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Highlights

Recent scandals involving corporations, company executives, and accounting, law, and investment banking firms heightened awareness of abusive tax shelters and highlighted the importance of the Department of the Treasury and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) addressing them. During 1999, Treasury issued a report indicating that abusive shelters were a large and growing problem, involving billions of dollars of tax reductions. Treasury was concerned that abusive shelters could ultimately undermine the integrity of the voluntary compliance tax system. GAO's statement today is based on work done at the request of the Chairman and the Ranking Minority Member of the Senate Committee on Finance to examine IRS's strategy for dealing with abusive tax shelters. In reporting on abusive shelters, GAO is describing (1) their nature and scope; (2) IRS's strategy and enforcement mechanisms to combat them and the performance goals and measures IRS uses to track its major effort in that area; and (3) the decision-making process IRS used and the plans it has to devote more resources to addressing abusive shelters.

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