Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
March 12, 2013
TIGTA - 2013-08
Contact: David Barnes
WASHINGTON – Employees of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) can be exposed to many difficult, threatening, and even extremely dangerous situations because of daily and ongoing interactions with the public. The safety of its employees has always been a top priority for the IRS. However, not all IRS employees have sufficient knowledge of the employee protection programs that the IRS administers, according to a new audit report released publicly today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).
The IRS established its Office of Employee Protection (OEP) and the Potentially Dangerous Taxpayer (PDT) and Caution Upon Contact (CAU) Programs to improve its ability to identify taxpayers who represent a potential danger to IRS employees. Although these programs are adequately controlled, TIGTA’s review found that some IRS employees who have direct contact with taxpayers do not have sufficient knowledge of the PDT and CAU Programs. TIGTA identified several threatening incidents by taxpayers that were not reported to the OEP or TIGTA, and other circumstances where training courses and internal guidance for these employees were incomplete or inaccurate.
“The IRS depends upon its employees to recognize dangerous taxpayers and properly report threatening incidents,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Failure to report threats or verbal abuse can put other IRS employees at risk,” he added.
From interviews with 34 IRS employees who have had direct contact with taxpayers, 88 percent of these employees were familiar with the PDT designation, but only 29 percent had heard of the CAU designation. In addition, only 18 percent of these employees have heard of the OEP and its mission, and only 15 percent responded that they had received specific training on the OEP and the PDT and CAU Programs.
Furthermore, the OEP is located within the office that focuses on taxpayer compliance activities and not the office whose responsibilities include employee safety. TIGTA found that this organizational misalignment and the limitation of resources make it difficult for the OEP to properly and effectively administer the PDT and CAU Programs.
IRS management agreed with all three of TIGTA’s recommendations for improvement and has taken or plans to take appropriate corrective actions.
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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