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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release


September 10, 2012
TIGTA - 2012-41
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062
David.barnes@tigta.treas.gov
TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov

The IRS Needs Better Information to Assess Ongoing Efforts to Expand Self-Assistance and Virtual Services to Taxpayers

WASHINGTON – The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not yet have sufficient data to determine if Facilitated Self-Assistance and Virtual Services are an effective and efficient means of providing customer service to taxpayers.

This is the finding of a new audit report released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Each year, millions of taxpayers turn to the IRS for help in preparing their tax returns. The IRS is testing strategic initiatives to examine the feasibility of Facilitated Self-Assistance and video conferencing technology as alternative service delivery options for taxpayers who seek traditional face-to-face contacts at Taxpayer Assistance Centers and Volunteer sites.

TIGTA conducted this audit to determine the effectiveness of the IRS’s efforts to expand taxpayer assistance using such technologies.

TIGTA found that the IRS has not yet established goals and measures for its initiatives to gauge their success, including data to determine if any or all are cost effective. In addition, TIGTA had difficulty contacting or locating Volunteer Program sites that offered Facilitated Self-Assistance or Virtual Services.

“Taxpayers have different preferences and service requirements,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “The IRS’s challenge is to meet taxpayer needs and determine how to provide the best services with its limited resources,” he added.

TIGTA recommended that the IRS:

IRS management agreed with three of the four recommendations and plans to take actions to improve its efforts to expand and monitor taxpayer assistance using self-assistance and virtual technology service options.

Read the report.

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Note: The difference between the date TIGTA issues an audit report to the Internal Revenue Service and the date TIGTA publicly releases the report is due to TIGTA's internal review process to ensure that public release is in compliance with Federal confidentiality laws.

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