Tax Administration

IRS Can Improve on the Success of Its Problem Resolution Program Gao ID: GGD-88-12 December 22, 1987

Pursuant to a congressional request, GAO evaluated the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Problem Resolution Program (PRP), focusing on: (1) its work load and effectiveness; (2) the impact of computer systems; and (3) implementation of prior GAO recommendations.

GAO found that the special assistance work load increased 800 percent between 1979 and 1985, because of: (1) computer problems that resulted in late refunds or erroneous notices; (2) unclear verbal and written communications with taxpayers; and (3) the normal system's inability to resolve taxpayers' problems. GAO also found that taxpayers' satisfaction increased significantly after they received special assistance. In addition, GAO found that IRS: (1) staff frequently failed to identify or timely refer taxpayers to PRP; (2) did not direct taxpayers to call their district office's toll-free telephone line instead of writing to service centers; (3) methodology for evaluating program effectiveness did not provide sufficient information for comprehensive systemwide assessment and improvement; and (4) case-coding system failed to effectively detect the common causes of taxpayer problem inquiries.


Our recommendations from this work are listed below with a Contact for more information. Status will change from "In process" to "Open," "Closed - implemented," or "Closed - not implemented" based on our follow up work.

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