Reports & Testimonies

  • GAO’s recommendations database contains report recommendations that still need to be addressed.

    GAO’s recommendations help congressional and agency leaders prepare for appropriations and oversight activities, as well as help improve government operations. Recommendations remain open until they are designated as Closed-implemented or Closed-not implemented. You can explore open recommendations by searching or browsing.

    GAO's priority recommendations are those that we believe warrant priority attention. We sent letters to the heads of key departments and agencies, urging them to continue focusing on these issues. These recommendations are labeled as such. You can find priority recommendations by searching or browsing our open recommendations below, or through our mobile app.

  • Browse Open Recommendations

    Explore priority recommendations by subject terms or browse by federal agency

    Search Open Recommendations

    Search for a specific priority recommendation by word or phrase



  • Governing on the go?

    Our Priorities for Policy Makers app makes it easier for leaders to search our recommendations on the go.

    See the November 10th Press Release


  • Have a Question about a Recommendation?

    • For questions about a specific recommendation, contact the person or office listed with the recommendation.
    • For general information about recommendations, contact GAO's Audit Policy and Quality Assurance office at (202) 512-6100 or apqa@gao.gov.
  • « Back to Results List Sort by   

    Results:

    Subject Term: "Tax filing"

    3 publications with a total of 5 open recommendations
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve taxpayer service amid declining budgets and increased responsibilities, Congress should consider requiring the Secretary of the Treasury to develop a comprehensive customer service strategy in consultation with the Commissioner of Internal Revenue that (1) determines appropriate telephone and correspondence levels of service, based on service provided by the best in business and customer expectations; and (2) thoroughly assesses which services IRS can shift to self-service options.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, no legislative action had been taken.
    Recommendation: To improve performance management of taxpayer services, the Secretary of the Treasury should update the Department's performance plan to include overage rates for handling taxpayer correspondence as a part of Treasury's performance goals.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: In May 2017, Treasury officials told us that they plan to include correspondence data as part of Treasury's fiscal year 2018 annual performance plan and fiscal year 2016 annual performance report. They expect it to be available online before Summer 2017.
    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: White, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop a new refund timeliness measure and goal to more appropriately reflect current capabilities.

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

    Comments: As of March 2017, IRS had not developed a new measure for refund timeliness. In August 2016, IRS reiterated that it has no plans to develop a new refund timeliness performance measure or goal, nor does it plan to revise its existing measure or goal to issue refunds due for tax returns filed on paper within 40 days. During the 2016 tax filing season, taxpayers filed nearly 90 percent of returns electronically, and, as a means to set taxpayer expectations, IRS publicly reports that about 90 percent of taxpayers owed a refund received it in less than 21 days. Accordingly, we continue to believe that IRS's sole performance measure of issuing paper-filed refunds within 40 days is outdated and does not acknowledge advances in technology that allow IRS to issue refunds faster. We agree with IRS that the environment has changed considerably since we made this recommendation--the growth in identity theft refund fraud has increased the need for additional scrutiny of tax refunds, which can add to the time needed to process tax returns. IRS can take into account its concerns and set a performance measure and goal that would be both challenging and obtainable. Without a measure and goal to assess refund timeliness that includes both paper and electronically filed returns and is reflective of IRS's current capabilities, IRS is missing opportunities to provide optimum levels of taxpayer service while also ensuring that taxpayers receive accurate refunds. As such, we believe that our recommendation remains valid.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should complete an Internet strategy that (1) provides a justification for the implementation of online self-service tools and includes an assessment of providing online self-service tools that allow taxpayers to access and update elements of their account online; (2) acknowledges the cost and benefits to taxpayers of new online services; (3) sets the time frame for when the online service would be created and available for taxpayer use; and (4) includes a plan to update the strategy periodically.

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

    Comments: IRS has made progress in improving its online services strategy, as we recommended; however, as of March 2017 IRS has not yet completed its efforts. In February 2016, IRS announced its new "Future State" vision for agency-wide operations, which aims to improve services across different taxpayer interactions such as individual account assistance, exams, and collections. IRS requested funding in the fiscal year 2017 budget justification to enhance web applications, including the online account component of its Future State Initiative. In December 2016, IRS took a step forward with this by announcing that it had launched a new online tool that would allow taxpayers to view their IRS account balance, including the amount they owe for tax, penalties, and interest. However, the documentation IRS provided on the Future State Initiative did not fully address our recommendation. For example, it is missing the costs and benefits to taxpayers of the online services, and time frames for when the online services would be created and available for taxpayers. We will continue to assess the new initiative as IRS continues its development. A long-term comprehensive strategy for its online services will help ensure IRS is maximizing the benefit to taxpayers from this investment and reduce costs in other areas, such as for IRS's telephone operations.