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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

March 26, 2012
TIGTA - 2012-9
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062

TIGTA: Continued Improvements Are Needed to IRS Volunteer Program’s Database

WASHINGTON – A new database developed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to monitor performance by organizations that provide free tax preparation services to certain taxpayers has successfully integrated older legacy systems and improved the collection of data on these organizations, according to a new report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

However, the new tool leaves room for error because data must be manually entered, creating problems with timeliness and accuracy, TIGTA found in its report, which follows up on a 2008 TIGTA review.

“Since more than 88,000 volunteers prepared a combined 3.1 million Federal tax returns in Fiscal Year 2011, this new database will benefit not only the IRS but also those taxpayers who rely on volunteers to prepare their tax returns,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Our report makes specific recommendations on further improvements that should be made.”

The new database can generate more than 100 management reports, including reports on the quality of tax return preparation at individual volunteer program sites, TIGTA found. However, the database does not capture information necessary to compare expectations to accomplishments and requires that information from forms be manually input.

As part of its review, TIGTA found that 600 forms related to 135 Volunteer Program sites showed that 91 of the sites (67 percent) had data on at least one of the three forms reviewed that did not match the information contained on the database, known as the Stakeholder Partnerships, Education, and Communication Total Relationship Management System, or SPECTRM.

Among TIGTA’s recommendations are that the IRS consider modifying the database to accept uploads of electronic forms and require that Volunteer Program information entered into the database be periodically reviewed for timeliness and accuracy. IRS officials agreed with the recommendations.

Read the report.


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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