IRS Snail Mails at a Snail's Pace
The Internal Revenue Service too often fails to produce timely and instructive letters to individual taxpayers, according to a new report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
Not that every taxpayer is eager to open such missives, but efficient correspondence is a reasonable performance measure for such a key agency that received 20 million letters and forms in 2010.
In a statistical sample of 73 correspondence cases from the service's Accounts Management function, TIGTA auditors found that only 14 (19 percent) of taxpayers received timely and accurate responses within the required 30 days. IRS fared better in its Automated Underreporter program, where 100 percent of letters were accurate, but only 56 percent were timely. In correspondence from the IRS's Field Assistance Office, only 8 percent taxpayers received timely and accurate responses.
The IRS accepted the report's recommendations on the need to clarify its instructions to correspondence employees. But it rejected TIGTA's five-year projections and error rates, saying the audits were based on unrepresentative samples.