Tax Administration

Better Measures Needed to Assess Progress of IRS' One-Stop Service Gao ID: GGD-94-131 August 29, 1994

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been frequently criticized for its handling of taxpayer questions, requests for assistance, and complaints. In response, IRS has developed a concept of taxpayer assistance known as "one-stop service." The idea is that taxpayers should be able to call, write, or walk into an IRS office for help with any kind of tax problem and see that matter resolved with only one contact by the taxpayer. GAO concludes that both taxpayers and IRS will benefit if IRS can achieve its one-stop service goals. Taxpayers will be able to avoid time-consuming dealings with multiple IRS contacts, and IRS should see increased taxpayer compliance. Between 1992 and 1993, IRS improved its delivery of one-stop service to taxpayers who called with account questions. However, several barriers still limit IRS' ability to deliver one-stop service over the telephone. IRS hopes to remove some of these barriers by consolidating various telephone and correspondence handling services into 23 Customer Service Centers, which should be up and running by 2001. In the meantime, current measures overstate delivery of one-stop service at toll-free sites.

GAO found that: (1) one-stop service, if properly implemented, would significantly improve IRS service to taxpayers; (2) IRS has taken steps to improve its telephone account service for taxpayers; (3) IRS has overstated its accomplishments in providing one-stop telephone service because its measure of service is flawed; (4) many of the callers IRS assumes receive one-stop service have to make further contact with IRS to resolve tax issues; (5) several obstacles, including processing delays and congested telephone lines, hinder IRS ability to provide one-stop telephone service; (6) IRS has not yet analyzed its ability to deliver one-stop service in areas other than account inquiries because it assumes that taxpayers making other types of inquiries usually receive one-stop service; (7) although IRS has begun to measure one-stop service for calls to automated collection sites and has made attempts to measure service in handling taxpayer correspondence, little has been done to measure one-stop service for forms distribution centers and walk-in sites; and (8) IRS should develop better measures to assess all of its service activities.


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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