IRS' Accounts Receivable Inventory

T-GGD-90-60: Published: Aug 1, 1990. Publicly Released: Aug 1, 1990.

Additional Materials:


Jennie S. Stathis
(202) 275-6407


Office of Public Affairs
(202) 512-4800

GAO discussed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) growing accounts receivable inventory. GAO noted that: (1) the reported amount of money owed the federal government in assessed but unpaid taxes grew from $24 billion in 1983 to $66 billion in 1989; (2) IRS failure to collect billions of dollars in delinquent taxes could result in significant tax revenue losses and could have a serious negative impact on voluntary taxpayer compliance; (3) the accounts receivable inventory is growing faster than IRS ability to collect it; (4) as the IRS accounts receivable inventory gets older, IRS will need to use its most costly collection techniques; and (5) IRS cited such economic factors as increasing numbers of returns filed, tax receipts, and inflation as reasons for the growth in the accounts receivable inventory. GAO believes that IRS needs to: (1) better focus its efforts on collecting more from existing accounts; (2) reduce its backlog by collecting what is owed as quickly and equitably as possible; (3) improve its financial and management information system so that it can report more accurately on the inventory; (4) ensure that its tax system modernization reduces the amount of incorrect information that gets into the system; and (5) take a service-wide approach that focuses on the prevention of delinquencies.

Matter for Congressional Consideration

  1. Status: Closed - Implemented

    Comments: Action was taken to publish a hearing record.

    Matter: To assist IRS, the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs may wish to ask IRS to lay out its collection goals for the next several years. Within the context of protecting taxpayers' rights, the goals should include well-defined time frames, financial targets, and an aggressive approach to reducing the inventory.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed - Not Implemented

    Comments: The recommendation in the testimony was too general for specific actions and followup. IRS is moving in that direction.

    Recommendation: In the short term, IRS should better focus its efforts to collect more from existing accounts.

    Agency Affected: Department of the Treasury: Internal Revenue Service


Explore the full database of GAO's Open Recommendations »

Nov 18, 2020

Nov 9, 2020

Oct 19, 2020

Sep 23, 2020

Aug 31, 2020

Jun 29, 2020

Jun 16, 2020

May 1, 2020

Apr 30, 2020

  • tax icon, source: Eyewire

    Priority Open Recommendations:

    Internal Revenue Service
    GAO-20-548PR: Published: Apr 23, 2020. Publicly Released: Apr 30, 2020.

Apr 1, 2020

Looking for more? Browse all our products here