TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION

Office of Audit

Highlights

INTERIM RESULTS OF THE 2019 FILING SEASON

Final Report issued on April 2, 2019

Highlights of Reference Number:  2019-44-030 to the Commissioner of Internal Revenue.

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS

The filing season, defined as the period from January through mid-April, is critical for the IRS because it is during this time that most individuals file their income tax return and contact the IRS if they have questions about specific laws or filing procedures.  As of March 1, 2019, the IRS received approximately 59.2 million tax returns (with 95 percent electronically filed) and issued more than 46 million refunds totaling approximately $142 billion. 

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT

The objective of this review was to provide selected information related to the IRS’s 2019 Filing Season.  TIGTA plans to issue the final results of our analysis later in Calendar Year 2019.  The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 enacted the first major tax reform legislation in more than 30 years, significantly affecting the filing of tax returns during the 2019 Filing Season.  In addition to the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, the IRS is implementing a redesigned Form 1040, U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.  Further complicating the filing season, there was a partial Government shutdown that lasted 35 days, beginning on December 22, 2018, and ending January 25, 2019. 

WHAT TIGTA FOUND

In preparation for the 2019 Filing Season, the IRS updated its processes and procedures to address the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 and changes made to the Form 1040.  The changes included updating 542 tax products, updating 128 information technology systems, developing and issuing guidance documents, and updating fraud detection systems.  The IRS began accepting and processing individual tax returns on January 28, 2019.

As of February 15, 2019, the IRS held 10.7 million tax returns with refunds totaling $57.9 billion with an Earned Income Tax Credit or Additional Child Tax Credit claim as required. 

The IRS continues to expand its efforts to detect tax refund fraud.  As of February 23, 2019, the IRS reported that it identified 3,529 tax returns with approximately $15.8 million claimed in fraudulent refunds and prevented the issuance of $12.2 million (77.2 percent) in fraudulent refunds.  Additionally, the IRS identified and confirmed 3,741 fraudulent tax returns involving identity theft as of February 28, 2019, and identified 20,236 prisoner tax returns for screening as of February 23, 2019.

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, and interactive self-help tools on IRS.gov.  In addition, the IRS offers Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook access.  As of March 1, 2019, taxpayers made approximately 26.5 million total attempts and 16.1 million net attempts (calls made during business hours) to contact the IRS by calling the various customer service toll-free telephone assistance lines.  The IRS reports that it answered approximately 9.5 million calls with automation.  IRS assistors have answered nearly 3.1 million calls and provided a 55.6 percent Level of Service with a 13-minute Average Speed of Answer.

Finally, during Fiscal Year 2019, the IRS plans to assist approximately 2.7 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 this 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/2019reports/201944030fr.pdf.

 

Phone Number   /  202-622-6500

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

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