Washington (Feb. 24, 2004) -- Efforts by the Internal Revenue Service to overcome the problems that weakened its enforcement activities are themselves running into problems, the U.S. General Accounting Office warned Congress.

Although the IRS is pressing forward on a number of projects aimed at reversing the trend toward declining collections of delinquent taxes and reduced tax audit activity, GAO investigators suggested that the tax service is taking short cuts that could jeopardize the success of these efforts.

“For example, some projects did not fully identify the causes of the productivity shortfalls, leaving a risk that the project did not fix the right problem,” they explained.

In other cases, GAO investigators said the IRS may be drawing improper conclusions based on faulty assumptions about enforcement productivity. A drop in the number of cases closed per employee, for example, may not reflect declining enforcement productivity if the complexity of those cases is rising over time, the GAO said.

-- Ken Rankin

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