TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION

Office of Audit

Highlights

INTERIM RESULTS OF THE 2018 FILING SEASON

Final Report issued on April 5, 2018

Highlights of Reference Number:† 201840003 to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS

The filing season, defined as the period from January 1 through mid-April, is critical for the IRS because it is during this time that most individuals file their income tax returns and contact the IRS if they have questions about specific laws or filing procedures.† As of March 2, 2018, the IRS received approximately 61 million tax returns (with 95 percent electronically filed) and issued more than 48 million refunds totaling almost $148 billion.

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT

The objective of this review was to provide selected information related to the IRSís 2018 Filing Season.† TIGTA plans to issue the final results of our analysis of the 2018 Filing Season later in Calendar Year 2018.

WHAT TIGTA FOUND

In preparation for the 2018 Filing Season, the IRS updated its processes and procedures to address legislative requirements.† The IRS began accepting and processing individual tax returns on January 29, 2018, as scheduled.† On February 9, 2018, subsequent to the start of the filing season, Congress retroactively extended a number of tax provisions.† The IRS is currently implementing the necessary changes to enable taxpayers to claim these benefits on their Tax Year 2017 tax return.

As of March 1, 2018, the IRS processed 1.5 million tax returns that reported nearly $7.7 billion in Premium Tax Credits that were either received in advance or claimed at the time of filing.† Taxpayers received $829.3 million in Advanced Premium Tax Credits to which they were not entitled, of which $261.9 million was not required to be repaid.† In addition, the IRS held 9.4 million returns with refunds totaling $46.9 billion with an Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit claim as required.† Returns that were not identified by the IRS for additional review were released on or after February 15, 2018.

The IRS continues to expand its efforts to detect tax refund fraud.† As of February 24, 2018, the IRS reported that it identified 9,557 tax returns with approximately $46 million claimed in fraudulent refunds and prevented the issuance of $22.2 million (48.3 percent) in fraudulent refunds.† In addition, the IRS reports that it prevented approximately 7,376 fraudulent electronically filed tax returns as of February 28, 2018, and 1,442 paper-filed tax returns as of March 15, 2018, from being accepted into the processing system. †Also, the IRS identified and confirmed 2,204 fraudulent tax returns involving identity theft as of February 28, 2018, and identified 13,964 prisoner tax returns for screening as of February 24, 2018.

The IRS continues to offer more self‑assistance options that taxpayers can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including its IRS2Go app; YouTube channels; interactive self-help tools on IRS.gov; and Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook accounts.† In addition, as of March 17, 2018, taxpayers made approximately 33 million total attempts and 23.1 million net attempts to contact the IRS by calling the various customer service toll-free telephone assistance lines.† The IRS reports that approximately 11.8 million calls were answered with automation.† IRS assistors have answered nearly 6.4 million calls and provided a 78.1 percent Level of Service with a six-minute Average Speed of Answer.

Finally, during Fiscal Year 2018, the IRS plans to assist approximately 3 million taxpayers through face‑to‑face contact at the Taxpayer Assistance Centers.

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED

This report was prepared to provide interim information only.† Therefore, no recommendations were made in the report.

READ THE FULL REPORT

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

https://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2018reports/201840028fr.pdf. 

 

Phone Number ††/† 202-622-6500

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

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