TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION

Office of Audit

Highlights

Review of selected Criteria Used to Identify Tax-Exempt Applications for Review

Final Report issued on September 28, 2017

Highlights of Reference Number:  2017-10-054 to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS

In a prior audit, TIGTA determined that the IRS used inappropriate criteria to select tax‑exempt applications for further review.  Moreover, ineffective management resulted in substantial delays in processing certain applications and allowed unnecessary information requests to be issued.  It is critical that tax laws are administered in a fair and impartial manner.

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT

In the prior review, TIGTA audited criteria that the IRS stated it used to select potential political cases for additional review from May 2010 through May 2012.  The overall objective of this audit was to provide a historical account of the IRS’s development and use of 17 select criteria from 259 criteria used to identify tax‑exempt applications for review.  The 17 criteria discussed in this report were selected based on input from staff of various congressional committees of jurisdiction and the IRS as well as from training documents that were not provided to TIGTA in the prior audit.

WHAT TIGTA FOUND

TIGTA found that, from August 2004 through June 2013, the IRS potentially used 259 criteria to identify tax-exempt applications for further review.  Most of these criteria involved issues besides political campaign intervention, such as potential fraud, abuse, and links to terrorism.

In the prior audit, TIGTA found that the IRS used a tracking sheet to show which potential political cases were selected for further review; however, IRS management stated that case listings such as the one provided in the prior audit were not required.  Due to the lack of case listings for all but one of the 17 criteria, TIGTA used various sources to identify more than 900 cases that could potentially have been selected for review based on the 17 criteria.  However, TIGTA could not verify whether all relevant cases were identified.

Based on TIGTA’s review of case documentation, 181 of the more than 900 cases had evidence of political activities or indications of significant potential political campaign intervention (the subject of the prior audit).  Thirty-five of these cases were not processed while the applicable criteria were in use and did not appear to be processed based on the criteria.  For the remaining 146 cases, TIGTA determined that 83 were processed based upon the criteria and 63 were processed while the criteria were in use, but TIGTA could not confirm these 63 cases were selected based upon the criteria.  Analysis of the 146 cases is shown in each of the 17 sections of the report with information for each of these unique criteria. 

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED

TIGTA did not make any recommendations because the procedures in place when the 17 criteria were potentially used by the IRS are no longer in effect.

READ THE FULL REPORT

To view the report, including the scope, methodology, and full IRS response, go to:

https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2017reports/201710054fr.pdf.

 

Phone Number   /  202-622-6500

E-mail Address  /  TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov

Website             /  https://www.treasury.gov/tigta