Tax Administration:

Collecting Delinquent Taxes and Communicating With Taxpayers

T-GGD-94-50: Published: Nov 9, 1993. Publicly Released: Nov 9, 1993.

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GAO discussed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) programs, focusing on: (1) IRS actions to increase its collection of delinquent taxes; and (2) taxpayer return filing and communication difficulties. GAO noted that: (1) the government could increase its revenues if IRS effectively and efficiently collected delinquent and currently-not-collectible taxes; (2) between 1992 and 1993, IRS delinquent tax collections have declined from $24.2 billion to $22.8 billion; (3) by the end of 1992, IRS gross accounts receivable totalled $131 billion, but only $22 billion was actually collectible; (4) IRS difficulties in collecting delinquent taxes include accounting errors, faulty monitoring systems, staffing imbalances, and antiquated collection procedures; (5) problems detected in the 1993 tax filing season included fewer taxpayer returns being filed, increased electronic filing fraud, telephone accessibility problems, delays in IRS written communications, and confusing forms, publications, and notices; (6) IRS needs to emphasize earlier contacts with taxpayers, tailor its actions to taxpayers, and better allocate its collection staff to more effectively collect delinquent taxes; and (7) IRS needs to better respond to taxpayers' correspondence and make its forms, publications, and notices easier to understand to ensure that it has successful filing seasons.

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