TREASURY INSPEcTOR GENERAL
FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION
IMPROVING INTERNAL REVENUE SERVIcE PROcESSES
FOR EVALUATING AND PUBLIcIZING WALK-IN SERVIcES
Reference No. 094106
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) commissioner wants the IRS to provide quality service to every taxpayer. To meet this goal, the IRS is taking steps to enhance taxpayer assistance offered at walk-in offices. Employees in these offices provide taxpayers with tax forms and publications, answer tax questions, and assist in preparing tax returns.
During 1998, the IRS took several steps to provide better taxpayer service. These included surveying taxpayers to assess how they rated the service the IRS provided, opening over 150 walk-in offices on Saturdays, and holding special emphasis days to resolve taxpayer problems or concerns. Additionally, emphasis was placed on providing prompt and accurate service, and providing requested forms and publications. Our audit objective was to determine if the IRS has effective processes to evaluate and publicize walk-in services.
While the IRS has initiated many changes, we identified opportunities for additional process improvements. In the area of evaluating services, we determined the customer satisfaction survey used in walk-in offices was not readily available to every taxpayer. Also, the survey cards do not provide a section for taxpayer comments and do not identify individual walk-in offices. A process to consistently measure how promptly each taxpayer is served has not been implemented, and not all established quality review procedures were followed. Additionally, the IRS should select offices to be open on Saturdays based on taxpayer needs.
Efforts to fully publicize services available at walk-in offices can be improved, and special emphasis days should be timed to have greater impact on preventing tax problems.
Summary of Recommendations
We recommend the IRS:
Managementís Response: customer Service management generally agreed with the facts contained in our report; however, they indicated they would study the results of the surveys conducted in 1998 before making changes to the customer satisfaction survey. Some offices will use a manual form to determine how long taxpayers wait for service. Quality assurance will be assessed through readiness and peer reviews and, ultimately, a quality review process. They will better publicize IRS walk-in office locations and use the results of two studies to determine better, or additional, walk-in offices to maximize service. Also, special emphasis days will be scheduled earlier in the year. We agree with managementís planned actions to address these issues.