Financial Audit

Examination of IRS' Fiscal Year 1997 Custodial Financial Statements Gao ID: AIMD-98-77 February 26, 1998

The Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) Custodial Financial Statements report the assets, liabilities, and results of activities related solely to IRS' custodial responsibilities for implementing federal tax legislation, including collecting federal tax revenues, refunding overpayments of taxes, and pursuing collections of amounts owed. This report contains GAO's (1) opinion on IRS' Custodial Financial Statements, (2) opinion on IRS management's assertion about the effectiveness of internal controls, and (3) conclusions on IRS' compliance with significant provisions of laws and regulations and on whether its systems complied with requirements of the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996. This report also discusses significant matters that GAO considered in performing its audit and in reaching conclusions, including identified weaknesses in IRS' internal controls and noncompliance with laws and regulations.

GAO noted that: (1) the IRS custodial financial statements were reliable in all material respects; (2) IRS management's assertion about the effectiveness of internal controls stated that except for the material weaknesses in internal controls presented in the agency's FY 1997 Federal Managers' Financial Integrity Act (FIA) report, internal controls were effective in satisfying the following objectives: (a) safeguarding assets from material loss; (b) assuring material compliance with laws governing the use of budget authority and with other relevant laws and regulations; and (c) assuring that there were no other material misstatements in the custodial financial statements; (3) however, GAO found that IRS' internal controls, taken as a whole, were not effective in satisfying these objectives; (5) due to the severity of the material weaknesses in IRS' financial accounting and reporting controls, all of which were reported in IRS' FY 1997 FIA report, extensive reliance on ad hoc programming and analysis was needed to develop financial statement line item balances, and the resulting amounts needed material audit adjustments to produce reliable custodial financial statements; and (6) one reportable noncompliance with selected provisions of laws and regulations GAO tested, and that IRS' financial management systems do not substantially comply with the requirements of the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act of 1996.

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