IRS' Efforts To Help Taxpayers During the 1987 Tax Filing Season

Gao ID: T-GGD-87-12 April 8, 1987

GAO discussed the availability and quality of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) efforts to assist taxpayers. GAO noted that: (1) during fiscal year 1986, IRS responded to over 46 million telephone inquiries and 8.1 million walk-in inquiries; (2) IRS responds to a large number of inquiries through specialized community outreach programs; and (3) IRS provides similar assistance to taxpayers residing overseas. GAO also noted that IRS: (1) believes that budget reductions have adversely affected the quality of service it provides; (2) is increasing the use of computers and automated equipment to provide taxpayer assistance; (3) has significantly reduced the number of walk-in assistance centers; and (4) has increased the number of toll-free telephone lines available for taxpayer assistance and recorded tax information. In addition, GAO noted that: (1) it is testing the IRS telephone and walk-in assistance programs by making requests on a sample of tax-related subjects and evaluating IRS requester data; (2) its preliminary data indicated that a taxpayer could expect to reach IRS on the first call only 61 percent of the time, and within 5 calls only 87 percent of the time; (3) while time spent on hold decreased from previous years, it still fell short of the IRS goal; (4) IRS responded accurately 63 percent of the time, correctly but incompletely 15 percent of the time, and incorrectly 22 percent of the time; (5) some IRS walk-in offices do not systematically capture necessary information about requesters; and (6) service varied at IRS overseas offices.

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