The Government Accountability Office wants to see better descriptions and more cost and expected performance information on the Internal Revenue Service’s new initiatives in the agency’s future budget submissions.The IRS’s budget request for 2008 includes a spending increase of almost 5 percent, to $11.6 billion, and the GAO noted that the agency’s budget proposes shifting a greater proportion of spending to enforcement, continuing a trend.

But the GAO said that justifications for the new initiatives varied too much, lacking significant information in some cases. For example, an initiative for improving compliance estimates provided no information on how the budget, staff requests, or specific work to accomplished, had been determined.

The GAO did say that the IRS has made noticeable progress in its enforcement efforts, for example, between the 2004 and 2006 fiscal years, enforcement revenue increased 13 percent, to $48.7 billion. However, at the same time, GAO also mentioned the agency’s lack of a data-based plan to improve compliance.

And as far as IRS technology was concerned, the GAO still wants to see a long-term strategy that includes time frames for retiring legacy computer systems. Like the interim tax season report recently issued by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, the GAO also noted that disappointingly, the latest release of the Customer Account Data Engine, a faster tax processing system, was delayed.

The full report is available online, at www.gao.gov/new.items/d07719t.pdf.

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