Senior revenue officers at the Internal Revenue Service who are supposed to handle more complicated tax cases oftentimes don’t receive any work assignments, according to a new government report.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration found in the report that the IRS’s Collection function is not identifying a sufficient number of complex cases for GS-13 revenue officers to work. Revenue officers are supposed to attempt to contact taxpayers and resolve collection matters that have not been resolved through notices sent by the IRS campuses or the IRS’s automated collection system. The IRS created the GS-13 revenue officer position in 2006 to handle more complicated tax cases and more sophisticated taxpayers.

The relative lack of work for the senior revenue officers to do occurred because there is no systemic means for IRS managers to identify the most complex cases, and the criteria for identifying complex cases are subjective and inconsistently interpreted.

“I am troubled that IRS managers are not providing employees with work assignments that they are ready and able to do at a time when it is incumbent on the IRS to be as efficient and effective as possible,” said TIGTA Inspector General J. Russell George in a statement.

According to collection inventory reports from Sept. 30, 2006, through June 30, 2009, not all GS-13 revenue officers were actively working cases, TIGTA found. But even though there was not enough work for them to do, the number of GS-13s has increased over the past four years, from 34 at the end of fiscal year 2006 to 148 as of June 2009, based on a resource forecasting formula.

To be sure, many of the GS-13s spend time working on lower-graded and less complex tax cases. TIGTA estimated that the IRS spent more than $1.4 million in salary for the time the GS-13 revenue officers took working on lower-graded cases instead of their targeted GS-13 graded inventory.

TIGTA recommended that the IRS improve the way it identifies and assigns complex collection cases. The IRS agreed with TIGTA’s recommendations.

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