TIGTA Seal graphic

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

August 10, 2011
TIGTA - 2011-45
Contact: Karen Kraushaar
(202) 622-6500

Report: IRS Fails To Meet Deadlines When Responding To Taxpayer Correspondence

WASHINGTON – Most taxpayers do not receive timely responses to their written inquiries to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), according to a new report from the Treasury Inspector General from Tax Administration (TIGTA).

The IRS received 20 million letters, forms, and other written correspondence from taxpayers in 2010. TIGTA reviewed three samples of taxpayer correspondence to determine whether the IRS is meeting its self-imposed requirements to respond to a taxpayer within 30 days or provide an update on the status of the response. Testing included sampling cases from three IRS functions — the Accounts Management function, the Automated Underreporter Program, and the Field Assistance Office.

While most final IRS responses to taxpayer correspondence are accurate, interim letters do not provide taxpayers with any information specific to their accounts and the content is not clear regarding what taxpayers need to do, TIGTA found.

If correspondence is not processed timely and systems are not updated to reflect a response by the designated time, the IRS may issue the next collection notice to the taxpayer automatically or move an account to the next step of the assessment or collection process, the report found.

“Inadequate and untimely responses to taxpayer correspondence adversely affect taxpayers and tax administration,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

TIGTA made four recommendations to the IRS, including that it clarify instructions so employees understand when a case requires a written response, should be placed in suspense, or closed, and when correspondence should be linked to prior cases. Additionally, TIGTA recommended that the IRS complete its ongoing study of interim letters to ensure they are strategically timed and provide taxpayers with an accurate status and time period for case resolution.

The IRS said it would review its instructions for processing correspondence and complete its study of interim responses.

Read the report.


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