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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release


September 2, 2010
TIGTA - 2010-48
Contact: Karen Kraushaar
(202) 622-6500
karen.kraushaar@tigta.treas.gov
TIGTA-PAO@tigta.treas.gov

Taxpayer Advocate Service Challenged by Many Factors, TIGTA Finds

WASHINGTON - Rising case receipts are presenting challenges for the Taxpayer Advocate Service to timely resolve taxpayer problems, according to a study released publicly today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Yet despite the challenges, the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), which is an independent organization within the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), is reporting high overall quality (88 percent) and customer satisfaction (84 percent) ratings, according to the report, "A Statistical Portrayal of the Taxpayer Advocate Service for Fiscal Years 2005 through 2009."

"The Taxpayer Advocate Service plays an important role in tax administration by helping taxpayers who have tried, unsuccessfully, to resolve their tax problems using normal IRS channels," said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. "However, I believe many of the issues identified in our review will continue to present challenges for this problem-solving organization."

According to the report, many internal and external factors have affected the TAS's ability to timely assist taxpayers. Specifically, the economy, the IRS's increased emphasis on enforcement actions, and legislative changes have led to more taxpayers asking for the TAS's help. For example, the number of TAS cases involving identity theft increased from 2,486 in FY 2006 to 14,023 in FY 2009 (an increase of more than 460 percent). Overall, TAS has experienced a 38 percent increase in case receipts since Fiscal Year 2005.

These factors have impaired the TAS's ability to timely resolve taxpayer problems, the report said. The report found that in Fiscal Year 2009, cases were open an average of 80 calendar days, an increase of 14 calendar days (22 percent) since Fiscal Year 2005.

The report made no recommendations. TAS management overall agreed with the facts and conclusions of the report.

To view the report, including the scope, methodology, and full IRS response, go to: http://www.treas.gov/tigta/auditreprts/2010reports/201010081fr.pdf.

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