TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL
FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION
MANAGEMENT ADVISORY REPORT: REPORTING TAXPAYER COMPLAINTS AND ALLEGATIONS OF EMPLOYEE MISCONDUCT
Reference No. 2000-10-136
On July 22, 1998, the President signed into law the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98). This Act added 26 U.S.C. § 7803 (d)(2)(A), which requires the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) to include in each TIGTA Semiannual Report to the Congress information on the number of taxpayer complaints and allegations of employee misconduct received by the IRS and the TIGTA Office of Investigations. The three TIGTA Semiannual Reports issued to the Congress to date contain a footnote that the number of complaints reported by the IRS may contain duplicate information. In our Fiscal Year (FY) 1999 audit, we reported that the IRS did not have an integrated complaint processing system for identifying and reporting taxpayer complaints and allegations of employee misconduct. The IRS responded that a specific action plan would be developed to correct this deficiency.
The objective of this audit was to evaluate the process for reporting complaint information and allegations of employee misconduct that are included in the TIGTA’s Semiannual Report to the Congress. We performed limited audit work in the Commissioner’s Complaint Processing and Analysis Group (CCPAG) and in the TIGTA Office of Investigations’ Complaint Management Division (CMD). We did not validate the accuracy of either the IRS’ or the TIGTA’s number of taxpayer complaints and allegations of employee misconduct recorded on each organization’s manual and automated systems. However, we plan to do so in future audits. Our work was performed between May and July 2000.
The CCPAG and the TIGTA Office of Investigations’ CMD are responsible for compiling the number of complaints and allegations of employee misconduct, and the TIGTA is responsible for reporting this information in each TIGTA Semiannual Report to the Congress. The IRS and the TIGTA have separate processes for compiling complaint information. At the time of this review, the IRS had no manual or systemic process to identify duplicate complaint information.
In response to our FY 1999 audit, the IRS initiated planning to reduce the potential for duplicate complaints tracked on more than one system. In addition, in July 1999, the TIGTA implemented an enhanced complaint tracking system that has the ability to identify and eliminate duplicate information within its system. The IRS and the TIGTA currently do not have plans to identify potential duplicate information between the IRS and the TIGTA systems.
Separate Processes Are Used to Compile and Report the Number of Taxpayer Complaints for the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration’s Semiannual Report to the Congress
The following explains the IRS’ and the TIGTA’s separate processes for compiling and reporting taxpayer complaints and allegations of employee misconduct, and how the data are presented in the TIGTA’s Semiannual Report to the Congress.
The IRS’ process for compiling the number of complaints
In April and October of each year, the three IRS offices that maintain five automated and/or manual complaint systems forward the total number of complaints and allegations of employee misconduct from each system to the CCPAG. The CCPAG then forwards the total number of complaints from each system to the TIGTA Office of Investigations’ CMD for inclusion in the TIGTA’s Semiannual Report to the Congress.
The CCPAG cannot evaluate whether duplicate information is received from the three IRS offices because it is provided with only the total number of complaints from each of the IRS systems, not the information related to the complaints, such as the taxpayer name or the nature of the complaint. However, if the CCPAG did receive specific information on each complaint, it would be a labor-intensive process to identify duplicate complaints because the complaints are tracked differently on each system. For example, one system tracks taxpayer complaints by behavioral attributes, such as discriminatory treatment or unprofessional language, and another system tracks taxpayer contacts with the IRS to resolve tax problems and does not specifically track taxpayer complaints.
The TIGTA’s process for compiling the number of complaints
In July 1999, the TIGTA Office of Investigations began using an enhanced complaint inventory tracking system that generates the complaint information required by the RRA 98. The system records the number of complaints and allegations of employee misconduct received directly by the TIGTA from taxpayers and IRS employees. The system also has the ability to identify and eliminate duplicate information within the system, such as the same complaint that may have been recorded by several TIGTA employees.
Reporting the number of complaints in the TIGTA’s Semiannual Report to the Congress
The CMD includes both the IRS and the TIGTA complaint information in the TIGTA’s Semiannual Report to the Congress. The TIGTA information is presented as the total number of complaints received by the TIGTA. The IRS information is presented as five separate totals of complaints from each of the five complaint systems and contains a footnote that the IRS information may contain duplications. The CMD cannot determine whether duplications exist between the IRS and the TIGTA totals because information about the IRS complaints, such as the taxpayer name and the nature of the complaint, is not forwarded to the CMD.
The Internal Revenue Service Developed Plans to Improve Its Complaint Processing Systems
In response to our FY 1999 audit, the IRS developed short-term and long-term plans to improve its complaint processing systems.
IRS management has initiated planning to develop a complaint database by integrating data from two of the existing complaint systems. Data will also be integrated from another computer system currently not used for reporting complaints. A vendor will develop the integrated database using software to identify, analyze, and eliminate any duplicate complaint information prior to the CCPAG forwarding the information to the TIGTA. In addition, the IRS eliminated one complaint tracking system but will continue to forward complaint information to the TIGTA from the two remaining systems. This short-term plan should reduce the potential for duplicate information being forwarded to the CMD.
The IRS’ long-term plan is to replace the existing complaint systems with a more efficient and effective centralized system for tracking all taxpayer complaint information. The IRS has not yet initiated action on this long-term plan.