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    Subject Term: "Voluntary compliance"

    24 publications with a total of 67 open recommendations including 1 priority recommendation
    Director: Jessica Lucas-Judy
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    5 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure that IRS leverages lessons learned from the NRP examinations and effectively completes operational employment tax examinations, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop and document plans to analyze the results in 2017 of the NRP employment tax study to identify the major issues of noncompliance.

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

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, IRS said in July 2017 that it will develop and document plans to comprehensively analyze the National Research Program study results and identify major issues of noncompliance. IRS also said it will complete data perfection activities and deliver the updated data to its data warehouse system. IRS plans to complete these tasks by January 2018.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that IRS leverages lessons learned from the NRP examinations and effectively completes operational employment tax examinations, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop and document plans for addressing the noncompliance identified in IRS's analysis of the NRP employment tax results.

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

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, IRS said in July 2017 that it plans to research how the National Research Program (NRP) study results can be used to enhance workload selection programs and will develop and initiate an action plans based on studying the NRP results. IRS plans to complete this work by January 2019.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that IRS leverages lessons learned from the NRP examinations and effectively completes operational employment tax examinations, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop and document plans for assessing the results of the NRP employment tax study to estimate the current state of the employment tax gap.

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

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, in July 2017 IRS said it will update its tax gap estimates, which will include updating the employment tax gap estimates. IRS plans to complete this effort by January 2020.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that IRS leverages lessons learned from the NRP examinations and effectively completes operational employment tax examinations, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should determine whether and when to provide the Information Return Analysis System upfront for Small Business/Self-Employed division operational examinations based on criteria such as whether it would help identify more noncompliance, reduce taxpayer burden, and improve audit efficiency by reducing overall IRS costs (examiner versus campus costs).

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

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, in July 2017 IRS said it will gather additional data and insights on the opportunities and challenges of incorporating Information Return Analysis System (IRAS) data into the classification process. IRS plans to complete these tasks by October 2018.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that IRS leverages lessons learned from the NRP examinations and effectively completes operational employment tax examinations, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should regularly remind employment tax examiners how they can access and request the CP2100 and cash transaction data for operational employment tax examinations.

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

    Comments: In response to this recommendation, in July 2017 IRS said it will provide reminders to examiners regarding the cash transaction data and the CP2100, hold training sessions, and include information on both tools on its internal website for examiners. IRS planned to complete these tasks by October 2018.
    Director: James R. McTigue Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    14 open recommendations
    Recommendation: As LB&I finishes implementing its new approach and decides which selection methods will be used with the campaigns, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should ensure that the documentation gaps in policies and procedures are addressed for six internal control principles for the selection methods that will be used, including defining objectives to identify risk and defining risk tolerances.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As LB&I finishes implementing its new approach and decides which selection methods will be used with the campaigns, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should ensure that the documentation gaps in policies and procedures are addressed for six internal control principles for the selection methods that will be used, including identifying, analyzing, and responding to risks to achieving the objectives.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As LB&I finishes implementing its new approach and decides which selection methods will be used with the campaigns, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should ensure that the documentation gaps in policies and procedures are addressed for six internal control principles for the selection methods that will be used, including designing control activities to achieve objectives and responding to risks.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As LB&I finishes implementing its new approach and decides which selection methods will be used with the campaigns, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should ensure that the documentation gaps in policies and procedures are addressed for six internal control principles for the selection methods that will be used, including using quality information to achieve objectives.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As LB&I finishes implementing its new approach and decides which selection methods will be used with the campaigns, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should ensure that the documentation gaps in policies and procedures are addressed for six internal control principles for the selection methods that will be used, including communicating internally the necessary quality information about the objectives.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As LB&I finishes implementing its new approach and decides which selection methods will be used with the campaigns, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should ensure that the documentation gaps in policies and procedures are addressed for six internal control principles for the selection methods that will be used, including evaluating issues and remediating identified internal control deficiencies on a timely basis.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: Also in accordance with federal internal control standards, the Commissioner should direct LB&I to adopt a standard process for monitoring audit selection decisions in the field, such as by modifying the existing quality control system.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that the new campaigns under LB&I's new approach for addressing tax compliance are implemented successfully, the Commissioner should create a timetable with specific dates for implementing its new compliance approach.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that the new campaigns under LB&I's new approach for addressing tax compliance are implemented successfully, the Commissioner should establish metrics to help determine whether the campaign effort overall meets LB&I's goals.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that the new campaigns under LB&I's new approach for addressing tax compliance are implemented successfully, the Commissioner should finalize and document plans to evaluate the human resources expended on campaign activities.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that the new campaigns under LB&I's new approach for addressing tax compliance are implemented successfully, the Commissioner should document lessons learned from stakeholder input and past performance.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that the new campaigns under LB&I's new approach for addressing tax compliance are implemented successfully, the Commissioner should monitor overall performance across future campaigns, not just individual compliance projects, and in doing so ensure that the data used for monitoring accounts for the costs beyond the auditor's time can clearly be linked with specific selection methods, including the Discriminant Analysis System method, to the extent that the selection methods continue to operate.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that the new campaigns under LB&I's new approach for addressing tax compliance are implemented successfully, the Commissioner should develop and document criteria to use in choosing selection methods for campaigns using audits.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: To further ensure that the new campaigns under LB&I's new approach for addressing tax compliance are implemented successfully, the Commissioner should set a timetable to analyze and mitigate risks and document specific metrics for assessing mitigation of identified risks.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: Rebecca Shea
    Phone: (202) 512-2834

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To maximize resources for the Inland Waterways Trust Fund, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should consult with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to explore options to obtain proprietary data to enhance IRS's efforts to ensure taxpayer compliance with the inland waterways fuel tax.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To enhance the budget process and to improve transparency, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue, to the extent feasible, should ensure that the CJ includes data by appropriation account on the amount of funding requested to maintain current services for each future state theme.

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

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Recommendation: As Treasury works with IRS to improve the quality and accuracy of budget data, the Secretary of the Treasury should ensure sufficient controls are in place to make certain that the information technology investment reports generated from the SharePoint Investment Knowledge Exchange are accurate. This includes, for example, taking steps to reduce the need for manual corrections to the data.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    4 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To strengthen efforts to identify and address noncompliance with the EITC, ACTC, and AOTC, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct Refundable Credits Policy and Program Management (RCPPM) to, building on current efforts, develop a comprehensive operational strategy that includes all the RTCs for which RCPPM is responsible. The strategy could include use of error rates and amounts, evaluation and guidance on the proper use of indicators like no-change and default rates, and guidance on how to weigh trade-offs between equity and return on investment in resource allocations.

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

    Comments: As of February 2017, IRS is taking steps toward developing a comprehensive compliance strategy that includes the three refundable tax credits GAO reviewed, as well as the PTC. These steps include initial planning meetings with Lean Six Sigma consultants and refundable credit policy and program managers and soliciting volunteers for the teams needed to develop the strategy. GAO will continue to monitor the progress of this effort.
    Recommendation: To strengthen efforts to identify and address noncompliance with the EITC, ACTC, and AOTC, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct Refundable Credits Policy and Program Management (RCPPM) to assess whether the data received from the Department of Education's Postsecondary Education Participants System (PEPS) database (a) are sufficiently complete and accurate to reliably correct tax returns at filing and (b) provide additional information that could be used to identify returns for examination; if warranted by this research, IRS should use this information to seek legislative authority to correct tax returns at filing based on PEPS data.

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

    Comments: In February 2016, Refundable Credits Policy and Program Management asked Wage & Investment Strategy & Solutions (WISS) to test the Department of Education's Postsecondary Education Participants System database (PEPS) to match and validate the EINS reported on Form 8863, Education Credits. According to IRS, preliminary assessment of the PEPS database indicates that it is not a sufficiently complete database to confirm AOTC eligibility during return processing or post processing. GAO reviewed the study results and submitted several follow-up questions to IRS in May 2017. GAO followed-up with IRS on the status of that information request in June 2017.
    Recommendation: To strengthen efforts to identify and address noncompliance with the EITC, ACTC, and AOTC, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct Refundable Credits Policy and Program Management (RCPPM) to take necessary steps to ensure the reliability of collections data and periodically review that data to (a) compute a collections rate for post-refund enforcement activities and (b) determine what additional analyses would provide useful information about compliance results and costs of post-refund audits and document-matching reviews.

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

    Comments: IRS raised concerns about the cost of studying collections data for post-refund enforcement activities. GAO recognizes that gathering collections data has costs. However, a significant amount of enforcement activity is occurring after refunds have been paid, and use of these data could better inform resource allocation decisions and improve the overall efficiency of enforcement efforts.
    Recommendation: To strengthen efforts to identify and address noncompliance with the EITC, ACTC, and AOTC, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct Refundable Credits Policy and Program Management (RCPPM) to, as RCPPM begins efforts to track the number of erroneous returns claiming the ACTC or AOTC identified through pre-refund enforcement activities, such as screening filters and use of math error authority, it should develop and implement a plan to collect and analyze these data that includes such characteristics as identifying timing goals, resource requirements, and the appropriate methodologies for analyzing and applying the data to compliance issues.

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

    Comments: As of February 2017, IRS is taking steps toward developing a comprehensive compliance strategy that includes the three refundable tax credits GAO reviewed, as well as the PTC. These steps include initial planning meetings with Lean Six Sigma consultants and refundable credit policy and program managers and soliciting volunteers for the teams needed to develop the strategy. GAO will continue to monitor the progress of this effort.
    Director: James R. McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    7 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To help ensure SB/SE's audit selection program meets its mission and selects returns fairly, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should clearly define and document the key term "fairness" for return selection activities.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to incorporate a definition of fairness into the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM), which serves as a single point of reference for guidance to IRS examiners. In February 2016, the Deputy Commissioner of Services and Enforcement (S&E) reiterated IRS's definition of fairness in the examination process to S&E employees. In January 2017, IRS issued interim guidance on fairness in examination case selection. IRS officials said that this guidance is considered "final" until the IRM is updated, no later than January 2019. In February 2017, IRS issued an article on its IRWeb and a message from the Deputy Commissioner S&E on defining fairness in the exam process. We are awaiting resolution of how this definition will be used in three other recommendations on communicating examples as well as developing both a related objective and measure.
    Recommendation: To help ensure SB/SE's audit selection program meets its mission and selects returns fairly, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should clearly communicate examples of fair selections to staff to better assure consistent understanding.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to communicate examples of fairness to managers and examiners involved in selecting tax returns for examination. In March 2017, the Director of IRS Small Business/Self Employed (SB/SE) Examination-Headquarters issued a memo to SB/SE examination directors that included examples illustrating the fairness definition in return selection. The examples were to be shared with directors, management, and examiners involved in return selection. To close this recommendation, we are waiting for resolution of how the fairness definition will be implemented through related recommendations on developing program objectives and measures assessing fairness in return selection.
    Recommendation: To help ensure SB/SE's audit selection program meets its mission and selects returns fairly, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop, document, and implement program-level objective(s) to evaluate whether the return selection process is meeting its mission of applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to review its current objectives for the SB/SE examination program and found that an additional program-level objective to evaluate fairness in the return selection was necessary. The new objective is "Ensure examinations are initiated based on indicators of noncomplicance. In addition, ensure a review of the decisions to survey a return (i.e., not initiate an examination) are based on upon factors outlined in the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) and approved by an appropriate level of management." In March 2017, IRS issued interim guidance communicating the new objective, which was sent to Examination Directors. The guidance and objective were also posted on the IRweb, which is available to all IRS employees. IRS officials said that the interim guidance is considered final until it can be incorporated into the IRM, which should be done within 2 years of when the interim guidance is issued. We are awaiting IRS's response to a related recommendation on developing a measure for this selection objective before deciding to close this recommendation.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that SB/SE's audit selection objective(s) on fairness are used and met, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop, document, and implement related performance measures that would allow SB/SE to determine how well the selection of returns for audit meets the new objective(s).

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to develop, document, and implement additional performance measures if new objectives related to fair return selection were implemented. In March 2017, IRS developed a new objective on fair return selection. In April 2017, IRS officials said that they were working on performance measures related to the new objective on fair return selection. They plan to meet with GAO in 1-2 months to obtain our feedback on the measures.
    Recommendation: To help ensure that SB/SE's audit selection objective(s) on fairness are used and met, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should incorporate the new objective(s) for fair return selection into the SB/SE risk management system to help identify and analyze potential risks to fair selections.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to consider any new objectives related to fair return selection within SB/SE's current risk management process framework. In March and April 2017, SB/SE developed a tool (RAFT) to include the fair selection objective (and related activities) into its risk register, which is monitored quarterly. IRS provided documentation from the Exam Risk Council meeting that they have discussed and assessed these risks. IRS is still working on documentation to show they are addressing our recommendations and the associated risks. IRS officials said the documentation is due in August 2017.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop and implement consistent documentation requirements to clarify the reasons for selecting a return for audit and who reviewed and approved the selection decision.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to evaluate the need to improve its documentation of return selection decisions and the review and approval process. In March 2017, various IRS functions completed templates showing the current status of return selection documentation requirements. As a result, they found that they could improve the consistency and clarity in documentation, approval and review requirements across workstreams by clearly defining procedures and ensuring they are formally documented in the IRM. The Director of Exam Case Selection issued a memo directing that documentation requirements be made consistent in the IRM. IRS officials said that revised documentation requirements are due in August 2017, with IRM incorporation at a later date.
    Recommendation: The Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop, document, and implement monitoring procedures to ensure that decisions made and coding used to select returns for audit are appropriate.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed to review its current procedures for monitoring return selection decisions and coding used to select returns. In April 2017, IRS officials provided documentation showing they had reviewed campus examination selection dollar thresholds and campus source code definitions. They found that improvements could be made in clarifying source code definitions and reviewing dollar thresholds used to categorize and select, respectively, returns for examination. IRS has issued an IRM procedural update to implement these changes. During our meeting with IRS, we clarified that our recommendation covered monitoring selection decisions more broadly, which IRS acknowledged. Officials said that additional documentation on monitoring selection decisions will be due by August 2017.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    5 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 clear objectives for the collection program and enterprise-wide case categorization and routing processes, and define key terms, such as "fairness" and "risk."

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with the recommendation. In March 2017, IRS provided a document intended define the objectives and "fairness," but it did not clearly define objectives for the collection program and enterprise-wide case categorization and routing processes, but instead identified division-level objectives and fiscal year 2017 collection strategies. The document also did not clearly define and communicate objectives--to include fairness--to staff in measurable terms that would be easily understood. Further, the objectives definitions were not were not clear and sufficient to support the design of internal control for related risks, the development of performance measures to determine whether objectives were achieved, and control assessments to assure case selections effectively support the collection program mission over time, including fairness. In August 2017, we shared this assessment with IRS and asked whether or when Collection plans to develop or provide additional documents.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the IRS collection program meets its mission and selects cases fairly, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should build upon existing Enterprise Risk Management (ERM) guidance to help managers identify internal and external risks to collection program objectives, and better understand how long-standing risk processes integrate with new ERM approaches; incorporate this guidance into existing or future ERM or collection program risk assessment processes.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with the recommendation and said it would continue to build upon existing risk management guidance by finalizing and making available training for managers, which would assist them in understanding their responsibilities for identifying internal and external risks to Collection program objectives. In November 2016, IRS provided documentation of risk management training for managers. However, since objectives for the collection program, enterprise-wide case categorization and routing processes, and fairness were not yet clearly defined, such guidance cannot be effectively incorporated into risk assessment processes to identify internal and external risks to collection program objectives. In August 2017, we shared this assessment with IRS and asked whether or when Collection plans to develop or provide additional documents.
    Recommendation: To help ensure the IRS collection program meets its mission and selects cases fairly, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should clearly establish, document, and implement case categorization and routing procedures--such as those for IDS, high priority case selection, and any other important processes--to support collection program objectives and IRS goals.

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

    Comments: IRS agreed with the recommendation and said it would review its case prioritization and selection processes and implement and communicate clear guidance and documentation to appropriate IRS staff. In November 2016, IRS provided documents on collection processes, but the information was either technical or covered Automated Collection System (ACS) or Field Collection processes rather than enterprise-wide processes to support collection program objectives and IRS goals. More specifically, the documents did not provide corrected guidance on the role of the Inventory Delivery System and modeling in shelving or routing cases to either ACS or the Field, or provide guidance on how management is to select priority area cases. In August 2017, we shared this assessment with IRS and asked whether or when Collection plans to develop or provide additional documents.
    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 procedures for the periodic evaluation of the efficiency and effectiveness of collection-wide case categorization, routing rules, and case selection processes.

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

    Comments: IRS said agreed that continually improving its performance is important and said that Collection would review and, if needed, update its internal management documents. In July 2017, IRS provided documents that identified and established responsibilities for periodic, regular review procedures to potentially update dollar thresholds used in routing collection inventory for potential selection, including IDS and its decision rules to route cases to one collections function instead of another (i.e., the Automated Collection System versus Field Collection. In August 2017, we asked IRS when it plans to conduct the first such evaluations and requested that it provide documentation of results of those implemented evaluations when available.
    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 procedures for periodic updates of dollar thresholds for categorizing case selection, including those identified as "high risk."

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

    Comments: IRS agreed that continually improving its performance is important and said that Collection would review and, if needed, update its internal management documents. In July 2017, IRS provided documents that identified and established responsibilities for periodic, regular review procedures to potentially update dollar thresholds used in systems that use a dollar threshold to prioritize Collection cases. In August 2017, we asked IRS when it plans to conduct the first such evaluations and requested that it provide documentation of results of those implemented evaluations when available.
    Director: Daniel Garcia-Diaz
    Phone: (202) 512-8678

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better align program goals with agency missions and improve program administration and oversight, Congress should consider designating the Department of Housing and Urban Development as a joint administrator of the program responsible for oversight. As part of the deliberation, Congress also should direct HUD to estimate the costs to monitor and perform the additional oversight responsibilities, including a discussion of funding options.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of July 2017, Congress had not enacted legislation to give HUD an oversight role for LIHTC.
    Recommendation: To improve the utility of the credit allocation information contained in IRS's database, IRS should address weaknesses identified in data entry and programming controls to ensure reliable data are collected.

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

    Comments: IRS acknowledged the need for improvements in its controls and procedures (including data entry and quality reviews). IRS officials agreed that these problems should be corrected and data quality reviews should be conducted on an ongoing basis. As of March 2017, in response to our recommendation, IRS officials said that they had explored possibilities to improve the database, which not only houses credit allocation information, but also data from noncompliance and building disposition forms. Specifically, IRS is working to move the database to a new and updated server, which will address weaknesses identified in data entry and programming controls. IRS expects to complete the data migration step by early fall of 2017. Until IRS implements its plan to improve the data, this recommendation will remain open.
    Director: Mctigue Jr, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure the EO unit's adherence to the TE/GE division's mission of "applying the tax law with integrity and fairness to all" in selecting exempt organizations to review or examine, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct EO to develop, document, and implement additional monitoring procedures in order to ensure case selection controls, including ensuring that procedures for obtaining required signatures and documenting explanations for selection decisions, are being followed.

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

    Comments: The Internal Revenue Service's Exempt Organizations (EO) unit issued a memo, in October 2015, to Area Managers requiring that they complete monthly sample reviews of closed and dismissed cases to ensure that proper managerial approvals are documented. EO also issued a memo, in April 2016, to examination staff and managers, emphasizing the importance of documenting justifications for examination dismissals. Additionally, operational reviews are conducted to ensure that the monitoring samples are being reviewed. In January 2017, EO's Exempt Organization Classification Area (EOCA) resumed quality reviews, which includes a review of documentation and EOCA database entries. As of May 2017, monitoring has not increased for EO referrals.
    Recommendation: In addition, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should determine what additional controls may be needed to ensure that all closed examination files are tracked and maintained accurately.

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

    Comments: In 2016, the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Unit (TE/GE) reviewed its internal processes and procedures and met with the Wage and investment (W&I) Files Unit to discuss procedures for requesting closed case files, according to Exempt Organizations Examinations (EOE) officials. TE/GE developed a desk guide for the Exempt Organizations Case Selection and Delivery Unit to document the procedures for requesting, tracking and monitoring closed case file requests. In addition, TE/GE provided recommendations to the W&I Files unit on modifications to the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) that would facilitate coordination; as of June 2017, W&I has not implemented these recommendations. The EOE unit will also continue to expand electronic case management efficiencies.
    Director: James R.McTigue, Jr.
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider expanding the mandate for 501(c)(3) organizations to electronically file their tax returns to cover a greater share of filed returns.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: The threshold over which Treasury/IRS can require electronic reporting is still 250 returns. As of February 18, 2016, there is no proposed legislation in the current Congress which would amend this threshold.
    Recommendation: To improve oversight of charitable organizations, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct EO to develop quantitative, results-oriented compliance goals and additional performance measures and indicators that can be used to assess impact of exams and other enforcement activities on compliance.

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

    Comments: IRS reported it has taken a series of actions to implement this recommendation. First, in FY 2016, IRS implemented a new data-driven case selection model to identify the most non-compliant returns based upon what is reported. Starting in FY 2017, IRS plans to measure the effectiveness of these new data-analytic models and use that performance information as the basis for ongoing discussions with EO Examinations managers on which queries are yielding results and which need to be modified or deleted from the work plan. IRS also developed a weighted disposal code measure, which is intended to help examiners prioritize case selection according to criteria that give more weight to more consequential outcomes. For example, a data mining query generating a lot of revocations would take priority over a query that may only generate written advisories. IRS incorporated the new measure into its current and future work plan monitoring and projections. IRS also began discussions with TE/GE Research and SOI to figure out how to define compliance for the EO population, establish a compliance baseline, and how to develop methods to measure the impact of enforcement actions on voluntary compliance levels in the EO population. Once all these actions are fully implemented, IRS will be in a better position to use this information to develop quantitative, results-oriented compliance goals and additional performance measures and indicators that can be used to assess impact of exams and other enforcement activities on compliance.
    Recommendation: To improve oversight of charitable organizations, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should continue to work with Treasury officials to do the following: review the flexibility afforded under the Pension Protection Act of 2006 consistent with statutory protections of taxpayer data, clarify what flexibility state regulators have in how they protect and use federal tax data, make modifications to guidance, policies, or regulations as warranted, and clearly communicate this information with state charity regulators.

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

    Comments: In 2016, IRS reported taking three actions to implement this recommendation. First, IRS coordinated a training session for State Charity Regulators on safeguards. The training included a review of the Safeguards Security Report (SSR) and covered several topics including current period safeguard activities, changes to safeguarding procedures, and disposal of information. According to IRS, there were 53 participants representing 45 different states. IRS also revised the 6104 (c)Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) inserting a new paragraph that instructs state charity regulators to contact the Tax Exempt/Government Entities (TEGE) Liaison if there are questions about whether an administrative or judicial proceeding has been initiated. This puts in place a mechanism to provide assurance to the regulator if they have concerns. Third, TEGE officials met with the Department of the Treasury and Office of Chief Counsel to discuss the Priority Guidance Plan for 2015-2016. According to IRS, this meeting included a discussion about flexibility afforded under the PPA and how state regulators can protect and use federal tax data consistent with statutory protections of taxpayer data. More recently, IRS informed us that they made additional changes to the MOU to address concerns raised by state charity officials about re-disclosures. IRS also reported on information-sharing efforts to publicize these changes among state charity regulators including a presentation at the annual National Association of State Charity Officials conference and a virtual presentation that reached over 100 participants representing 33 states. IRS informed state charity regulators that the MOU had been revised to address their concerns about re-disclosures in proceedings had been addressed in the MOU. The TEGE Liaison made a presentation at the Annual NASCO Conference in Washington DC on October 6, 2015 and included this information in the presentation.
    Director: James R. White
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Congress should consider providing the Secretary of the Treasury with the regulatory authority to lower the threshold for electronic filing of W-2s from 250 returns annually to between 5 to 10 returns, as appropriate.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, no legislative action identified. Lowering the threshold would help IRS prevent identity theft refund fraud by enhancing its ability to verify the employment information reported on tax returns before issuing refunds. Additionally, lowering the threshold would reduce the Social Security Administration's administrative costs of processing W-2 information.
    Recommendation: To provide timely, accurate, and actionable feedback to all relevant lead-generating third parties, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should provide aggregated information on (1) the success of external party leads in identifying suspicious returns and (2) emerging trends (pursuant to section 6103 restrictions).

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

    Comments: As of March 2017, IRS had taken steps to address GAO's August 2014 recommendation, including developing timeliness metrics for managing leads and holding six feedback sessions with financial institutions participating in the External Leads Program, but had not provided GAO with documentation that the agency is providing meaningful feedback to external parties. In November 2015, IRS reported that it had developed a database to track leads submitted by financial institutions and the results of those leads. IRS also stated that it had held six sessions with financial institutions to provide feedback on external leads provided to IRS. These quarterly feedback sessions contained various types of information, including overall statistics for the External Leads Program, individual statistics tailored to a specific external party, and solicitations for how to improve the program. In December 2015, IRS officials stated that the agency sent a customer satisfaction survey asking financial institutions for feedback on the external leads process and was considering other ways to provide feedback to financial institutions. In August 2016, an industry group representing financial institutions reported that IRS had not begun providing meaningful feedback to financial institutions that are providing leads to IRS. In March 2017, IRS officials told us they were holding more frequent, monthly, feedback sessions with financial institutions. GAO will follow up with financial institutions to understand the extent to which IRS's feedback has been timely and is actionable. Without accurate, timely, and actionable feedback, the more than 600 external parties participating in the External Leads Program do not know if the leads they provide to IRS are useful and they may not be able to assess their success in identifying IDT refund fraud or improve their detection tools.
    Recommendation: To provide timely, accurate, and actionable feedback to all relevant lead-generating third parties, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should develop a set of metrics to track external leads by the submitting third party.

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

    Comments: As of March 2017, IRS had taken steps to address GAO's August 2014 recommendation, including developing timeliness metrics for managing leads and holding six feedback sessions with financial institutions participating in the External Leads Program, but had not provided GAO with documentation that the agency is providing meaningful feedback to external parties. In November 2015, IRS reported that it had developed a database to track leads submitted by financial institutions and the results of those leads. IRS also stated that it had held six sessions with financial institutions to provide feedback on external leads provided to IRS. These quarterly feedback sessions contained various types of information, including overall statistics for the External Leads Program, individual statistics tailored to a specific external party, and solicitations for how to improve the program. In December 2015, IRS officials stated that the agency sent a customer satisfaction survey asking financial institutions for feedback on the external leads process and was considering other ways to provide feedback to financial institutions. In August 2016, an industry group representing financial institutions reported that IRS had not begun providing meaningful feedback to financial institutions that are providing leads to IRS. In March 2017, IRS officials told us they were holding more frequent, monthly, feedback sessions with financial institutions. GAO will follow up with financial institutions to understand the extent to which IRS's feedback has been timely and is actionable. Without accurate, timely, and actionable feedback, the more than 600 external parties participating in the External Leads Program do not know if the leads they provide to IRS are useful and they may not be able to assess their success in identifying IDT refund fraud or improve their detection tools.
    Director: Rebecca Gambler
    Phone: (202) 512-8777

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure DSOs' and students' compliance with OPT requirements, and strengthen efforts to identify and assess potential risks in OPT, the Director of ICE should direct SEVP to develop and distribute guidance to DSOs on how to determine whether a job is related to a student's area of study and require DSOs to provide information in SEVIS to show that they took steps, based on this guidance, to help ensure that the student's work is related to the area of study.

    Agency: Department of Homeland Security: United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2015, SEVP has made progress in developing employment guidance to support DSOs in determining whether a job is related to a student's area of study and requiring DSOs to provide such information in SEVIS. SEVP stated that it has drafted such guidance and it is being reviewed by SEVP subject matter experts. In addition, SEVP stated that it is developing information requirements for DSOs to attest that they adhered to the new employment guidance document in SEVIS, which requires system enhancements. In May 2016, the new STEM OPT regulation went into effect and, among other things, SEVP officials stated that it requires much greater detail on the scope of the employment and how it is related to the earned degree. As of October 2016, SEVP expects that non-STEM guidance on field of study will be finalized by the second quarter of fiscal year 2017.
    Director: Rusco, Franklin W
    Phone: (202) 512-3841

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps, including making changes to AFMSS, and in any new system that replaces AFMSS, to improve the ability of staff to identify wells that are a high priority for environmental inspection and to incorporate information on the inspection history of wells into the environmental inspection prioritization process.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: BLM concurred with the recommendation and has initiated action to update its Application for permit to drill (APD) permit processing system. This new system will be known as AFMSS II and, when fully implemented, may address GAO's recommendations. Currently, BLM's actions are insufficient to close this recommendation because they have not completed the updates to AFMISS. Specifically, BLM has not completed its update of AFMSS II to cover environmental inspections. We will continue to follow up with BLM as the agency continues to take action to improve its well tracking system. As of September 2017, BLM said it intends to update AFMSS II to cover environmental issues but has not yet done so.
    Recommendation: The Secretary of the Interior should direct the Director of the Bureau of Land Management to take steps to ensure that environmental violations or problems and enforcement actions are documented in a consistent manner.

    Agency: Department of the Interior
    Status: Open

    Comments: When we confirm what actions the agency has taken in response to this recommendation, we will provide updated information.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-9110

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To ensure that IRS is meeting the stated goals of CAP, the Principal Deputy Commissioner of Internal Revenue and Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement should track savings from Compliance Maintenance and CAP overall and develop a plan for reinvesting any savings.

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

    Comments: As of March 2017, IRS had taken some steps to implement this recommendation, but is not fully tracking the amount of dollar savings from using CAP nor developing a plan to reinvest any savings, as GAO recommended in August 2013. IRS is tracking savings by analyzing and comparing the workload inventory of account coordinators who handle CAP cases against team coordinators who handle non-CAP cases. This caseload comparison is a part of IRS's annual CAP evaluation and was included in its June 2014 CAP evaluation plan. Based on GAO's review of the evaluation plan and results, IRS's caseload comparison did not show the amount of dollar savings from CAP. The comparison for tax years 2010 through 2012 showed that account coordinators handling CAP cases exclusively or in conjunction with non-CAP cases have a larger caseload than team coordinators handling non-CAP cases. In addition, IRS has not developed a plan for reinvesting any savings, as GAO recommended in August 2013. Such a plan could help IRS increase audit coverage. IRS stated that it cannot measure the CAP's impact on audit coverage because audit coverage is based on staffing and compliance priorities. Also, IRS said that while quantifying monetary savings would be difficult, it has reinvested its savings by expanding account coordinators' caseloads as shown in the average caseload of CAP and non-CAP cases worked. However, without a plan for tracking savings and using them to increase audit coverage, IRS cannot be assured that the savings are effectively invested in either CAP or non-CAP taxpayers with a high compliance risk. IRS is evaluating the CAP program to determine how it fits with IRS's future vision for examinations. It has no timetable for completing this evaluation. IRS did not accept new CAP applications for 2016, deciding that CAP would be limited to taxpayers who are in the program for 2017.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-5594

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To increase the effectiveness of IRS's examinations individual tax returns, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should transcribe data from paper-filed Form 1040 Schedules C and E that are not currently transcribed and make that data available to SB/SE examiners for classification. If IRS has evidence that the costs related to transcribing all such data on Schedules C and E are prohibitive, IRS could do one or both of the following actions: (1) transcribe less data by transcribing only the missing data for selected line items, such as certain, large expense line items, or (2) develop a budget proposal to fund an initiative for transcribing Schedule C and E.

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

    Comments: As of March 2017, IRS had completed its study on whether to transcribe more data from paper-filed returns by comparing the benefits to classifying tax returns for audit from doing this transcription. They said the benefits to be derived from additional transcription are not significant and would not outweigh the added cost. However, IRS has not provided specific information about the costs and benefits from transcribing information from Schedules C and E that we mentioned in our recommendation. Having more data transcribed and electronically available from these areas likely will improve the classification of audits as well as the quality of the audits, according to examiners we spoke with for the report.
    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.
    Director: Mctigue, James R Jr
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To better ensure that economically similar outcomes are taxed similarly and minimize opportunities for abuse, the Secretary of the Treasury should undertake a study that compares the current approach to alternative approaches for the taxation of financial derivatives. To determine if changes would be beneficial, such a study should weigh the tradeoffs to IRS and taxpayers that each alternative presents, including simplicity, administrability, and economic efficiency.

    Agency: Department of the Treasury
    Status: Open

    Comments: Treasury disagreed with this recommendation based on the fact that many outside studies already exist and IRS did not comment. While Treasury disagreed with the recommendation, debate on tax reform, both in Congress and within IRS, continues and actions to ensure that economically similar outcomes are taxed similarly seem likely. GAO continues to maintain that further study is needed in coordination with IRS. If financial derivatives are included in tax reform, this could lead to savings for the federal government. GAO will continue to monitor progress on tax reform and whether it includes changes to the taxation of financial derivatives consistent with the recommendation.
    Director: Brostek, Michael
    Phone: (202)512-9039

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To improve compliance with shareholder basis rules, Congress may wish to require S corporations to calculate and report shareholder's stock and debt basis as completely as possible. S corporations would report the calculation on the Schedule K-1 and send it to shareholders as well as IRS. If Congress judges that stock purchase price information that is currently only available to shareholders should not be transmitted to the S corporation due to privacy concerns, an alternative is to require that S corporations report less complete basis calculations using information already available to the S corporation.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, Congress had not enacted legislation to require S corporations--a federal business type that provides certain tax benefits like passing income and losses to shareholders' individual returns-- to calculate and report shareholder's stock and debt basis as completely as possible and report the calculation to shareholders and IRS, as GAO suggested in December 2009.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-9110

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to better assess whether changes are needed in the way IRS administers activities not engaged in for profit provisions, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should take steps to estimate the extent of activities not engaged in for profit noncompliance from its ongoing research programs.

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

    Comments: IRS is researching sole proprietor noncompliance, as GAO recommended in September 2009. It is focusing on those who improperly claim business losses (i.e., not profits). IRS's Office of Research, Analysis and Statistics is using the reporting compliance study of Form 1040 filers to gather the data on such noncompliant business losses. This research covered sampled tax returns filed for tax years 2009, 2010, and 2011 and used audits of the sampled tax returns that are filed for each tax year. In November 2016, IRS research officials provided the initial rough estimates of the percentage of disallowed losses and associated dollar amounts for all 3 tax years but as of March 2017, they had not yet indicated how these estimates helped IRS to understand the nature of the tax noncompliance. The officials cautioned that their ability to develop the estimates depends on the number of observations that can be applied from each tax year. This research, when completed, could help IRS to identify noncompliant sole proprietor issues and take action to reduce losses.
    Director: Clark, Cheryl E
    Phone: (202)512-9521

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: The IRS should direct the appropriate IRS officials to establish procedures requiring that each physical security analyst conduct a periodic documented review of the Emergency Signal History Report and emergency contact list for its respective location to ensure that (1) appropriate corrective actions have been planned for all incidents reported by the central monitoring station and (2) the emergency contact list for each location is current and includes only appropriate contacts.

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

    Comments: IRS's efforts to address this recommendation are ongoing. In August 2016, IRS updated the IRM to require that (1) corrective actions are planned for all incidents reported by the central monitoring station and (2) the emergency contact list for each location is current and includes only appropriate contacts. IRS stated that in fiscal year 2017 it will update procedures and provide training to employees to help ensure that the updates to the guidance are communicated to affected employees. We will continue to evaluate IRS's corrective actions during our fiscal year 2017 audit.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    2 open recommendations
    Recommendation: In order to ensure the most efficient, fair, and consistent administration of civil tax penalties, and that penalties are achieving their purpose of encouraging voluntary compliance, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct the Office of Servicewide Penalties (OSP) to evaluate penalty administration and penalties' effect on voluntary compliance.

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

    Comments: The Office of Servicewide Penalties (OSP) initiated a plan to comprehensively evaluate penalty administration and the impact of penalties on voluntary compliance. They stated that they understand such a plan will be useful in identifying priorities and determining additional potential resource needs. However, OSP put this plan on hold while they developed a business case for obtaining more staff and resources. OSP is in the process of obtaining feedback to refine their business case for final submission. While they await approval of the business case they have not done any work on the comprehensive plan. As the comprehensive plan remains incomplete, OSP has not yet undertaken an evaluation of penalties' effect on voluntary compliance. In December 2011 OSP formed a Civil Penalties Administrative Improvement Initiative team that has the goal of making improvements to civil penalty administration. Activities underway as of February 2013 include developing measures to improve taxpayer consistency and taking actions to improve the Reasonable Cause Assistant computer system. We learned in February 2015 that the program is now under a new executive. When we met with the new agency officials in April 2015 they told us that they had a new effort underway to develop a comprehensive strategy that examines the impact of penalties on voluntary compliance while ensuring quality. IRS finalized a Penalty Performance Plan on March 6, 2017, which we are currently reviewing.
    Recommendation: In order to ensure the most efficient, fair, and consistent administration of civil tax penalties, and that penalties are achieving their purpose of encouraging voluntary compliance, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should direct OSP to develop and implement a plan to collect and analyze penalty-related data. The plan should address the constraints officials have identified as impeding progress in analyzing penalties.

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

    Comments: Office of Servicewide Penalties (OSP) initiated a plan to comprehensively evaluate penalty administration and the impact of penalties on voluntary compliance. However, OSP put this plan on hold while they developed a business case for obtaining more staff and resources. As of February 2013 the business case has not progressed and OSP has taken no additional action to complete the comprehensive plan. We learned in February 2015 that the program is now under a new executive. When we met with the new agency officials in April 2015 they told us that they had a new effort underway to develop a comprehensive strategy that examines the impact of penalties on voluntary compliance while ensuring quality. IRS finalized a Penalty Performance Plan on March 6, 2017, which we are currently reviewing.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-5594

    3 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To simplify the burden that the corporate exemption places on payers to distinguish payees' business status and also provide greater information reporting, Congress may wish to consider requiring payers to report payments to corporations on the form 1099 MISC, as we previously suggested and as proposed in the Bush Administration's budget.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: No legislative action has been identified to require payers engaged in a trade or business to report on payments to corporations for services, thereby reducing these payers' burden to determine which payments require reporting. On March 23, 2010, Congress enacted section 9006 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-148), which expanded information reporting to include payments made to corporations, consistent with GAO's January 2009 matter for congressional consideration. The provision also required payers to report payments for property and gross proceeds. The provision was to be effective for payments after December 31, 2011, requiring payers to report beginning in January 2013 on payments to corporations made in 2012 for property or services. However, Congress repealed the provision on April 14, 2011, by section 2 of the Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011 (Public Law 112-9).
    Recommendation: To gauge the extent of 1099-MISC payer noncompliance and its contribution to the tax gap, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should, as part of future research studies, develop an estimate of 1099-MISC payer noncompliance.

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

    Comments: According to IRS, developing such an estimate requires a multi-pronged approach and a large amount of coordinated effort. One prong is to determine the extent of filing compliance among employers. A second prong would determine the extent to which 1099-MISC payers properly report their payments. Starting with the Tax Year 2001 individual income tax reporting compliance study, the National Research Program (NRP) office has been collecting some data related to Form 1099-MISC compliance, from both the payer and payee perspectives. With the ongoing annual individual income tax reporting compliance studies, the IRS will gather more data on this issue. However, by themselves, these efforts will not provide a comprehensive picture of the scope of potential Form 1099-MISC non-compliance. Additional data will be generated by the NRP reporting compliance study for employment tax. As part of the NRP employment tax research, IRS examiners were to review taxpayers' Form 1099 filing compliance. Data collected from these studies should shed some light on whether employers are appropriately reporting required payments on Form 1099-MISC. As of July 2017, IRS had completed portions of its analysis of the NRP employment tax sample results and was working to resolve data issues. IRS estimates its analysis of the extent of Form 1099-MISC payer noncompliance will be complete by December 2017. We will continue to monitor IRS's progress.
    Recommendation: To gauge the extent of 1099-MISC payer noncompliance and its contribution to the tax gap, the Commissioner of Internal Revenue should, as part of future research studies, determine the nature and characteristics of those payers that do not comply with 1099-MISC reporting requirements so that this information can be factored into an IRS-wide strategy for increasing 1099-MISC payer compliance.

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

    Comments: IRS researchers are collecting data on 1099-MISC reporting as part of its National Research Program (NRP) study on employment taxes, a program that involves examinations of a sample of tax returns expected to culminate in 2015. The examinations include tax years 2008 through 2010. As part of the NRP employment tax research, IRS examiners were to review taxpayers' Form 1099 filing compliance. Collecting data on this issue will enable IRS to study the nature and characteristics of payers that do not comply with 1099-MISC reporting requirements. As of July 2017, IRS had completed portions of its analysis of the NRP employment tax sample results and was working to resolve data issues. IRS estimates its 1099-MISC payer reporting compliance analysis will be completed in December 2017.We will continue to monitor IRS's progress.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202) 512-5594

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: Given the potential for improving compliance now and in the future, Congress may wish to provide IRS with the authority to use math error checks to identify and correct returns with ineligible (1) IRA "catch-up" contributions, and (2) contributions to traditional IRAs from taxpayers over age 70-1/2.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of April 2017, the Congress has not provided IRS with the math error authority to ensure that taxpayers comply with certain catch-up and contributions requirements.
    Director: White, James R
    Phone: (202)512-3000

    1 open recommendations
    Recommendation: To provide clarity for which taxpayers with rental real estate activity must report expense payments on information returns and to provide greater information reporting, Congress may wish to consider amending the Internal Revenue Code to make all taxpayers with rental real estate activity subject to the same information reporting requirements as other taxpayers operating a trade or business.

    Agency: Congress
    Status: Open

    Comments: As of March 2017, no legislation had been identified to make owners of rental real estate subject to the same payment reporting requirements regardless of whether they engaged in a trade or business under current law. In the 112th Congress, Congress enacted the Small Business Jobs Act of 2010 (Public Law 111-240), which contained a provision that required, in general, persons receiving rental income from real estate to be considered engaged in a trade or business and therefore subject to the reporting requirements of section 6041 of the Internal Revenue Code, which was consistent with GAO's August 2008 matter for congressional consideration. However, Congress repealed the provision on April 14, 2011, by section 3 of the Comprehensive 1099 Taxpayer Protection and Repayment of Exchange Subsidy Overpayments Act of 2011 (Public Law 112-9).