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Every tax filing season, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) must quickly and accurately process Americans' tax returns, issue refunds, and answer taxpayers' questions. The 2009 filing season, when 2008 tax returns are filed, was especially challenging because of stimulus-related tax law changes and IRS's expanded assistance to financially distressed taxpayers, such as adding flexibility for taxpayers to settle a tax liability for less than the full amount owed. Because of the magnitude and importance of the 2009 filing season, GAO was asked to (1) assess IRS's performance in processing individual income tax returns and providing taxpayer assistance, (2) describe taxpayer use of refund anticipation loans (RAL) and refund anticipation checks (RAC), and (3) identify what IRS knows about the number of taxpayers using its expanded assistance to financially distressed taxpayers. GAO analyzed performance data from IRS, compared the performance to prior years and selected goals, and interviewed IRS officials and external stakeholders.

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