TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION

 

 

Taxpayers That Call Local Taxpayer Assistance Center Telephone Numbers
Are Unable to Schedule Appointments to Resolve Tax Account Issues

 

 

 

September 21, 2006

 

Reference Number:  2006-40-165

 

 

This report has cleared the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration disclosure review process and information determined to be restricted from public release has been redacted from this document.

 

Phone Number   |  202-927-7037

Email Address   |  Bonnie.Heald@tigta.treas.gov

Web Site           |  http://www.tigta.gov

 

September 21, 2006

 

 

MEMORANDUM FOR COMMISSIONER, WAGE AND INVESTMENT DIVISION

 

FROM:                            Michael R. Phillips /s/ Michael R. Phillips

                                         Deputy Inspector General for Audit

 

SUBJECT:                    Final Audit Report – Taxpayers That Call Local Taxpayer Assistance Center Telephone Numbers Are Unable to Schedule Appointments to Resolve Tax Account Issues (Audit # 200640031)

 

This report presents the result of our review to determine whether taxpayers receive quality customer service when calling the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) local area office telephone numbers to schedule appointments.

Impact on the Taxpayer

The IRS provides taxpayers the option of obtaining face‑to‑face assistance at 400 Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TAC).  Our review determined that auditors were unable to schedule appointments when they called the TAC to schedule an appointment.  The convenience of scheduling appointments could encourage taxpayers to try to resolve tax account problems earlier, and provide them the opportunity to reduce their wait times at the TACs, thus reducing taxpayer burden.

Synopsis

The IRS suggests that taxpayers visit TACs when they have complex tax issues, need to resolve tax problems relating to their tax accounts, have questions about how the tax law applies to their individual income tax returns, or feel more comfortable talking with someone in person.  The law[1] requires the IRS to publish the telephone numbers (3709 Lines) and addresses of its TACs in local telephone books so every taxpayer can have convenient access to the IRS.  The 3709 Lines received approximately 500,000 calls during the 2006 Filing Season[2] and approximately 1 million calls during Fiscal Year 2005.

For all 50 TACs we contacted during this review to schedule appointments (36 tax account issues and 14 tax law issues), the telephone messages generally were consistent, accurate, and properly advised the taxpayers of their options.  Appointments are to be made for taxpayers with complex tax account issues, not to ask tax law questions or prepare tax returns.  However, for 36 calls made to the 3709 Lines to schedule appointments to resolve a tax account issue, auditors were able to schedule only 5 appointments.  Auditors were unable to schedule the other 31 appointments because 4 TAC employees did not return the calls and 27 TAC employees that did return the calls would not, for various reasons, allow the auditors to schedule appointments.

IRS guidelines state that messages should be retrieved locally or remotely 3 times per day and calls should be returned within 2 business days.  TAC employees returned 42 (84 percent) of 50 calls.  However, 5 (10 percent) calls were not returned within 2 days and 8 (16 percent) calls were not returned at all. 

Auditors that called TAC 3709 Lines were unable to schedule appointments.

This happened because employees were not following Field Assistance Office guidelines for returning telephone calls and scheduling appointments.  In addition, Field Assistance Office internal guidelines are unclear and obsolete.  The Field Assistance Office has not updated its guidelines to reflect the current purpose of the 3709 Line Program.  There are no criteria for TAC employees to follow to determine if an appointment should be made for any tax account issue or if an appointment can be made only for complex issues that cannot be resolved over the telephone. 

The lack of accurate and complete management information hinders the Field Assistance Office’s ability to provide effective management oversight.

Inconsistent and inaccurate information prevented us from determining the overall impact of the 3709 Line Program and how it relates to the overall goals of the Field Assistance Office.  The Field Assistance Office does not maintain an overall list or database of the number of calls returned, or appointments scheduled through the 3709 Lines.  Also, the data gathered are not accurate or complete.  The lack of accurate and complete management information hinders the Field Assistance Office’s ability to provide effective management oversight.  Although only a small number of taxpayers currently use the 3709 Lines to request appointments, without an accurate overview of the Program, management cannot provide adequate oversight or make proper determinations regarding procedures and policies. 

Reliable information will be essential to IRS management as they develop the Taxpayer Assistance Blueprint, which is a study for the IRS to develop a 5‑year plan to improve taxpayer services.  Accurate and complete data will be essential in deciding what services taxpayers need or desire.

Recommendations

We recommended the Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division, determine the purpose and mission of the 3709 Line Program and the methodology to achieve the Program’s goals, which includes updating internal guidelines with the purpose and mission of the Program and ensuring TAC managers understand and are aware of the purpose and guidelines for scheduling appointments; provide the TACs with standardized internal controls for ensuring calls to the 3709 Lines are returned and appointments are appropriately scheduled; establish procedures for the Field Assistance Office to provide sufficient oversight of the 3709 Line Program to ensure it is meeting Program objectives; and develop or modify the Field Assistance Office management information systems to ensure they have the information needed to provide an overview of the 3709 Line Program; and establish a control to ensure the delivery of services appropriate to meet the Field Assistance Office’s objectives and goals. 

Response

IRS management agreed with our recommendations.  The IRS will revise its Internal Revenue Manual to more clearly define the purpose and mission of the 3709 Line Program, discuss guidelines with employees in group meetings to ensure their understanding of the purpose and supporting procedures, and review IRS.gov and recorded messages to ensure they effectively explain the Program’s purpose to taxpayers.  The IRS will develop a standardized method to capture the number of calls returned and the number of appointments made.  Clerical employees will be used for transcription and routine callbacks, but calls will be transferred to technical employees whenever a taxpayer requests an appointment.  A new quality review system will be established to ensure adherence to the revised guidelines.  Periodic reviews will be conducted to ensure calls are returned within 2 days and requested appointments are scheduled.  The IRS is assessing its current data reporting requirements for the 3709 Line Program and evaluating the best method for capturing this data.  Management’s complete response to the draft report is included as Appendix VIII.

Copies of this report are also being sent to the IRS managers affected by the report recommendations.  Please contact me at (202) 622-6510 if you have questions or  Michael E. McKenney, Assistant Inspector General for Audit (Wage and Investment Income Programs), at (202) 622-5916.

  

Table of Contents

 Background

Results of Review

Taxpayers Are Unable to Schedule Appointments at the Taxpayer Assistance Centers

Recommendation 1:

Recommendations 2 and 3:

The Field Assistance Office Does Not Have Reliable Management Information Needed to Obtain an Accurate Overview of the 3709 Line Program

Recommendation 4:

Appendices

Appendix I – Detailed Objective, Scope, and Methodology

Appendix II – Major Contributors to This Report

Appendix III – Report Distribution List

Appendix IV – Outcome Measure

Appendix V – Taxpayer Assistance Centers Called

Appendix VI – Taxpayer Assistance Center Automated Script

Appendix VII – Contact My Local Office Webpage on IRS.gov

Appendix VIII – Management’s Response to the Draft Report

 

 Abbreviations

 

BPMS

Business Performance Management System

IRS

Internal Revenue Service

TAC

Taxpayer Assistance Center

 

 Background

 

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides taxpayers the option of obtaining face‑to‑face assistance at 400 Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TAC).  The IRS suggests that taxpayers visit the TACs when they have complex tax issues, need to resolve tax problems relating to their tax accounts, have questions about how the tax law applies to their individual income tax returns, or feel more comfortable talking with someone in person.  The Field Assistance Office[3] has overall responsibility for overseeing the 400 TACs in 5 geographical areas throughout the country.  According to the IRS, these TACs served about 7 million taxpayers during Fiscal Year 2005.  Approximately 2.5 million of these taxpayers visited for assistance with an account issue.

Figure 1:  Taxpayer Contacts at the TACs for Fiscal Year 2005

Figure 1 was removed due to its size.  To see Figure 1, please go to the Adobe PDF version of the report on the TIGTA Public Web Page.

“Other Contacts” include, for example, assisting taxpayers that call the TACs or need help with the U.S. Departing Alien Income Tax Statement (Form 2063), date stamping tax returns brought in by taxpayers, helping taxpayers with general information such as addresses and directions to other IRS offices or other Federal Government agencies, and responding to unsolicited correspondence.

Despite overall declines in the number of taxpayer contacts over the last 3 fiscal years, the IRS has reported account contacts have increased.  The IRS 3709 Line[4] Program is designed to assist taxpayers with account issues.  In its 2005–2009 Strategic Plan, the IRS revised its customer service commitment to providing “excellent service to taxpayers and enforcing America’s tax laws in a balanced manner.”  The focus of the face-to-face service offered by the TACs is to move away from information and filing assistance toward compliance and enforcement activities.  

The law[5] requires the IRS to publish the telephone numbers (3709 Lines) and addresses of its TACs in local telephone books so every taxpayer can have convenient access to the IRS.  The 3709 Lines received approximately 500,000 calls during the 2006 Filing Season[6] and approximately 1 million calls during Fiscal Year 2005.  These calls are not reported as a separate balanced measure but are included in the “Other” category shown in Figure 1.

The automated message a taxpayer hears when calling a 3709 Line advises the caller that, if he or she is calling to schedule an appointment for help with a Federal tax problem or to change an appointment, the caller should leave a name and telephone number, with area code, and someone from the IRS will call back within 2 business days.  It further explains that a taxpayer cannot make an appointment to have a tax return prepared but must come into the office to do so.  Appendix VI provides the approved standardized script taxpayers hear when they call the 3709 Lines.  The IRS public Internet web site (IRS.gov) also states taxpayers can leave a message requesting an appointment to resolve a tax account issue.  Appendix VII provides the standardized message taxpayers see when they go to IRS.gov. 

This review was performed in the Wage and Investment Division Customer Assistance, Relationships, and Education function, Field Assistance Office in Atlanta, Georgia, during the period April through July 2006.  The audit was conducted in accordance with Government Auditing Standards.  Detailed information on our audit objective, scope, and methodology is presented in Appendix I.  Major contributors to the report are listed in Appendix II.

  

Results of Review

 

Taxpayers Are Unable to Schedule Appointments at the Taxpayer Assistance Centers

For all 50 TACs contacted during this review to schedule appointments (36 tax account issues and 14 tax law issues), the telephone messages generally were consistent, accurate, and properly advised the taxpayers of their options.  Appointments are to be made for taxpayers with complex tax account issues, not to ask tax law questions.  Taxpayers that seek tax return preparation assistance must visit the TACs to schedule an appointment.  However, for the 36 calls made to the 3709 Lines to schedule appointments to resolve tax account issues, auditors were able to schedule only 5 appointments.  Auditors were unable to schedule the other 31 appointments because 4 TAC employees did not return the calls and 27 TAC employees that did return the calls would not, for various reasons, allow the auditors to schedule appointments.  See Appendix V for the TACs included in our testing.

This happened because employees were not following Field Assistance Office guidelines for returning telephone calls and scheduling appointments.  In addition, Field Assistance Office internal guidelines are unclear and obsolete.  The Field Assistance Office has not updated its guidelines to reflect the current purpose of the 3709 Line Program.  There are no criteria for the TAC employees to follow to determine if an appointment should be made for any tax account issue or if an appointment can be made only for complex issues that cannot be resolved over the telephone. 

The convenience of scheduling appointments could encourage taxpayers to try to resolve tax account problems earlier, thus reducing taxpayer burden.  In addition, allowing taxpayers to call the 3709 Lines to schedule appointments for tax account issues provides them the opportunity to reduce their wait times at the TACs.  TACs could better manage resources by scheduling appointments during times when taxpayer traffic is usually lower.  TAC employees that know in advance they will be assisting a specific taxpayer with a specific tax issue could prepare for the appointment and might not feel as rushed.  This would provide better customer service.  

Employees did not return telephone calls timely, and employees did not follow guidelines for scheduling appointments

TAC employees returned 42 (84 percent) of 50 calls.  However, 5 (10 percent) calls were not returned within 2 business days and 8 (16 percent) calls were not returned at all.  IRS guidelines require messages to be retrieved locally or remotely 3 times per day and calls to be returned within 2 business days.  TAC managers at the selected TACs stated calls were not returned timely because they did not have a designated backup employee assigned to return calls when the primary employee was out of the office.

For 38 (90 percent) of 42 calls that were returned, employees did not route the calls to TAC managers when auditors requested appointments.  IRS guidelines require employees to route the calls to TAC managers when appointments are requested.  The TAC managers will contact the taxpayers to obtain any necessary information and schedule the appointments.  TAC managers at the selected TACs explained that employees did not know the criteria for scheduling appointments and/or employees did not follow guidelines. 

The purpose of the 3709 Line Program is unclear, and the guidelines are not designed to ensure taxpayer appointments are scheduled

The law established the requirement that the IRS publish local office telephone numbers in local telephone books so every taxpayer can have convenient access to the IRS.  The Field Assistance Office decided to use the 3709 Lines as a method for taxpayers to schedule appointments to come into the TACs to discuss complex tax account issues that cannot be resolved over the telephone. 

Initially, the IRS established Problem Solving Days to assist taxpayers that had tax issues they could not get resolved.[7]  In Fiscal Year 2002, the IRS replaced Problem Solving Days with “Everyday Tax Solutions.”  The goal of Everyday Tax Solutions is to reduce the expenditure of taxpayers’ time and to make problem resolution more convenient and available to all taxpayers.  If taxpayers call the IRS toll-free help line (1-800-829-1040) to request face-to-face appointments for issues that cannot be resolved over the telephone, assistors are to provide the 3709 Line telephone number for the nearest TAC and advise them they are to leave a message.  An IRS employee will return the call, at which time the taxpayer can schedule an appointment for a face-to-face meeting.

Internal guidelines do not state this intent, and Field Assistance Office officials have not appropriately communicated it to TAC employees.  This has led to confusion for TAC employees and taxpayers.  For example, below are the messages the IRS provides on the 3709 Lines and on IRS.gov:

·         The 3709 Lines message states:

If you [the taxpayer] are calling to request an appointment for help with a Federal tax problem or change an appointment, please leave your name and telephone number, with area code, and we will call you within 2 business days.

·         The IRS Internet web site states:

If you [the taxpayer] need to resolve a tax problem, have questions about how the tax law applies to your individual tax return, or you’re more comfortable talking with someone face-to-face, visit your local Taxpayer Assistance Center where you can spread out your records and talk with an IRS representative across the counter.  No appointment is necessary - just walk in - but if you prefer, you can call a local number . . . and leave a message requesting an appointment to resolve a tax account issue.

However, internal guidelines do not provide guidance on what is considered a complex tax issue that warrants a face-to-face meeting.  Generally, managers in each of the 50 TACs tested stated the purpose of the 3709 Line was for the IRS to comply with the law and provide taxpayers a method to schedule appointments.  Field Assistance Office officials stated an appointment can be made for issues that cannot be resolved over the telephone.  Guidelines do not provide instruction on what tax issues warrant appointments.  

The Field Assistance Office Headquarters was not aware that TAC employees were not allowing taxpayers to schedule appointments for tax account issues.  Furthermore, Field Assistance Office analysts had not identified any problems with the 3709 Line Program.  Analysts review quarterly reports, tracking the number of taxpayer calls (incoming) and ensuring TAC employees are returning calls (outgoing) within 2 business days.  However, they had not identified any problems.  After raising this concern to Field Assistance Office management, we were advised that steps are being taken to review internal controls and revise procedures to ensure the purpose of the 3709 Line Program is clearly defined. 

Internal controls, also called management controls, should provide reasonable assurance that the objectives of the agency or program are being achieved.  Internal control activities help ensure management’s directives are carried out.  The Standards for Internal Control in the Federal Government[8] state internal control systems need to be monitored, through ongoing monitoring activities, separate evaluations, or a combination of the two.  When procedures are not followed and internal controls are not in place to identify problems, program missions and goals can be affected. 

Recommendations

The Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division, should:

Recommendation 1:  Determine the purpose and mission of the 3709 Line Program and the methodology to achieve the Program’s goals.  This includes updating internal guidelines to include the purpose and mission of the Program and ensuring TAC managers understand and are aware of the purpose and guidelines for scheduling appointments.

Management’s Response:  IRS management agreed with this recommendation and will revise the Internal Revenue Manual to more clearly define the purpose and mission of the 3709 Line Program, and provide practical guidelines for when a scheduled appointment is appropriate.  The IRS also stated the new guidelines will be discussed with employees in group meetings to ensure their understanding of the purpose and supporting procedures.  The IRS will also review their web site and recorded messages to ensure they effectively explain the Program’s purpose to taxpayers.

Recommendation 2:  Provide the TACs with standardized internal controls for ensuring calls to the 3709 Line are returned and appointments are scheduled appropriately.

Management’s Response:  IRS management agreed with this recommendation and will develop a standardized method to capture the number of calls returned and the number of appointments made, which will be used to manage the 3709 Line Program.  The IRS stated in order to ensure adherence with procedures defining when an appointment is needed, it will use clerical employees for transcription and routine callbacks, but transfer calls to technical employees whenever a taxpayer requests an appointment.

Recommendation 3:  Establish procedures for the Field Assistance Office to provide sufficient oversight of the 3709 Line Program to ensure it is meeting program objectives.  For example, as part of the quality assurance efforts, Field Assistance Office analysts could leave messages on 3709 Lines periodically, to determine whether calls are returned and appointments are made appropriately.

Management’s Response:  IRS management agreed with this recommendation and will establish a new quality review system to ensure adherence to the revised guidelines.  The IRS stated Area Office Directors and Field Assistance Office Headquarters will conduct periodic reviews to ensure calls are returned within 2 days and requested appointments are scheduled.  They stated the findings will be documented and actions taken to correct any discovered deficiencies.   

The Field Assistance Office Does Not Have Reliable Management Information Needed to Obtain an Accurate Overview of the 3709 Line Program

Inconsistent and inaccurate information prevented us from determining the overall impact of the 3709 Line Program and how it relates to the overall goals of the Field Assistance Office.  The Field Assistance Office does not maintain an overall list or database of the number of calls returned and appointments scheduled through the 3709 Lines.  In addition, the data gathered are not accurate or complete. 

The number of incoming calls from taxpayers to the 3709 Lines and the number of outgoing calls returned to taxpayers is tracked manually.  TAC employees first keep a log of calls from taxpayers, including their names and telephone numbers, the dates of the calls, and the dates the calls were returned.  There is no requirement that these logs be maintained.

From the logs, the total number of calls (units) is transferred to the employees’ timesheets, called the Field Assistance Activity Report (Form 5311).  The calls and time spent (hours) completing 3709 Line tasks are categorized into activity codes for tracking purposes.  Instructions for recording the calls are shown in Figure 2.

Figure 2:  Timesheet Recording Instructions for
Documenting Calls Received and Returned by TAC Employees

 

Units:  Include a unit for the following:

Hours:  Include all time expended:

Activity Code 01 - Customer Incoming Telephone Calls

No unit count should be recorded for retrieving 3709 Line messages; report time only. 

Recording outgoing message for the
3709 Line.

Only employees returning telephone calls to customers who left messages on the 3709 Line should record a unit count.  One unit should be recorded for each customer.  (Outgoing)

 

Transcribing messages received on the 3709 Lines.

Activity Code 35 - 3709 Lines

Include a unit count for all recorded telephone calls received on the 3709 Lines, including calls during which the customer hung up prior to leaving a message.  (Incoming)

 

Responding to and retrieving messages from the 3709 Lines.

Source:  Field Assistance Office manual. 

From the individual Forms 5311, the units are manually input to the TACs’ Call Tracking Worksheets.  The Worksheets are submitted electronically every month to each of the five Area Office[9] Directors.  Quarterly, the Area Office 3709 Lines Coordinators forward the completed worksheets to the Field Assistance Office Headquarters 3709 Lines Coordinator for consolidation. 

Additionally, the data captured on Forms 5311 are input to the Field Assistance Office’s two management information systems:  the Resources Management Information System (which creates a permanent record of units and time expended for each activity) and daily to the Business Performance Management System (BPMS).  These systems are used by the Field Assistance Office to oversee the TAC Program.

Neither the Call Tracking Worksheets, the Resources Management Information System, nor the BPMS reports the number of appointments scheduled.  Also, neither Systems’ reports show the specific number of outgoing 3709 Line calls.  Outgoing calls are tracked using Activity Code 01; however, Activity Code 01 is also used to report a number of incoming calls for other TAC activities.  

In addition, an analysis of the Call Tracking Worksheets, Area Office Directors’ Quarterly Reports, and BPMS reports showed the following inconsistencies:

  • Outgoing calls reported on the Area Office Directors’ Quarterly Reports (October–December 2005 and January–March 2006) totaled 191,279 compared to 178,210 outgoing calls reported on the BPMS.  
  • Incoming and outgoing calls on all 15 Call Tracking Sheets tested did not reconcile to the BPMS.
  • Call Tracking Worksheets did not report the number of taxpayer calls returned accurately.

The lack of accurate and complete management information hinders the Field Assistance Office’s ability to provide effective management oversight.  Although only a small number of taxpayers currently use the 3709 Lines to request appointments, without an accurate overview of the program, management cannot provide adequate oversight or make proper determinations regarding procedures and policies. 

In addition, reliable information will be essential to IRS management as they develop the Taxpayer Assistance Blueprint, which is a study for the IRS to develop a 5‑year plan to improve taxpayer services.  Accurate and complete data will be essential in deciding what services taxpayers need or desire. 

Recommendation

The Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division, should:

Recommendation 4:  Develop or modify the Field Assistance Office’s employee instructions for tracking 3709 Line tasks to ensure management information systems have the information needed to provide an overview of the 3709 Line Program, and establish a control to ensure it is providing the appropriate services to meet the Field Assistance Office’s objectives and goals.  As the 3709 Line Program grows, the systems should be continually monitored to ensure they are meeting current and future needs.  Also, procedures should be developed to ensure the information is current and accurate.

Management’s Response:  IRS management agreed with this recommendation and recognized the value of collecting additional information to better manage the 3709 Line Program.  The IRS is assessing its current data reporting requirements for the 3709 Line Program and is evaluating the best method for capturing this data.  The IRS stated it realizes the need to separately capture callbacks on 3709 Line telephone messages, but currently this data cannot be separated from other telephone activities.

 Appendix I

 

Detailed Objective, Scope, and Methodology

 

Our overall objective was to determine whether taxpayers receive quality customer service when calling the IRS local area office telephone numbers to schedule appointments.  To achieve this objective, we:

I.                   Reviewed Field Assistance Office internal guidelines for administering and managing the 3709 Line Program.  The Field Assistance Office is within the Wage and Investment Division Customer Assistance, Relationships, and Education function.

II.                Met with Field Assistance Office officials to discuss the goals of the 3709 Line Program, how it fits in the customer service strategy and plans, and the methodology for monitoring performance reported on the BPMS.  The BPMS is a management information system used by the Field Assistance Office to oversee the TAC Program.

III.             Evaluated the 3709 Lines to determine if they assist the IRS in providing quality customer service.

A.    Developed 10 scenarios around 7 tax account and 3 tax law topics designed to require assistors to determine if our issues met the criteria for scheduling an appointment (e.g., to discuss setting up an installment agreement to pay outstanding taxes).

B.     Selected a sample of 50 TACs.  We judgmentally selected large, medium, and small TACs from each of the five areas based on the number of taxpayer calls to the 3709 Line.  We did not take a statistical sample because we could not identify a population of taxpayer calls to the 3709 Lines.

C.     Called the 3709 Lines at the 50 selected TACs (36 with tax account questions and 14 with tax law questions) during April 2006 and left messages requesting face-to-face appointments. 

D.    Determined if the 3709 Lines’ automated messages are consistent and accurate. 

E.     Determined if Field Assistance Office employees returned calls within the required 2 business days. 

F.      Determined if Field Assistance Office employees scheduled appointments for the 36 calls with tax account questions.

IV.             For all 50 TACs contacted, provided our results to TAC managers to determine why procedures were not followed and what process is used to provide oversight. 

V.                Discussed results and corrective actions with Field Assistance Office executives.

 

Appendix II

 Major Contributors to This Report

 

Michael E. McKenney, Assistant Inspector General for Audit (Wage and Investment Income Programs)

Augusta R. Cook, Director

Frank Jones, Audit Manager

Jerome Antoine, Lead Auditor

Kenneth Carlson, Senior Auditor

Robert Baker, Auditor

Roberta Fuller, Auditor

 

Appendix III

 Report Distribution List

 

Commissioner  C

Office of the Commissioner – Attn:  Chief of Staff C

Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement  SE

Deputy Commissioner, Wage and Investment Division  SE:W

Director, Customer Assistance, Relationships, and Education, Wage and Investment Division  SE:W:CAR

Director, Strategy and Finance, Wage and Investment Division  SE:W:S

Chief, Performance Improvement, Wage and Investment Division  SE:W:S:PI

Director, Field Assistance, Wage and Investment Division  SE:W:CAR:FA

Chief Counsel  CC

National Taxpayer Advocate  TA

Director, Office of Legislative Affairs  CL:LA

Director, Office of Program Evaluation and Risk Analysis  RAS:O

Office of Internal Control  OS:CFO:CPIC:IC

Audit Liaison:  Senior Operations Advisor, Wage and Investment Division  SE:W:S

 

Appendix IV

 

Outcome Measure

 

This appendix presents detailed information on the measurable impact that our recommended corrective actions will have on tax administration.  This benefit will be incorporated into our Semiannual Report to Congress.

Type and Value of Outcome Measure:

·         Taxpayer Burden – Potential; 31 instances in which auditors were not allowed to schedule face-to-face appointments (see page 3).

Methodology Used to Measure the Reported Benefit:

If the results for the 50 messages we left on 3709 Lines[10] are indicative of the actual results taxpayers receive when they request appointments, we estimate 31 instances were inappropriately denied appointments.

 

Appendix V

 

Taxpayer Assistance Centers Called

 

The map was removed due to its size.  To see the map, please go to the Adobe PDF version of the report on the TIGTA Public Web Page.

 

Appendix VI

 

Taxpayer Assistance Center Automated Script 

 

Callers to 3709 Lines[11] are greeted with an automated telephone message using a recorded script; a live person does not answer the telephone.  The Field Assistance Office[12] requires its employees to use an approved standardized script when recording the 3709 Line message.  The general script:

First.                    Provides the address and hours of operation of the office.  If the 3709 Line is used for multiple offices, the message will provide the addresses and hours of operations for all offices. 

Second.          Advises callers that, if they are calling for help preparing a Federal income tax return and their income is $38,000 or less, they must visit the office.  They cannot preschedule assistance on this line, and same day appointments may not be available.

Third.                 Advises callers that, if they are calling to schedule an appointment for help with a Federal tax problem or to change an appointment, they should leave their name and telephone number, with area code, and someone will call them within 2 business days.

Fourth.             Advises callers of what numbers to call for various other IRS services and products, including referring callers to IRS.gov.

 

Appendix VII

 

Contact My Local Office Webpage on IRS.gov

 

When a taxpayer goes to IRS.gov to locate a TAC, he or she:

First.                    Clicks “Contact IRS” at the top of the IRS web site.

Second.          Clicks “Contact My Local Office.”  See Figure 1.

Figure 1:  Contact My Local Office Webpage

Figure 1 was removed due to its size.  To see Figure 1, please go to the Adobe PDF version of the report on the TIGTA Public Web Page.

 

Third.                 Clicks on the appropriate State.  At the top of the webpage, the same synopsis is provided for all States.  At the bottom of the page is a list of TACs in the selected State, along with the address, local telephone number, and hours of operation of each TAC.  See Figure 2.

Figure 2:  Face-to-Face Tax Help

Figure 2 was removed due to its size.  To see Figure 2, please go to the Adobe PDF version of the report on the TIGTA Public Web Page.

 

 

Appendix VIII

 

Management’s Response to the Draft Report

 

The response was removed due to its size.  To see the response, please go to the Adobe PDF version of the report on the TIGTA Public Web Page.



[1] IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, Pub. L. No. 105-206, 112 Stat. 685 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 2 U.S.C., 5 U.S.C. app., 16 U.S.C., 19 U.S.C., 22 U.S.C., 23 U.S.C., 26 U.S.C., 31 U.S.C., 38 U.S.C., and 49 U.S.C.).

[2] The filing season is the period from January through mid-April when most individual income tax returns are filed.

[3] The Field Assistance Office is within the Wage and Investment Division Customer Assistance, Relationships, and Education function.

[4] The local area office telephone numbers for the TACs are referred to as the 3709 Lines.

[5] IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, Pub. L. No. 105-206, 112 Stat. 685 (codified as amended in scattered sections of 2 U.S.C., 5 U.S.C. app., 16 U.S.C., 19 U.S.C., 22 U.S.C., 23 U.S.C., 26 U.S.C., 31 U.S.C., 38 U.S.C., and 49 U.S.C.).

[6] The filing season is the period from January through mid-April when most individual income tax returns are filed.

[7] Problem Solving Days were IRS-sponsored events that gathered IRS employees from various functions, during nontraditional working hours, to help taxpayers resolve tax issues they had not yet been able to solve.

[8] GAO/AIMD-00-21.3.1, dated November 1999.

[9] Field Assistance area offices are comprised of managers and analysts responsible for the oversight of TACs in a defined geographical area.

[10] The local area office telephone numbers for the TACs are referred to as the 3709 Lines.

[11] The local area office telephone numbers for the TACs are referred to as the 3709 Lines.

[12] The Field Assistance Office is within the Wage and Investment Division Customer Assistance, Relationships, and Education function.