Monday, June 3, 2013
The Government Accountability Office has released Tax Expenditures: IRS Data Available for Evaluations Are Limited (GAO-13-479):
By one measure, tax expenditures resulted in an estimated $1 trillion of revenue forgone by the federal government in fiscal year 2011. GAO has recommended greater scrutiny of tax expenditures, as periodic reviews could help determine how well specific tax expenditures achieve their goals and how their benefits and costs compare to those of other programs with similar goals. To assist with this, GAO recently issued a guide (GAO-13-167SP) for evaluating the performance of tax expenditures. GAO was asked to identify data needed for evaluating tax expenditures and its availability. This report: (1) determines the information available from IRS for evaluating tax expenditures; and (2) compares, for a few case studies, the information identified by federal agencies for evaluating outlay programs with similar purposes to tax expenditures. To address these objectives, GAO analyzed 173 tax expenditures, and information from IRS tax forms, federal agency performance reports, and prior GAO reports.