The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, J. Russell George, said bad data is to blame for the Internal Revenue Services' never-realized plan to close 68 Taxpayer Assistance Centers across the country.

Late last year, Congress stopped the IRS from reducing any taxpayer service functions or programs until TIGTA completed a study detailing the effect of the planned reductions on taxpayer compliance and assistance.

"Although we found the model that IRS used was sound, the data itself was flawed," said George, in a statement. "We will continue to monitor this area of concern as the IRS moves forward with its five-year Taxpayer Assistance Plan."

According to the report, in order to determine which of the 400 TACs to close, the IRS and an independent contractor used an industry-standard software package and developed a model weighing five criteria. The report says that while the model itself was sound, not all of the data used was accurate or the most current available. Also, some of the data was based on estimates and projections instead of actual data available.

The report, entitled "The Taxpayer Assistance Center Closure Plan was Based on Inaccurate Data," is available at www.treas.gov/tigta/auditreports/2006reports/200640061fr.html.

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