GAO Report Finds IRS Management of Collection Process Still Not Living Up to Expectations

A U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) report released on Septmember 10, 2015, found that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) lacks written documentation of its collection program objectives and methodology. The GAO study concluded that these deficiencies make it difficult to assess the program’s effectiveness.

According to the report, the IRS estimated that for tax year 2006, the $450 billion gross tax gap included $46 billion due in delinquent tax liabilities and $28 billion due in unfiled tax returns. One of the primary means by which IRS pursues delinquent taxpayers is through the Automated Collection System (ACS). ACS, which in 2014 represented just over 25% of IRS collection program staff, is largely a call center operation that uses automated calls and letters to remind taxpayers of their tax delinquency. ACS also handles incoming calls from taxpayers responding to delinquency notices and enforcement actions.

The report states that ACS has experienced significant declines in staffing, with full time equivalents decreasing by 20 percent (from 3,672 to 2,932) from fiscal years 2012 through 2014, and that unresolved collection cases at the end of each year increased by 21 percent (from 4.2 million to 5.1 million).

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