Tax Administration:

IRS Tax Debt Collection Practices

T-GGD-96-112: Published: Apr 25, 1996. Publicly Released: Apr 25, 1996.

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GAO discussed the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) tax debt collection practices. GAO noted that: (1) each year, billions of dollars in taxes remain unpaid; (2) impediments to improving tax debt collection include the lack of accurate and reliable accounts receivable data and effective collection tools and programs, a backlogged receivables inventory, outdated collection processes, and antiquated computer systems; (3) some accounts receivable may be overstated, not valid, or owed by deceased or unlocatable taxpayers and defunct businesses; (4) IRS is modernizing its information and processing systems, but these actions will not be completed for several years; (5) although IRS use of private debt collectors could increase tax collections by locating and encouraging taxpayers to pay their delinquent taxes, they cannot actually collect taxes; (6) some states have successfully used private debt collectors to increase their delinquent tax collections; (7) IRS accounts receivable have been designated a high-risk area, but IRS cannot make major changes in its business operations by itself; (8) IRS needs a comprehensive strategy to guide its efforts to improve tax debt collections, starting with having accurate and reliable information; and (9) IRS could adopt private industry practices and use private debt collectors in some collection-related activities.

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