It’s the holiday season and gift-giving is in full swing. So, today we’re taking a look back at how our work for Congress keeps giving—and saving. Did you know we saved the government over $75 billion in FY18? That’s a return of about $124 for every dollar invested in us! Read on for more of our work that keeps on giving long after the holidays are over. Making a High Risk List, checking it twice Since the early 90s, coinciding with the start of each new Congress, we’ve released our biennial list of programs and operations that are “high risk” due to their vulnerabilities to fraud, waste, abuse, and mismanagement, or are most in need of transformation. Our most recent High Risk update was in February 2017. There are now 35 High Risk areas, ranging from Enforcement of Tax Laws to Improving Federal Oversight of Food Safety, to most recently, Management of Federal Programs That Serve Tribes and Their Members and the Government-Wide Personnel Security Clearance Process. With the federal government’s $4.1 trillion in outlays funding a broad array of programs and operations in FY18, solutions to high-risk problems potentially save billions of dollars, improve service to the public, and strengthen government performance and accountability. Over the past decade, progress to address our High Risk list has accounted for over $288 billion in such savings. Our 2019 High Risk list will be released this coming February. ‘Tis the Tax Filing Season For more than 30 years, we have reported annually on how well IRS provided service to taxpayers and processed their tax returns during the filing season. Along the way, we have made dozens of recommendations leading to savings of hundreds of millions in taxpayer dollars and improved taxpayer service.
- Saving Taxpayer Dollars: Tax credits offer benefits to many taxpayers, but figuring out if you are eligible to claim those credits can be difficult. Sometimes taxpayers make mistakes. Based on our filing season work, Congress has passed legislation to help IRS better catch such errors and save taxpayer dollars. For example, in 2015, the Congress passed legislation that should enable IRS to verify taxpayers’ claims for higher education tax benefits by using information from educational institutions—which has saved $290 million already and should yield an additional $504 million in financial benefits through fiscal year 2021.
- Taxpayer Service: Filing taxes each year can be daunting, so helping taxpayers through the process is important. Our recommendations have helped improve service to taxpayers. For example, in 2011, in response to our recommendation to help taxpayers easily locate free tax assistance, IRS launched an online search tool to help taxpayers find a local volunteer near them.
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