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Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

December 4, 2013
TIGTA - 2013-55
Contact: David Barnes
(202) 622-3062

The IRS Needs to Improve Its Procedures to Ensure That Taxpayers Can Successfully Access Their Tax Account Information Online in a Secure Manner

WASHINGTON – The IRS should develop better procedures to provide taxpayers with secure online access to their tax account information. This is the finding of a new audit report issued today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98) requires the IRS to develop procedures to allow taxpayers filing returns electronically to review their accounts online. Since the enactment of this legislation, the IRS initiated the My IRS Account project to provide taxpayers with an online system to view, access, update, and manage their tax account. After 32 months of development and approximately $10 million in expenditures, the project was cancelled due to an ineffective enterprise-wide eAuthentication solution. eAuthentication is the process of establishing and verifying user identities electronically to a system.

TIGTA conducted this audit at the request of the IRS Oversight Board and found that none of the current applications that the IRS has developed and implemented met the intent of RRA 98. These applications only allow taxpayers to view a limited portion of their tax account information or to request tax transcripts be sent to certain lending institutions electronically. The IRS is planning to deploy the Get Transcript application in January 2014 and will enable taxpayers to access their tax account to obtain transcript information via the Internet.

TIGTA also determined that the IRS successfully deployed an eAuthentication solution for applications already deployed. However, the IRS has not completed required capacity testing to ensure the online applications can support the expected number of users. TIGTA also noted that cost information for the project was not readily obtainable for project management.

“Allowing taxpayers to securely access tax information online will modernize how the IRS interacts with taxpayers and allow for faster response to queries from the general public,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.

TIGTA made four recommendations to the IRS, and the IRS agreed with three of them.

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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