax returns would be most productive to examine. Improving IRS's selection of partnership and S corporation returns to examine would also benefit compliant taxpayers whose returns may otherwise be selected for examination. Further, expanded e-filing would reduce IRS's tax return processing costs.
    Recommendation: While IRS works to improve the quality of its Schedule K-1 data, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop a plan for conducting testing or other analysis to determine whether the improved Schedule K-1 data, perhaps combined with other IRS information about businesses and taxpayers, could be used more effectively to ensure compliance with the reporting of flow-through income.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: IRS stated that it understands the objective of this recommendation and, at such time that resources are available to enhance capabilities, it would consider the proposed methodology of advanced testing. However, based on current and anticipated budget constraints, it does not expect its plans to change in the near future.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Acting Commissioner of Internal Revenue should take the following action outline a strategy that defines appropriate levels of telephone and correspondence service and wait time and lists specific steps to manage service based on an assessment of time frames, demand, capabilities, and resources.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: IRS has made progress in developing a customer service strategy with defined appropriate levels of service and steps needed to provide such service, as we recommended; however, as of March 2017, IRS has not completed its efforts. In December 2015, concerned that the Department of the Treasury and IRS did not believe they needed to develop a comprehensive customer service strategy, we suggested that Congress consider requiring Treasury to develop such a strategy in consultation with IRS that would, among other things, determine appropriate telephone and correspondence levels of service. This includes establishing a customer service standard and identifying the resources required to achieve that standard. Taking these steps would increase transparency and help IRS communicate its resource needs, while helping Congress make more informed decisions about IRS's budget. In February 2016, IRS announced a "Future State" vision for agency-wide operations, which aims to improve services across different taxpayer interactions such as individual online account assistance, exams, and collections. In December 2016, IRS reported that it had undertaken a study on benchmarking its telephone performance against the best in the business, which we are currently reviewing. It also reported that many of our taxpayer service-related recommendations will ultimately be incorporated into IRS's Future State initiative. In November 2016, IRS provided documentation on the goals of the initiatives, which included goals on improving taxpayer service. However, this documentation does not include specific numerical targets that IRS expects to achieve for those goals. We will continue to assess this initiative as IRS works to develop it. However, it is unclear the extent to which and when our recommendations will be fulfilled by IRS's initiative. We maintain that Treasury should develop a comprehensive strategy in consultation with IRS which would enable IRS to make a more informed request to Congress about resource requirements needed to deliver specific levels of service. Finalizing a long-term comprehensive strategy will help ensure IRS is maximizing the benefit to taxpayers and possibly reduce costs in other areas, such as for IRS's telephone operations.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-7968

    3 open recommendations
    including 1 priority recommendation
    Recommendation: To better ensure that IRS's limited enforcement resources are allocated in a manner that maximizes the revenue yield of the income tax, subject to other important objectives of tax administration, such as minimizing compliance costs and ensuring equitable treatment across different groups of taxpayers, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should review disparities in the ratios of direct revenue yield to costs across different enforcement programs and across different groups of cases within programs and determine whether this evidence provides a basis for adjusting IRS's allocation of enforcement resources each year. As part of this review, IRS should develop estimates of the marginal direct revenue and marginal direct cost within each enforcement program and each taxpayer group.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open
    Priority recommendation

    Comments: IRS agrees in principle to using ratios of direct revenue yield-to-cost to adjust its enforcement resource allocation, as GAO recommended in December 2012; however, IRS officials plan to wait until it has developed such ratios at the marginal level (e.g., for the last cases worked within specific categories of exams) before they make such adjustments. GAO maintains that IRS has a basis to adjust its allocation of enforcement resources each year and could improve resource allocation immediately (while it is still working to develop the marginal ratios) by using average yield-to-cost ratios for each category. IRS has developed a methodology for estimating marginal ratios for limited subsets of cases within their correspondence examination program. IRS officials are working to apply this methodology to other cases within that program; however, they expect this effort will be complex and time consuming and officials did not have a timeline for full implementation as of March 2017. If IRS does not take into account some measure of revenue yield per dollar of cost when making allocation decisions, it will miss an opportunity to collect significant amounts of additional revenue.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that IRS's limited enforcement resources are allocated in a manner that maximizes the revenue yield of the income tax, subject to other important objectives of tax administration, such as minimizing compliance costs and ensuring equitable treatment across different groups of taxpayers, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should review disparities in the ratios of direct revenue yield to costs across different enforcement programs and across different groups of cases within programs and determine whether this evidence provides a basis for adjusting IRS's allocation of enforcement resources each year. As part of this review, IRS should compile data on the amount of time that specific grades of examiners and downstream employees spend on specific categories of exams that can be identified in ERIS.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: IRS has developed a methodology to estimate for each closed correspondence audit the total cost to IRS to identify, assess, and collect whatever direct revenue is collected from that audit. These estimated take into account the actual time applied in Examination and Appeals, as well as the job series and grades of the Exam and Appeals employees who handled each return. Collections cost do not vary significantly across the population of correspondence audits, so an average cost factor is used for that portion of the costs. IRS anticipates that expanding this estimation effort to other enforcement programs, such as field examination will require a much larger effort. As of December 2015, officials did not yet have a timeline for full implementation. If IRS does not take into account some measure of revenue yield per dollar of cost when making allocation decisions, it will miss an opportunity to collect significant amounts of additional revenue.
    Recommendation: To better ensure that IRS's limited enforcement resources are allocated in a manner that maximizes the revenue yield of the income tax, subject to other important objectives of tax administration, such as minimizing compliance costs and ensuring equitable treatment across different groups of taxpayers, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should review disparities in the ratios of direct revenue yield to costs across different enforcement programs and across different groups of cases within programs and determine whether this evidence provides a basis for adjusting IRS's allocation of enforcement resources each year.As part of this review, IRS should explore the potential of estimating the marginal influence of enforcement activity on voluntary compliance, potentially taking advantage of new NRP data.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service
    Status: Open

    Comments: IRS has not yet found a way to use NRP data or other data sources to estimate the indirect effects of audits. While they continue to explore alternative ways to estimate these effects, they expect to continue to account for these effects subjectively as they develop their enforcement resource allocation plans. As of December 2015, officials did not yet have a timeline for full implementation. If IRS does not take into account some measure of revenue yield per dollar of cost when making allocation decisions, it will miss an opportunity to collect significant amounts of additional revenue.