Washington (July 18, 2003) -- The National Research Plan being implemented by the Internal Revenue Service is on track to meet its goal of getting quality research results while minimizing taxpayer burden, according to the General Accounting Office.

IRS officials have completed the development and testing of NRP processes and have selected and trained staff members to carry out the program. In addition, the IRS is nearing the completion of case building and has made progress in classifying NRP returns, GAO research indicates.

The IRS needs up-to-date information on voluntary compliance in order to assess and improve its programs. Its last detailed study of voluntary compliance was done in the late 1980s, so the agency decided to carry out the random audit program to perfect its techniques.

IRS auditors are reviewing about 47,000 randomly selected individual tax returns from 2001. In June 2002, the GAO reported that the NRP was necessary, its design was sound, and that it appeared to meet the IRS’s goals of acquiring useful compliance data while minimizing burden on taxpayers.

As the IRS completes NRP case building, classification, and audits, it is implementing quality assurance steps, including efforts to ensure that key audit steps are completed on all NRP audits before they are formally closed with taxpayers, according to GAO findings.

As of the end of March 2003, the IRS had completed following tasks:

  • 93.9 percent of case building;
  • 73.1 percent of classification; and
  • 9.3 percent closed audit cases.

The GAO made no recommendations in the report because it was satisfied that the IRS is following through sound research plans in the ongoing implementation of the NRP.-- WebCPA staff

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