The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released its Semiannual Report to Congress for the period October 1, 2018 through March 31, 2019. During this period, TIGTA completed 20 audits and 1,068 investigations concerning taxpayer data security, identity theft and impersonation fraud, tax compliance, and IRS efficiency. Of particular concern for this report and future monitoring was the effect of the lapse of appropriations for the IRS just before the start of the first tax season to incorporate changes from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA).
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a report finding that accuracy-related penalties are not often proposed in audits of large businesses, and the penalties are generally not sustained on appeal. Between FY 2015 and FY 2017, TIGTA found that of the $773 million in proposed penalties that went to the Office of Appeals, there was a reduction of those penalties totaling $765 million. Of some 4,600 business return exams studied, which resulted in additional tax assessments of $14 billion, only 6 percent had accuracy-related penalties assessed.
The Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released its interim report on the 2019 federal tax filing season. As of March 1, 2019, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) had received over 59 million tax returns and issued approximately $142 billion in refunds on over 46 million of those returns. A vast majority - 95 percent - of filers e-filed their returns this season.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently reported on self-employment tax compliance in light of the growth of the gig economy. The IRS last estimated that self-employment taxes accounted for $69 billion of the annual tax gap. TIGTA reviewed Forms 1099-K for tax years 2012 through 2015 issued by the top nine payer companies participating in the gig economy. Over 260,000 instances of potentially underreported payments were identified, and the number of discrepancies increased 237 percent from 2012 to 2015. Due to the large volume of discrepancies identified, the IRS' Automated Underreporter (AUR) program declined to work on 59 percent of total cases, including over 2,800 taxpayer cases in which there was potential underreporting for all four years of Forms 1099-K reviewed. The total potential payments related to those taxpayers was $2.7 billion.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released its biannual independent assessment of the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS') private debt collection program, which became a requirement under the 2015 FAST Act. According to TIGTA, the private collection agencies are performing well with respect to procedural accuracy and professionalism. Customer satisfaction scores are generally in the low- to mid-90 percent range. As of September 2018, the private collectors had been assigned more than 700,000 taxpayer accounts and collected approximately $88.8 million from the balances owed.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) released its final report on the 2018 filing season just before the federal government shutdown. As of May 4, 2018, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) received over 140 million tax returns, 89% of which were e-filed. The IRS issued over 101 million refunds in 2018, totaling nearly $282 billion.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently audited the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS's) SS-8 Program, which addresses worker classification issues. The standard options have been either employee or independent contractor. However, in recent years, classification has become more complicated with the emergence of the "gig economy," defined by its reliance on short-term contracts and freelance work.
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently reviewed the Internal Revenue Serivce's (IRS's) program on Collection Due Process requests, and found it to have similar room for improvement as compared to TIGTA's last review. For instance, the program could be more accurate in classifying requests and providing the correct type of hearing to taxpayers. The IRS also needs to improve how it handles taxpayer requests initially sent to the wrong location, as well as how it calculates statute expiration dates. For more information on the results of this review, click here.
The Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently conducted an audit of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS)'s latest private debt collection program and found much room for improvement. As of May 31, 2018, the private debt collection program had netted $1.3 million, but the private agencies have collected only 1 percent of the $4.1 billion assigned to the program. For reference, the industry average for 2016 was 9.9 percent.
An Internal Revenue Service (IRS) supervisor in the Central District of California, Leslie Williams, was arrested this week on charges of theft of government property and making false statements. Williams allegedly embezzled federal funds and lied to obtain death benefit payments related to her former spouse. She continued to lie about her relationship to her deceased former spouse when interviewed in 2017 by special agents for the Treasury Inspector General of Tax Administration (TIGTA). She was released on a $10,000 appearance bond and had to surrender her passport; Williams could serve up to 10 years in prison for the charges.