Tax Administration:

Profiles of Major Components of the Tax Gap

GGD-90-53BR: Published: Apr 4, 1990. Publicly Released: Apr 19, 1990.

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Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO assessed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) gross tax gap estimates for 1987.

GAO found that: (1) for 1987, IRS estimated the tax gap to be $84.9 billion; (2) sole proprietors underpaid 23 percent of their tax liability, which reflected both unreported income and overstated business reductions; (3) informal suppliers failed to report $7.7 billion in income; (4) small corporations failed to report income and overstated deductions of $5.2 billion; (5) large corporations improperly accounted for income or expenses of $15.8 billion; (6) IRS taxpayer noncompliance research had not been conclusive mostly because the reasons for noncompliance varied by component; (7) IRS used tax programs to try to improve taxpayer compliance, and IRS officials believed that the programs had been effective, but IRS had efforts underway to try to improve its enforcement programs; and (8) various agencies suggested ways for IRS to improve taxpayer compliance.

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