TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Profit Shifting Of U.S. Multinationals

Tim Dowd, Paul Landefeld & Anne Moore (Joint Committee on Taxation), Profit Shifting of U.S. Multinationals:

We analyze the profit shifting behavior of U.S. multinational firms using a unique panel data set of U.S. tax returns over the period 2002-2012. Prior research has found significant effects of tax rates in affiliate and parent countries on the profit shifting behavior of multinational entities, with semi-elasticities ranging from close to zero to well above one. We build on this prior work by allowing more heterogeneity in response across the distribution of tax rates and by including affiliates located in tax havens around the world. Our findings suggest that elasticities based on a log-linear specification may severely understate the sensitivity of profits to tax in low-tax jurisdictions while simultaneously overstating this elasticity in high-tax jurisdictions. Accounting for this type of nonlinearity appears crucial in considering how the global allocation of firm profits might change in response to tax rate changes.

2010

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January 21, 2016 in Gov't Reports, Scholarship, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, January 15, 2016

GAO:  Only 38% Of Taxpayers Who Called IRS Got Through In 2015 (Down From 74% In 2010); Wait Time Increased From 11 To 31 Minutes

GAO LogoGovernment Accountability Office, Deteriorating Taxpayer Service Underscores Need for a Comprehensive Strategy and Process Efficiencies (GAO-16-151) (Jan 14, 2016):

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provided the lowest level of telephone service during fiscal year 2015 compared to prior years, with only 38 percent of callers who wanted to speak with an IRS assistor able to reach one. This lower level of service occurred despite lower demand from callers seeking live assistance, which has fallen by 6 percent since 2010 to about 51 million callers in 2015. Over the same period, average wait times have almost tripled to over 30 minutes. IRS also struggled to answer correspondence in a timely manner and assistors increasingly either failed to send required correspondence to taxpayers or included inaccurate information in correspondence sent. IRS has taken steps to remind assistors to send correspondence, but does not have adequate controls to ensure that they send accurate correspondence before closing cases. GAO also found that the Department of the Treasury (Treasury) does not include correspondence performance goals in its performance plan, and therefore, does not have a complete set of measures to assess performance. The decline in service has coincided with a 10 percent reduction in IRS's annual appropriations, as well as resource allocation decisions by IRS to meet statutory responsibilities, such as implementing tax law changes and supporting information technology infrastructure.

GAO

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January 15, 2016 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Joint Tax Committee Releases Tax Expenditure Estimates for 2015-2019

Joint Tax CommitteeJoint Committee on Taxation, Estimates of Federal Tax Expenditures for Fiscal Years 2015-2019 (JCX-141-15):

Tax expenditure analysis can help both policymakers and the public to understand the actual size of government, the uses to which government resources are put, and the tax and economic policy consequences that follow from the implicit or explicit choices made in fashioning legislation. This report on tax expenditures for fiscal years 2015-2019 is prepared by the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (“Joint Committee staff”) for the House Committee on Ways and Means and the Senate Committee on Finance. The report also is submitted to the House and Senate Committees on the Budget.

As in the case of earlier reports, the estimates of tax expenditures in this report were prepared in consultation with the staff of the Office of Tax Analysis in the Department of the Treasury (“the Treasury”). The Treasury published its estimates of tax expenditures for fiscal years 2014-2024 in the Administration's budgetary statement of February 2, 2015. The lists of tax expenditures in this Joint Committee staff report and the Administration's budgetary statement overlap considerably; the differences are discussed in Part I of this report under the heading “Comparisons with Treasury.”

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December 9, 2015 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

GAO: IRS Has Awarded $315 Million To Whistleblowers, But Problems Plague Program

GAO LogoGovernment Accountability Office, IRS Whistleblower Program: Billions Collected, but Timeliness and Communication Concerns May Discourage Whistleblowers (GAO-16-20):

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Whistleblower Office (WO) is responsible for processing thousands of tax whistleblower claims annually for two related whistleblower programs: for claims of $2 million or less, the 7623(a) program, and for claims over $2 million, the 7623(b) program. The whistleblower claim review process takes several years to complete, and GAO found that the WO is not using available capabilities to track and monitor key dates in its claim management system. Without available information on key dates related to award review and payments, the WO is unable to assess its performance against timeliness targets and risks unnecessarily delaying award payments.

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December 1, 2015 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

TIGTA: IRS Should Shift Definition Of Rich From $200k to $600k For Audits

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released Improvements Are Needed in Resource Allocation and Management Controls for Audits of High-Income Taxpayers (2015-30-078):

Given the IRS’s goal of providing higher audit coverage to high-income taxpayers and its reduced operating budget, it is that much more important that the IRS selects audits that have the highest compliance impact.  However, it is not clear that the IRS audits the most productive high-income taxpayer cases or that it has a clear rationale for the inventory balance it has established among taxpayers at different TPI levels.

We conducted an analysis on Fiscal Year 2014 audit closures of high-income taxpayers comparing the number of audits to the number of tax returns filed in Calendar Year 2013 to evaluate the IRS’s audit coverage and audit productivity in the various TPI ranges.  Figure 5 shows that the IRS is providing increased audit coverage as a percentage of each TPI range as the high-income taxpayers’ TPIs increase.

Figure 5

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November 24, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

GAO: IRS Lacks Adequate Internal Controls

GAO LogoGovernment Accountability Office, IRS's Fiscal Years 2015 and 2014 Financial Statements (GAO-16-146):

In GAO’s opinion, the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) fiscal years 2015 and 2014 financial statements are fairly presented in all material respects. However, in GAO’s opinion, IRS did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2015, because of a continuing material weakness in internal control over unpaid tax assessments. GAO’s tests of IRS’s compliance with selected provisions of applicable laws, regulations, contracts, and grant agreements detected no reportable instances of noncompliance in fiscal year 2015.

The material weakness in internal control over unpaid tax assessments was primarily caused by financial system limitations and errors in taxpayer accounts that rendered IRS’s systems unable to readily distinguish between taxes receivable, compliance assessments, and write-offs in order to properly classify these components for financial reporting purposes. These deficiencies necessitated the use of a compensating estimation process to determine the amount of taxes receivable, the most material asset on IRS’s balance sheet. Through this compensating process, IRS made over $9 billion in adjustments to the 2015 fiscal year-end gross taxes receivable balance produced by its financial systems. To address this material weakness, in fiscal year 2015, IRS took a significant step in developing a long-term corrective action plan. However, the plan does not include milestones or related dates for most of the actions, so it is unclear when IRS will fully address the issues that cause significant inaccuracies in the unpaid tax assessments information maintained in its accounting systems.

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November 17, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Saturday, October 3, 2015

TIGTA: IRS Improperly Withheld Information From Taxpayer FOIA Requests 12% Of The Time

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released Fiscal Year 2015 Statutory Review of Compliance With the Freedom of Information Act (2015-30-084):

TIGTA is required to conduct periodic audits to determine whether the IRS properly denied written requests for taxpayer information pursuant to FOIA § 552(b)(7) and I.R.C. § 6103. The overall objectives of this audit were to determine whether the IRS improperly withheld information requested by taxpayers in writing, based on FOIA exemption (b)(3), in conjunction with I.R.C. § 6103, and/or FOIA exemption (b)(7) or by replying that responsive records were not available. Specifically, this included determining whether the IRS had adequate and effective policies and procedures to ensure that all of these requests were processed timely and that information was not improperly withheld. In addition, TIGTA determined whether IRS disclosure officers erroneously disclosed sensitive taxpayer information when responding to written FOIA, Privacy Act, or I.R.C. § 6103 information requests.

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October 3, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

TIGTA: IRS Could Not Verify 40% Of $15 Billion Of Affordable Care Act Tax Credits Due To Lack Of Data From Health Insurance Exchanges

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released Affordable Care Act: Interim Results of the Internal Revenue Service Verification of Premium Tax Credit Claims (2015-43-057):

The Affordable Care Act created the refundable Premium Tax Credit (PTC) to assist eligible taxpayers with paying their health insurance premiums. Individuals may elect to have the PTC paid directly to their health insurance provider as partial payment for their monthly premiums (referred to as the Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC)) or receive the PTC as a lump sum credit on their annual Federal income tax return. According to the IRS, almost $11 billion in APTCs was paid to insurers in Fiscal Year 2014.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 requires a report no later than June 1, 2015, on the IRS’s reconciliation of APTCs paid to taxpayers and the Department of Health and Human Services use of IRS information to reduce fraud and overpayments. The objective of this review was to provide selected information related to the processing of PTC claims during the 2015 Filing Season. TIGTA plans to issue the final results of its analysis later in Calendar Year 2015.

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September 1, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

CRS: The Federal Tax Treatment Of Married Same-Sex Couples

CRS LogoCongressional Research Service, The Federal Tax Treatment of Married Same-Sex Couples (R43157) (July 30, 2015):

This report provides an overview of the federal tax treatment of same-sex married couples, with a focus on the federal income tax. Estate tax issues are also discussed. The administration of federal tax laws for married same-sex couples changed as a result of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in United States v. Windsor in 2013, striking down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act. The administration of federal tax laws was not affected by the June 26, 2015, ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges. Obergefell struck down state bans on same-sex marriage, holding that all states must both permit same-sex couples to marry in their states and recognize same-sex marriages that were formed in other states. While it did not change the administration of federal income tax laws, the Obergefell decision may affect the number of same-sex couples who decide to marry (and hence the number of federal and state tax returns filed by married couples). Analysis of changes to individuals’ state tax liabilities resulting from the Obergefell decision is beyond the scope of this report; however, state tax changes may ultimately affect federal tax liabilities for those couples who itemize deductions on their federal returns.

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August 11, 2015 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Senate Releases Summaries of Tax Extenders Bill; Joint Tax Committee's Dynamic Scoring Says Bill Will Cover 11% Of Its Costs

The Senate Finance Committee yesterday released updated summaries (here and here) of the committee-passed tax extenders legislation (S. 1946). In connection with the bill, the Joint Committee on Taxation released A Report To The Congressional Budget Office Of The Macroeconomic Effects Of The “Tax Relief Extension Act Of 2015”.

Bloomberg, Tax Cut Pays Part of Its Way in Test of Republican Scoring:

A bipartisan U.S. Senate bill that would revive and extend dozens of lapsed tax breaks would spur economic growth and cover about 11 percent of its own costs, according to Congress’s nonpartisan scorekeeper.

The analysis released Tuesday is an early test of Republicans’ focus on what’s known as dynamic scoring. It refers to the principle that legislation can be significant enough to change the size of the economy and affect the U.S. budget.

Republicans say that’s a more accurate way to study bills, and they’ve changed budget rules to include the analyses. Democrats are dubious, citing the uncertainty of projections.

Jared Bernstein (Center on Budget and Policy Priorities), Dynamic Scoring in Action: Unwarranted Certainty:

Jared

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August 6, 2015 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, July 6, 2015

The IRS Scandal, Day 788

TIGTATreasury Inspector General for Tax Administration Report of Investigation, Exempt Organization Data Loss and Potential Obstruction of Justice:

The investigation determined that there were six possible sources to examine in order to potentially recover the missing e-mails. These sources were LERNER's crashed hard drive, the backup or disaster recovery tapes, a decommissioned Microsoft (MS) Exchange 2003 e-mail server, the backup tapes for the decommissioned e-mail server, LERNER's BlackBerry, and loaner laptop computers that may have been assigned to her while her laptop was being repaired. An examination of four of these sources, the backup or disaster recovery tapes, the decommissioned Exchange 2003 e-mail server, LERNER's BlackBerry, and the loaner laptops produced e-mail that the IRS had not previously produced to Congress, DOJ or TIGTA. The investigation also determined that once it was discovered that there was a gap in the IRS' production of LERNER's e-mail, the IRS did not fully identify as a source or perform recovery attempts for e-mail on the following electronic media, all of which the IRS had in their possession: backup or disaster recovery tapes, the decommissioned Exchange 2003 e-mail server, the backup tapes for the decommissioned e-mail server or the loaner laptop computers.  ...

The investigation also revealed that on or about March 4, 2014, one month after the IRS realized it was missing some of LERNER's e-mails, IRS employees in the IRS Enterprise Computing Center in Martinsburg, West Virginia (Martinsburg), magnetically erased 422 backup tapes that are believed to have contained LERNER's e-mails that were responsive to Congressional demands and subpoenas. However, the investigation did not uncover evidence that the IRS and its employees purposely erased the tapes in order to conceal responsive e-mails from the Congress, the DOJ and TIGTA. 

The investigation revealed that the backup tapes were destroyed as a result of IRS management failing to ensure that a May 22, 2013, e-mail directive from the IRS Chief Technology Officer (CTO) concerning the preservation of electronic e-mail media was fully understood and followed by all of the IRS employees responsible for handling and disposing of e-mail bStephen MANNING, former IRS Deputy Chief Information Officer, Strategy and Modernization.ackup media.  ...

When interviewed, [Terence MILHOLLAND, IRS Chief Technology Office] was asked if he knew that e-mail backup tapes from a decommissioned e-mail server had been degaussed in March 2014, MILHOLLAND stated that he was not aware of this, and he advised that he was "blown away" at the revelation. He further stated that IRS IT senior management was ultimately responsible. MILHOLLAND also stated that his May 2013 e-mail directive would have applied to preserving the NCFB backup tapes and that the organization that sent them to be destroyed would also be responsible for their destruction.

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July 6, 2015 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, IRS News, IRS Scandal, Tax | Permalink | Comments (4)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

TIGTA: IRS Violated Federal Law By Awarding Millions In Contracts To Businesses With Unpaid Federal Taxes

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released Existing Procurement Practices Allowed Corporations With Federal Tax Debt to Obtain Contract Awards (2015-10-011):

Beginning with Fiscal Year (FY) 2012, Federal law has prohibited the IRS from using appropriated funds to enter into a contract with a corporation that has certain Federal tax debt and/or felony convictions.  ...

The IRS did not have effective controls in place to prevent the award of contracts to corporations with certain Federal tax debt and/or felony convictions.  TIGTA identified 17 corporations that were awarded a total of 57 contracts valued at about $18.8 million (including nearly $18 million for contract modifications)during FYs 2012 and 2013, while they had Federal tax debt.  The IRS has not established a definition of Federal tax debt for this purpose and does not perform proactive tax checks to comply with this Federal law.

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June 24, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, June 18, 2015

TIGTA: IRS Budget Cuts Had Minimal Impact On Tax Collections

Washington Examiner, Watchdog: IRS Cuts Had Minimal Impact on Tax Collections:

The government watchdog released a report Wednesday indicating that the ability of the IRS to collect taxes hasn't been hurt too dramatically by sharp budget cuts the agency has seen since 2010.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration's report said tax collection has softened somewhat, but data in the report shows that revenues haven't fallen that far in some cases, and that some revenues have increased over the last few years. ...

[T]he report showed that ACS collections were $3.2 billion in 2010, when there were 2,817 ACS workers, and $3.1 billion in 2014, when there were 2,234 ACS workers. The report admitted that's "slightly less" in collections after a more than 20 percent cut to the workforce. While collections fell to $2.8 billion in 2012, collections have actually been rising since then, and have been nearly flat over the entire period, even as the number of workers have fallen.

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June 18, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

TIGTA: IRS Can’t Verify Qualifications For Obamacare Subsidies

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Affordable Care Act: Assessment of Internal Revenue Service Preparation for Processing Premium Tax Credit Claims (2015-43-043):

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act created a refundable tax credit, referred to as the Premium Tax Credit (PTC), to assist individuals with the cost of their health insurance premiums. Individuals may elect to receive the PTC in advance as partial payment for their monthly premiums (referred to as the Advance Premium Tax Credit (APTC)) or receive the PTC as a lump sum credit on their annual Federal income tax return. Beginning in January 2015, individuals are required to reconcile the APTC and can claim additional PTC on their annual tax return beginning with Tax Year 2014. ...

The overall objective of this review was to assess the status of the IRS’s preparations for verifying the accuracy of PTC claims during the 2015 Filing Season. ...

In response to the delays in receiving required Exchange Periodic Data submissions, the IRS developed contingency plans in an effort to improve its ability to ensure the accuracy of PTC claims.  However, without the required enrollment data from the Exchanges, the IRS will be unable to ensure that all taxpayers claiming the PTC bought insurance through an Exchange as required.

June 10, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, June 8, 2015

Joint Tax Committee Releases IRS Disclosures of Tax Return Information, 2014

Joint Tax CommitteeThe Joint Committee on Taxation has released Disclosure Report for Public Inspection Pursuant to Internal Revenue Code Section 6103(p)(3)(C) for Calendar Year 2014 (JCX-89-15):

Section 6103(p)(3)(C) provides that the Secretary of the Treasury shall, within 90 days after the close of each calendar year, furnish to the Joint Committee on Taxation for disclosure to the public a report which provides, with respect to each Federal agency and certain other entities, the number of: (1) requests for disclosure of returns and return information (as such terms are defined in § 6103(b)); (2) instances in which returns and return information were disclosed pursuant to such requests or otherwise; and (3) taxpayers whose returns, or return information with respect to whom, were disclosed pursuant to such requests. In addition, the report must describe the general purposes for which such requests were made.

Pursuant to § 6103(p)(3)(C), the IRS prepared a disclosure report for public inspection covering calendar year 2014. ... This document sets forth the report of the IRS, verbatim.

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June 8, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

TIGTA: IRS Allowed $5.6 Billion In Erroneous Education Tax Credits

TIGTAThe Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Billions of Dollars in Potentially Erroneous Education Credits Continue to Be Claimed for Ineligible Students and Institutions (2015-40-027):

The IRS still does not have effective processes to identify erroneous claims for education credits.  Although the IRS has taken steps to address some of our recommendations, many of the deficiencies TIGTA previously identified still exist.  As a result, taxpayers continue to receive billions of dollars in potentially erroneous education credits.  Based on our analysis of education credits claimed and received on Tax Year 2012 tax returns, TIGTA estimates that more than 3.6 million taxpayers (claiming more than 3.8 million students) received more than $5.6 billion in potentially erroneous education credits ($2.5 billion in refundable credits and $3.1 billion in nonrefundable credits).  Specifically, TIGTA estimates:

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May 6, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

GAO: Improper Government Payments Increased 18% in 2014, to $125 Billion; EITC's 27% Error Rate Is Highest of Any Program

GAOGovernment Accountability Office, Government-Wide Estimates and Use of Death Data to Help Prevent Payments to Deceased Individuals (GAO-15-482T):

Government-wide, improper payment estimates totaled $124.7 billion in fiscal year 2014, a significant increase of approximately $19 billion from the prior year’s estimate of $105.8 billion. The estimated improper payments for fiscal year 2014 were attributable to 124 programs spread among 22 agencies.

The increase in the 2014 estimate is attributed primarily to increased error rates in three major programs: the Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) Medicare Fee-for-Service and Medicaid programs, and the Department of the Treasury’s Earned Income Tax Credit program. These three programs accounted for $80.9 billion in improper payment estimates, or approximately 65 percent of the government-wide total for fiscal year 2014. Further, the increases in improper payment estimates for these three programs were approximately $16 billion, or 85 percent of the increase in the government-wide improper payment estimate for fiscal year 2014.

The EITC's 27.2% error rate is far greater than any of the listed government programs.

EITC

March 18, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, March 2, 2015

Joint Tax Committee: The Top 1% Receives 19% Of All Income, Pays 49% Of All Income Taxes

Joint Tax CommitteeThe Joint Committee on Taxation has released Fairness and Tax Policy (JCX-48-15):

The Senate Committee on Finance has scheduled a public hearing on March 3, 2015, titled “Fairness in Taxation.” This document ... describes concepts of tax equity and provides data related to the current and historical distribution of income and taxes. ...

For 2015, the top 10 percent (in terms of income) of all tax returns receive 45 percent of all income and pay 82 percent of all income taxes. The top five percent of all tax returns receive 34 percent of all income and pay 71 percent of all income taxes. The top one percent of all tax returns receives 19 percent of all income and pay 49 percent of all income taxes. 

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March 2, 2015 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (14)

Friday, February 6, 2015

TIGTA: IRS Rehired Hundreds of Former Employees With Performance Issues, Including Failing to File Tax Returns

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released  Additional Consideration of Prior Conduct and Performance Issues Is Needed When Hiring Former Employees (2015-10-006):

Between January 2010 and September 2013, IRS records show that the IRS hired more than 7,000 former employees (78 percent were temporary or seasonal positions). Most rehired employees do not have performance or conduct issues associated with prior IRS employment. However, TIGTA found that the IRS did hire hundreds of former employees with these types of issues. TIGTA reviewed a random sample from more than 300 employees with significant prior performance or conduct issues who were hired between January 2010 and July 2013 and determined that the IRS appropriately applied OPM suitability standards (e.g., determining whether applicants had prior criminal activity, material false statements, or illegal drug use).  

However, TIGTA identified hundreds of former employees who were hired with prior substantiated conduct or performance issues.  For example, 141 former employees with prior substantiated tax issues, including five who the IRS found had willfully failed to file their Federal tax returns, were hired.  Other substantiated issues from previous IRS employment included unauthorized access to taxpayer information, leave abuse, falsification of official forms, unacceptable performance, misuse of IRS property, and off-duty misconduct.

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February 6, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Monday, January 12, 2015

TIGTA: IRS Made $14.5 Billion in Erroneous of EITC Payments in 2013, a 24% Error Rate

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released The Internal Revenue Service Is Working Toward Compliance With Executive Order 13520 Reporting Requirements (2015-40-009):

Although the IRS has reported an overall decline in the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) improper payment rate since Fiscal Year 2003, the amount of payments made in error has increased from $10.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2003 to $14.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2013. The IRS’s Fiscal Year 2013 EITC improper payment report to TIGTA estimates that in Fiscal Year 2013, EITC claims totaled approximately $60 billion and that 24 percent of the EITC payments were paid in error.

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January 12, 2015 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Thursday, December 18, 2014

GAO: IRS Needs to Strengthen its Oversight of Charities

GAOGovernment Accountability Office, Better Compliance Indicators and Data, and More Collaboration with State Regulators Would Strengthen Oversight of Charitable Organizations (GAO-15-164):

IRS oversight of charitable organizations helps to ensure they abide by the purposes that justify their tax exemption and protects the sector from potential abuses and loss of confidence by the donor community. In recent years, reductions in IRS's budget have raised concerns about the adequacy of IRS oversight.

GAO was asked to review IRS oversight of charitable organizations. In this report, GAO (1) describes the charitable organization sector, (2) describes IRS oversight activities, (3) determines how IRS assesses its oversight efforts, and (4) determines how IRS collaborates with state charity regulators and U.S. Attorneys to identify and prosecute organizations suspected of engaging in fraudulent (or other criminal) activity.

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December 18, 2014 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

GAO: IRS's 24% Error Rate in Making $14 Billion/Year of Improper EITC Payments Is 2d Worst Among All Federal Programs, Violates Law

GAOGovernment Accountability Office, Improper Payments: Inspector General Reporting of Agency Compliance under the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (Dec. 9, 2014):

Improper payments—such as duplicate or erroneous payments, payments to ineligible recipients, or payments for ineligible services—have been a long-standing challenge of the federal government and have annually totaled billions of dollars. For fiscal year 2013, federal agencies reported an estimated $105.8 billion in improper payments, a decrease of $1.3 billion from the prior year revised estimate of $107.1 billion. Based on our review of Office of Management and Budget (OMB) data, the $105.8 billion estimate was attributable to 84 programs across 18 agencies (see enc. I). Fiscal year 2013 marked the 10th year of implementation of the Improper Payments Information Act of 2002 (IPIA), Five programs accounted for approximately $82.9 billion, or 78 percent of the total improper payments estimate in fiscal year 2013 (see enc. II for a list of the five programs with the largest estimates for fiscal years 2011 through 2013).

EITC

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December 10, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

TIGTA: IRS Has 25-30% Error Rate In Refundable Child Tax Credits, Mistakenly Pays $6-7 Billion

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Existing Compliance Processes Will Not Reduce the Billions of Dollars in Improper Earned Income Tax Credit and Additional Child Tax Credit Payments (2014-40-093):

The Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC) are refundable credits designed to help low-income individuals reduce their tax burden. The IRS estimated that it paid $63 billion in refundable EITCs and $26.6 billion in refundable ACTCs for Tax Year 2012. The IRS also estimated that 24 percent of all EITC payments made in Fiscal Year 2013, or $14.5 billion, were paid in error. ...

The IRS has continually rated the risk of improper ACTC payments as low. However, TIGTA’s assessment of the potential for ACTC improper payments indicates the ACTC improper payment rate is similar to that of the EITC. Using IRS data, TIGTA estimates the potential ACTC improper payment rate for Fiscal Year 2013 is between 25.2 percent and 30.5 percent, with potential ACTC improper payments totaling between $5.9 billion and $7.1 billion. In addition, IRS enforcement data show the root causes of improper ACTC payments are similar to those of the EITC.

New York Times, Billions in Child Tax Credits Were Invalid, U.S. Audit Finds

December 10, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (3)

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Sen. Coburn Releases 300-Page Tax Decoder


Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) today released Tax  Decoder:

This report, Tax Decoder, is intended to decode the tax code for every taxpayer. It reveals more than 165 tax expenditures costing over $900 billion this year and more than $5 trillion over the next five years.

It is nearly impossible to know who is benefiting from the tax code because it lacks any real transparency or accountability. This is not unintentional. The Senate Finance Committee recently rejected an amendment that would have required the recipients of some tax credits to be publicly listed in the USAspending.gov website.10 The recipients of these tax breaks know who they are, so it seems reasonable for those who are paying the taxes to provide the benefits should know as well. 

Tax Decoder attempts to provide a detailed and comprehensive overview of the code for all taxpayers. It includes the background, cost, and primary beneficiaries of each provision along with specific examples of some of the recipients of certain tax breaks. It covers well known tax provisions as well as others that are more obscure. ...

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December 9, 2014 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 4, 2014

CRS: Federal Proposals to Tax Marijuana

CRS LogoCongressional Research Service:  Federal Proposals to Tax Marijuana: An Economic Analysis, by Jane G. Gravelle & Sean Lowry (R43785) (Nov. 13, 2014):

The combination of state policy and general public opinion favoring the legalizing of marijuana has led some in Congress to advocate for legalization and taxation of marijuana at the federal level. The Marijuana Tax Equity Act of 2013 (H.R. 501) would impose a federal excise tax of 50% on the producer and importer price of marijuana. The National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy Act of 2013 (H.R. 1635) proposes establishing a National Commission on Federal Marijuana Policy that would review the potential revenue generated by taxing marijuana, among other things.

This report focuses solely on issues surrounding a potential federal marijuana tax. First, it provides a brief overview of marijuana production. Second, it presents possible justifications for taxes and, in some cases, estimates the level of tax suggested by that rationale. Third, it analyzes possible marijuana tax designs. The report also discusses various tax administration and enforcement issues, such as labeling and tracking.

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December 4, 2014 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 21, 2014

CBO: Options for Reducing the Deficit, 2015 to 2024

Congressional Budget Office, Options for Reducing the Deficit: 2015 to 2024:

This document provides estimates of the budgetary savings from 79 options that would decrease federal spending or increase federal revenues over the next decade. 

36 of these 79 options are tax increases:

Individual Income Tax Rates
1.  Increase Individual Income Tax Rates
2.  Implement a New Minimum Tax on Adjusted Gross Income
3.  Raise the Tax Rates on Long-Term Capital Gains and Dividends by 2 Percentage Points

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November 21, 2014 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 20, 2014

GAO Report on 'Supersize' IRAs

Super Size MeFollowing up on my previous posts:

GAO, IRS Could Bolster Enforcement on Multimillion Dollar Accounts, but More Direction from Congress Is Needed (GAO-15-16):

For tax year 2011 (the most recent year available), an estimated 43 million taxpayers had individual retirement accounts (IRA) with a total reported fair market value (FMV) of $5.2 trillion. As shown in the table below, few taxpayers had aggregated balances exceeding $5 million as of 2011. Generally, taxpayers with IRA balances greater than $5 million tend to have adjusted gross incomes greater than $200,000, be joint filers, and are age 65 or older. Large individual and employer contributions sustained over decades and rolled over from an employer plan would be necessary to accumulate an IRA balance of more than $5 million. There is no total statutory limit on IRA accumulations or rollovers from employer defined contribution plans.

Estimated Taxpayers with Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) by Size of IRA Balance, Tax Year 2011

Estimated Taxpayers with Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA) by Size of IRA Balance, Tax Year 2011

A small number of taxpayers has accumulated larger IRA balances, likely by investing in assets unavailable to most investors—initially valued very low and offering disproportionately high potential investment returns if successful. Individuals who invest in these assets using certain types of IRAs can escape taxation on investment gains. For example, founders of companies who use IRAs to invest in nonpublicly traded shares of their newly formed companies can realize many millions of dollars in tax-favored gains on their investment if the company is successful. With no total limit on IRA accumulations, the government forgoes millions in tax revenue. The accumulation of these large IRA balances by a small number of investors stands in contrast to Congress's aim to prevent the tax-favored accumulation of balances exceeding what is needed for retirement.

(Hat Tip: Greg McNeal.)

November 20, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 13, 2014

GAO: IRS Lacks Adequate Internal Controls

GAOGovernment Accountability Office, IRS's Fiscal Years 2014 and 2013 Financial Statements (GAO-15-173):

In GAO's opinion, the Internal Revenue Service's (IRS) fiscal years 2014 and 2013 financial statements are fairly presented in all material respects. However, in GAO's opinion, IRS did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2014, because of a continuing material weakness in internal control over unpaid tax assessments. ...

During fiscal year 2014, IRS continued to make important progress in addressing deficiencies in internal control over its financial reporting systems. However, GAO identified new and continuing deficiencies in internal control over information security, including missing security updates, insufficient monitoring of financial reporting systems and mainframe security, and ineffective maintenance of key application security, that constituted a significant deficiency in IRS's internal control over financial reporting systems. Until IRS fully addresses existing control deficiencies over its financial reporting systems, there is an increased risk that its financial and taxpayer data will remain vulnerable to inappropriate and undetected use, modification, or disclosure.

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November 13, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, November 6, 2014

TIGTA: Inadequate Inventory Controls Over Employee Mobile Devices Cost IRS Millions

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Wireless Telecommunication Device Inventory Control Weaknesses Resulted in Inaccurate Inventory Records and Unsupported Service Fees (2014-10-075):

In Fiscal Year 2013, the IRS spent more than $13.7 million on wireless telecommunication devices and maintained an inventory of more than 49,000 devices reported as being in use. Effective controls over the assignment of and inventory accounting for these devices is important to ensure proper stewardship of Government funds.

TIGTA’s previous work found that IRS processes for assigning and monitoring the use of devices were not adequate to ensure that employees have a business need for the devices. In addition, prior work found that the IRS paid for thousands of devices that were unused. The overall objective of this review was to assess the efficiency and effectiveness of the IRS’s inventory control for wireless aircards, cellular phones, and BlackBerry® smartphone devices.

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November 6, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, October 23, 2014

TIGTA: IRS Fails to Follow TEFRA Procedures in 63% of Partnership Audits

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Improvements Are Needed to Ensure That Procedures Are Followed During Partnership Audits Subject to the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (2014-30-082):

This audit was initiated to determine whether audits of partnerships subject to the TEFRA are initiated in accordance with applicable statutory and administrative procedures. ... TIGTA reviewed a statistically valid sample of 35 partnership audits subject to the TEFRA that were closed during Fiscal Year 2012 and identified 22 audits that were not conducted in accordance with one or more applicable TEFRA procedures. Specifically, TIGTA found that: (1) minimum tests were not always documented to determine whether TEFRA procedures should have been used to examine the partnership return; (2) necessary checks were not always documented to ensure that the Tax Matters Partner was qualified to represent the partnership; (3) some Forms 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, did not contain the required information that allows disclosure of tax return information; and (4) some Letters 1787, Notice of Beginning of Administrative Proceeding, were not issued timely. When the sample results are projected to the population of 2,698 TEFRA audits closed during Fiscal Year 2012, TIGTA estimates that approximately 1,696 TEFRA audits were not conducted in accordance with one or more applicable TEFRA procedures.

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October 23, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, October 20, 2014

TIGTA: IRS Is Not Complying With Homeland Security Laws on Information Security Management and Employee ID Cards

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released:

Federal Information Security Management Act Report for Fiscal Year 2014 (2014-20-090):

The Federal Information Security Management Act of 2002 (FISMA) was enacted to strengthen the security of information and systems within Federal Government agencies. The IRS collects and maintains a significant amount of personal and financial information on each taxpayer. As custodians of taxpayer information, the IRS has an obligation to protect the confidentiality of this sensitive information against unauthorized access or loss.

As part of the FISMA legislation, the Offices of Inspectors General are required to perform an annual independent evaluation of each Federal agency’s information security programs and practices. This report presents the results of TIGTA’s FISMA evaluation of the IRS for Fiscal Year 2014.

Based on this year’s FISMA evaluation, five of the 11 security program areas met the performance metrics specified by the Department of Homeland Security’s Fiscal Year 2014 Inspector General Federal Information Security Management Act Reporting Metrics. ... Four security program areas were not fully effective due to one or more program attributes that were not met. ... Two security program areas did not meet the level of performance specified due to the majority of the attributes not being met.

Progress Has Been Made; However, Significant Work Re mains to Achieve Full Implementation of Homeland Security Presidential Directive 1 (2014-20-069):

Issued in August 2004, the Homeland Security Presidential Directive 12 (HSPD-12), Policy for a Common Identification Standard for Federal Employees and Contractors, requires Federal agencies to issue identity credentials that meet the HSPD-12 standard and use them for gaining physical access to Federally controlled facilities and logical access to Federally controlled information systems.  Without full implementation of HSPD-12 compliant authentication, IRS facilities, networks, and information systems are at an increased risk of unauthorized access.

This audit was initiated to determine the IRS’s progress in implementing HSPD-12 requirements for accessing IRS facilities and information systems.  The U.S. Department of the Treasury has set a goal for its bureaus to achieve 100-percent HSPD-12 compliance by Fiscal Year 2015.  In Fiscal Year 2012, the Administration identified HSPD-12 as a Cross-Agency Priority initiative needed to improve the security of Federal data.

The majority of the IRS workforce (85%) has been issued HSPD-12 compliant Personal Identity Verification (PIV) cards.  However, full implementation of PIV card electronic authentication for accessing IRS facilities is not scheduled until at least Fiscal Year 2018, and only if funding is available.  In addition, significant challenges remain in the area of implementing PIV card electronic authentication for accessing IRS networks and information systems.  These challenges include many legacy systems and technologies in use at the IRS that are incompatible with PIV cards, and limited HSPD-12 staffing and funding for resolving these conflicts.

October 20, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Monday, October 13, 2014

Congress, GAO Target ‘Supersize’ IRAs

Super Size MeFollowing up on my previous posts:

Wall Street Journal Tax Report:  Washington Scrutiny of ‘Supersize’ IRAs, by Laura Saunders:

Washington is taking a hard look at tax-sheltered retirement accounts, especially “supersize” ones worth millions of dollars. Savers should consider what it could mean for them.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office, an arm of Congress, recently released a report on individual retirement accounts, requested by Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D., Ore.). Its publication coincided with Senate hearings on retirement savings held last month.

The GAO study addressed questions many people asked after disclosures that former presidential candidate Mitt Romney had a traditional IRA worth as much as $101 million and technology entrepreneur Max Levchin put more than 13.3 million shares of Yelp YELP -5.11% stock in a Roth IRA before the firm went public in 2012.

How many supersize IRAs are there? The GAO estimates more than 300 individuals or families have IRAs with balances greater than $25 million, while more than 9,000 have IRAs worth more than $5 million. The GAO wasn’t able to distinguish between regular and Roth IRAs, given the data. ...

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October 13, 2014 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

TIGTA: IRS Does Not Adequately Research 57% of Cases, Losing Billions in Taxes Wrongly Labeled Uncollectible

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Delinquent Taxes May Not Be Collected Because Required Research Was Not Always Completed Prior to Closing Some Cases As Currently Not Collectible (2014-30-052):

If an IRS employee is unable to contact or unable to locate (UTC/UTL) a delinquent taxpayer, the collection case may be closed as currently not collectible (CNC). If all of the required research steps are not taken prior to the case closure, there is a risk that the Government’s interest may not be protected and that taxpayers will not be treated equitably.

In Fiscal Year 2012, the IRS closed 482,611 tax modules involving approximately $6.7 billion as CNC–UTC/UTL.  This audit was initiated to determine whether these cases were adequately researched, documented, and approved to ensure that all actions were taken to collect outstanding taxpayer liabilities.

Required case actions were not always completed before closing cases as CNC–UTC/UTL.  Of a stratified sample of 250 cases reviewed, there was no evidence that employees completed all of the required research steps for 57 percent of the cases prior to their closing.  Moreover, 7 percent of the cases did not have a Notice of Federal Tax Lien (NFTL) filed on all delinquent tax periods as required. Collection Field function (Field) employees did not complete all research in 165 of the 204 Field cases, while Automated Collection System function employees did not complete all research in eight of the 38 Automated Collection System cases

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September 30, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, September 19, 2014

GAO: The IRS Needs to Ramp Up Audits of Large Partnerships

GAOGovernment Accountability Office, With Growing Number of Partnerships, IRS Needs to Improve Audit Efficiency (GAO-14-732):

The number of large partnerships has more than tripled to 10,099 from tax year 2002 to 2011. Almost two-thirds of large partnerships had more than 1,000 direct and indirect partners, had six or more tiers and/or self reported being in the finance and insurance sector, with many being investment funds.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits few large partnerships. Most audits resulted in no change to the partnership’s return and the aggregate change was small. Although internal control standards call for information about effective resource use, IRS has not defined what constitutes a large partnership and does not have codes to track these audits. According to IRS auditors, the audit results may be due to challenges such as finding the sources of income within multiple tiers while meeting the administrative tasks required by the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982 (TEFRA) within specified time frames. For example, IRS auditors said that it can sometimes take months to identify the partner that represents the partnership in the audit, reducing time available to conduct the audit. TEFRA does not require large partnerships to identify this partner on tax returns. Also under TEFRA, unless the partnership elects to be taxed at the entity level (which few do), IRS must pass audit adjustments through to the ultimate partners. IRS officials stated that the process of determining each partner’s share of the adjustment is paper and labor intensive. When hundreds of partners’ returns have to be adjusted, the costs involved limit the number of audits IRS can conduct. Adjusting the partnership return instead of the partners’ returns would reduce these costs but, without legislative action, IRS’s ability to do so is limited. 

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GAO 5

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September 19, 2014 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Romney-Sized IRAs Get Scrutiny as Government Studies Tax Breaks

Bloomberg:  Romney-Sized IRAs Get Scrutiny as Government Studies Tax Breaks, by Richard Rubin:

About 9,000 U.S. taxpayers have each accumulated at least $5 million in individual retirement accounts, said the Government Accountability Office, raising questions about some investors’ tax-advantaged returns.

The preliminary report attaches data to an issue that drew attention during the 2012 presidential campaign, when Republican nominee Mitt Romney reported an IRA worth $20 million to $102 million. ...

Today’s GAO report said someone who contributed the maximum amount each year to an IRA from 1975 to 2011 and invested it in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index would have about $350,000. The maximum contribution this year is $5,500, plus an extra $1,000 for people age 50 and older.

GAO, Preliminary Information on IRA Balances Accumulated as of 2011 (Sept. 16, 2014):

For tax year 2011 (the most recent year available), an estimated 43 million taxpayers had individual retirement accounts (IRA) with total reported fair market value of $5.2 trillion. About 99 percent of those taxpayers had aggregate IRA balances (including inherited IRAs) of $1 million or less. As shown in the table below, few taxpayers had aggregated balances exceeding $5 million as of 2011. Generally, taxpayers with IRA balances of $5 million or more tend to have higher adjusted gross incomes, be joint filers, and 65 or more years old. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) statistical data GAO analyzed may not provide a precise estimate of the number of taxpayers or other quantities when the number of taxpayers in a particular reporting group is very small. Even assuming maximum contributions sustained over decades and rolled over from an employer plan, it would take an aggressive stock market investment strategy to accumulate an IRA balance over $5 million. There is no total statutory limit on IRA accumulations or rollovers from employer defined contribution plans. An individual who made the maximum contributions every year since 1975 to a traditional IRA could have accumulated about $303,420 achieving investment returns equal to the average annual Social Security interest rates.

Estimated Taxpayers with IRA by Size of IRA Balance, Tax Year 2011

Number of taxpayers

Total IRA fair market value balances($ Billions)

IRA Balance

Estimate

95% confidence

interval

Estimate

95% confidence

interval

$1 million or less

42,382,192

42,094,009

42,670,375

$4,092

$4,038

$4,147

> $1to $2 million

502,392

470,897

533,887

674

632

717

> $2 to $3 million

83,529

72,632

94,426

198

173

224

> $3 to $5 million

36,171

30,811

41,531

133

114

153

> $5 to $10 million

7,952

6,120

9,783

52

40

64

> $10 to $25 million

791

596

985

11

8

13

> $25 million

314

115

650

81

8

225

September 16, 2014 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

CBO: An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook

Congressional Budget Office, An Update to the Budget and Economic Outlook (Aug. 2014):

Figure 1-1

 

August 27, 2014 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, August 22, 2014

Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S.: 2000 to 2011

Census Bureau, Distribution of Household Wealth in the U.S.: 2000 to 2011:

Median household net worth decreased by $5,046, or 6.8 percent, between 2000 and 2011. ... Between 2000 and 2011, experiences of households varied widely depending on their net worth quintile (See Figure 1). Median household net worth decreased by $5,124 for households in the first (bottom) net worth quintile, $7,056 (or 49.3 percent) for the second quintile, and $5,072 (or 6.9 percent) for the third quintile. Median household net worth increased by $18,433 (or 9.8 percent) for households in the fourth quintile, and by $61,379 (or 10.8 percent) for households in the highest (top) quintile.

Census Bureau

(Hat Tip: Bruce Bartlett.)

August 22, 2014 in Gov't Reports, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TIGTA: ObamaCare Medical Device Tax Is Raising 25% Less Revenue Than Expected, IRS Administration of Tax Is Rife With Errors

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released The Affordable Care Act: An Improved Strategy Is Needed to Ensure Accurate Reporting and Payment of the Medical Device Excise Tax (2014-43-043):

The Affordable Care Act includes a tax provision that provides for an excise tax equal to 2.3 percent of the sales price for medical devices sold beginning January 1, 2013. Manufacturers, producers, and importers are responsible for collecting the medical device excise tax and must file a Form 720, Quarterly Federal Excise Tax Return. The Joint Committee on Taxation estimated revenues from the medical device excise tax of $20 billion for Fiscal Years 2013 through 2019. ...

Our review found that both the number of Forms 720 filed reporting the medical device excise tax and the amount of the associated revenue reported are lower than estimated. The IRS is attempting to develop a compliance strategy to ensure that businesses are compliant with medical device excise tax filing and payment requirements and has taken several measures to advise medical device manufacturers of the new excise tax. However, the IRS cannot identify the population of medical device manufacturers registered with the Food and Drug Administration that are required to file a Form 720 and pay the excise tax.

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August 19, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

TIGTA: IRS Puts Confidential Taxpayer Information at Risk By Giving It to Contractors Without Required Background Checks

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released Some Contractor Personnel Without Background Investigations Had Access to Taxpayer Data and Other Sensitive Information (2014-10-037):

IRS policy requires contractor personnel to have a background investigation if they will have or require access to Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information, including taxpayer information. Allowing contractor personnel access to taxpayer and other SBU information without the appropriate background investigation exposes taxpayers to increased risk of fraud and identity theft.

Taxpayer and other SBU information may be at risk due to a lack of background investigation requirements in five contracts for courier, printing, document recovery, and sign language interpreter services. For example, in one printing services contract, the IRS provided the contractor a compact disk containing 1.4 million taxpayer names, addresses, and Social Security Numbers; however, none of the contractor personnel who worked on this contract were subject to a background investigation. In addition, TIGTA found 12 contracts for which IRS program and procurement office staff correctly determined that contractor personnel required background investigations because they would have access to SBU information; however, some contractor personnel did not have interim access approval or final background investigations before they began working on the contracts. Further, TIGTA identified 20 contracts for which either some or all contractor personnel did not sign nondisclosure agreements. In June 2013, after the period covered by our audit, the IRS issued more explicit guidance requiring the execution of nondisclosure agreements.

August 14, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

TIGTA: Tax Exempt Tax Deadbeats -- Nonprofit Groups Owe the IRS Nearly $1 Billion in Payroll Taxes

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released Some Tax-Exempt Organizations Have Substantial Delinquent Payroll Taxes (2014-10-012):

IRS records indicate that the majority of tax-exempt organizations pay their Federal taxes. However, a small percentage are not paying their taxes. More than 64,200 (3.8%) tax‑exempt organizations had nearly $875 million of Federal tax debt as of June 16, 2012. While some organizations owed minor amounts, approximately 1,200 tax‑exempt organizations owed more than $100,000 each. Unpaid taxes were often associated with multiple tax periods. For example, nine organizations each had Federal tax debt spanning 10 or more years that collectively totaled more than $5.5 million.

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August 13, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Friday, June 13, 2014

President Obama Requests 10.5% Budget Increase for IRS, Despite IRS's Failure to Perform Basic Budget Planning

GAO LogoThe Government Accountability Office has released IRS 2015 Budget: Long-Term Strategy and Return on Investment Data Needed to Better Manage Budget Uncertainty and Set Priorities (GAO-14-605):

Since fiscal year 2010, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) budget has declined by about $900 million. As a result, funding is below fiscal year 2009 levels.

IRS Appropriations FY 2009 - 2014 and FY 2015 Requested Appropriation

IRS Appropriations Fiscal Years 2009 through 2014 and Fiscal Year 2015 Requested Appropriation

Staffing has also declined by about 10,000 full-time equivalents since fiscal year 2010, and performance has been uneven. ...

IRS does not calculate actual ROI or use it for resource decisions. These limitations are important, which is why GAO recommended in 2012 that IRS explore developing such estimates. ... GAO recommends that IRS (1) develop a long-term strategy to manage uncertain budgets, and (2) calculate actual ROI for implemented initiatives, compare actual ROI to projected ROI, and use the data to inform resource decisions.

June 13, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (5)

Thursday, May 22, 2014

318,000 Federal Workers Owe $3.3 Billion in Back Taxes (Delinquency Rate Is 33% Higher Among VA Employees)

318,462 federal workers and retirees owed more than $3.3 billion in back income taxes as of September 30, 2013, a delinquency rate of 3.27% (compared to 8.7% for the entire U.S. population). See the full spreadsheet here.

Among the 18 executive departments, the embattled Department of Veterans Affairs has the second highest delinquency rate among its employees:  4.38% (behind the Department of Housing and Urban Development's 5.29%).

Among 27 large (> 1,000 employees) independent agencies, the Federal Reserve has the third highest delinquency rate:  6.51%.

The delinquency rate is 4.87% in the House of Representatives and 2.43% in the Senate.

In the tax world, the delinquency rate is 3.02 in the Tax Court and 1.20% in the Treasury Department (the IRS is not separately broken out).

For prior years data, see:

May 22, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, May 16, 2014

TIGTA: 47% of Alimony Deductions Claimed Don't Match Alimony Income Reported to IRS

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday Significant Discrepancies Exist Between Alimony Deductions Claimed by Payers and Income Reported by Recipients (2014-40-022):

Individuals who pay alimony can deduct the amount paid from income on their tax return to reduce the amount of tax an individual must pay. Conversely, individuals who receive alimony must claim the amount received as income on their tax return. TIGTA initiated this audit to evaluate the alimony reporting gap and to assess controls the IRS has in place to promote reporting compliance.

Processes have not been developed to address the majority of discrepancies between alimony deductions claimed and income reported. TIGTA’s analysis of the 567,887 Tax Year 2010 returns with an alimony deduction claim identified 266,190 (47 percent) tax returns in which it appears that individuals claimed alimony deductions for which income was not reported on a corresponding recipient’s tax return or the amount of alimony income reported did not agree with the amount of the deduction taken. There is a discrepancy of more than $2.3 billion in deductions claimed without corresponding income reported.

May 16, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

TIGTA: IRS Again Fails to Comply With Statutory Mandated Reduction in Improper Payments -- 26% EITC Fraud Costs $16 Billion/Year

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released The Internal Revenue Service Fiscal Year 2013 Improper Payment Reporting Continues to Not Comply With the Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (2014-40-027):

The Improper Payments Elimination and Recovery Act (IPERA) of 2010 strengthened agency reporting requirements and redefined “significant improper payments” in Federal programs. The Office of Management and Budget has declared the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Program a high-risk program that is subject to reporting in the Department of the Treasury Agency Financial Report. The IRS estimates that 22 to 26 percent of EITC payments were issued improperly in Fiscal Year 2013. The dollar value of these improper payments was estimated to be between $13.3 billion and $15.6 billion.

The IRS continues to not provide all required IPERA information to the Department of the Treasury for inclusion in the Department of the Treasury Agency Financial Report Fiscal Year 2013. For the third consecutive year, the IRS did not publish annual reduction targets or report an improper payment rate of less than 10 percent for the EITC. IRS management has indicated that the IRS and the Department of the Treasury are in continued discussions with the Office of Management and Budget to obtain its approval to develop supplemental measures that are appropriate to gauge the impact of EITC compliance and outreach efforts in lieu of developing error reduction targets. Finally, although risk assessments were performed for each of the programs that the Department of the Treasury required the IRS to assess, the risk assessment process still may not provide a valid assessment of improper payments in tax administration. As such, the EITC remains the only revenue program fund to be considered at high risk for improper payments.

TIGTA

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May 13, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (2)

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

GAO: Budget Cuts Hurt IRS's Performance

GAO,  GAO LogoInternal Revenue Service: Absorbing Budget Cuts Has Resulted in Significant Staffing Declines and Uneven Performance (GAO-14-534) (Apr. 21, 2014):

IRS’s appropriations have declined to below fiscal year 2009 levels and FTEs have been reduced by about 8,000 since fiscal year 2009. Planned performance in enforcement and taxpayer service has decreased or fluctuated; for example, in the fiscal year 2014 congressional justification the audit coverage target for individual examinations was 1.0 percent for fiscal year 2014, however, the target was lowered to 0.8 percent in the fiscal year 2015 congressional justification. Amidst lower demand, IRS’s telephone level of service performance (the percentage of callers seeking live assistance and receiving it) was 73 percent from January 1 through March 15, 2014 compared to 69 percent during the same period last year. However, between fiscal years 2009 and 2013, IRS’s telephone level of service fluctuated between 61 percent and 74 percent. Average wait times have almost doubled since fiscal year 2009—from 8.8 minutes to 16.8 minutes as of mid-March 2014.

Not including other budgetary resources such as user fees, the fiscal year 2015 budget request for IRS is $12.5 billion, which is an increase of 10.5 percent ($1.2 billion) in funding and 8.3 percent in staffing (6,998 FTEs) over fiscal year 2014. According to the President’s budget, of the requested $1.2 billion, $480 million is predicated on a cap adjustment—funding above the discretionary spending limit—and largely covers enforcement and infrastructure initiatives. IRS’s workload has increased as a result of legislative mandates and priority programs, such as work related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and identity theft.

IRS has absorbed approximately $900 million in budget cuts since fiscal year 2010 through savings and efficiencies and by reducing, delaying, or eliminating services. For example, IRS delayed two information technology projects (Information Reporting and Document Matching and Return Review Program) and substantially reduced employee training. To help improve operations, the President requested a large budget increase for IRS in fiscal year 2015. However, additional funding is not the only solution. We have open recommendations on IRS’s operations that may help it achieve efficiencies over time, such as developing a long-term plan to improve web services.

IRS Enacted Appropriations, FY 2009-2014, and Fiscal Year 2015 Request

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April 23, 2014 in Congressional News, Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, April 21, 2014

GAO: IRS Audits 1% of Big Partnerships, 27% of Big Corporations

GAO LogoFollowing up on my previous post, David Cay Johnston, How to Cheat on Your Taxes: the Government Accountability Office has released Characteristics of Population and IRS Audits (GAO-14-379R):

This report provides data on the number and characteristics of large partnerships as well as Internal Revenue Service (IRS) audits of large partnership returns. For purposes of this report, GAO did not identify a statutory, IRS, or industry-accepted definition of a large partnership. Instead, GAO used a combination of criteria for partner size and asset size used by IRS to define large partnerships as those that reported having 100 or more direct partners and $100 million or more in assets. The number of large partnerships increased from 720 in tax year 2002 to 2,226 in tax year 2011. Large partnerships also increased in terms of the average number of direct partners and average asset size. IRS had data on two categories of large partnership return audits. First, the number of completed field audits of large partnership returns increased from 11 in fiscal year 2007 to 31 in fiscal year 2013. Second, IRS counted audits closed through its campus function, which increased from 42 to 143 over the same period. Unlike field audits, campus function audits generally do not entail a review of the books and records of the large partnership return but rather were opened to pass through large partnership return audit adjustments to the related partners' returns. The percentage of IRS audits that resulted in no change to the taxpayer's return varied from fiscal year 2007 to 2013 but was 52 percent for campus function audits and 45 percent for field audits in fiscal year 2013.

April 21, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, March 17, 2014

TIGTA: The IRS Does Not Follow Procedures in 48% of Taxpayer Bankruptcy Cases

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration has released Bankruptcy Procedures Designed to Protect Taxpayer Rights and the Government’s Interest Were Not Always Followed (2014-40-013):

Impact on Taxpayers
The bankruptcy automatic stay provision prohibits the IRS from taking certain collection actions against a debtor (taxpayer) as soon as it learns, or is notified by a U.S. bankruptcy court, that a bankruptcy petition has been filed. Similarly, the debtor may be granted a discharge, which remains after the case is closed and is a permanent injunction order prohibiting the IRS from taking any form of collection action against the debtor personally with respect to discharged debts. If the IRS does not observe the automatic stay or the discharge injunction, taxpayers’ rights could potentially be violated and the IRS could be sued for damages.

Why TIGTA Did the Audit
In Fiscal Year 2012, IRS data showed that the Field Insolvency function received 306,920 bankruptcy cases on taxpayers owing approximately $2.5 billion in taxes, penalties, and interest. This audit was initiated to determine whether the function has effective controls and procedures in place to take appropriate and timely actions to protect the Government’s interest and taxpayers’ rights during bankruptcy proceedings.

What TIGTA Found
Field Insolvency function specialists frequently did not follow required procedures when working bankruptcy cases. Although TIGTA did not identify any violations of taxpayers’ rights and/or failure to protect the Government’s interest during this review, there is a higher risk that this could occur when procedures are not followed.

TIGTA’s review of three random samples of closed bankruptcy cases showed that specialists did not always follow established procedures in 17 (57 percent) of 30 Chapter 7 cases, 15 (50 percent) of 30 Chapter 11 cases, and 13 (43 percent) of 30 Chapter 13 cases reviewed. Specifically, specialists did not always timely or properly conduct the initial case analysis, follow up on scheduled case actions within a reasonable time, or timely or properly close cases.

TIGTA also reviewed a random sample of 30 bankruptcy cases with Automated Proof of Claim flag conditions (errors that need to be resolved by a specialist). Specialists did not timely or properly resolve the flag conditions in 12 (40 percent) of 30 cases.

March 17, 2014 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

TIGTA: IRS Vendors Owe $589 Million in Back Taxes, Yet IRS Refuses to do Annual Tax Check of All Contractors

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration yesterday released Vendors Had Millions of Dollars of Federal Tax Debt (2013-10-116):

The vast majority of vendors that conduct business with the IRS meet their Federal tax obligations. However, TIGTA found that 1,168 (7%) IRS vendors had a combined $589 million of Federal tax debt. ... TIGTA previously recommended that the IRS establish procedures requiring an annual tax check for all IRS contractors. The IRS disagreed with this recommendation and did not implement it. TIGTA continues to believe that the IRS should establish procedures requiring periodic (annual) tax compliance checks for all contractors. Because TIGTA has already recommended expanded tax checks for IRS contractors, no additional recommendations regarding IRS vendor tax compliance are being made at this time.

December 18, 2013 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, December 13, 2013

GAO: IRS Lacks Adequate Internal Controls

GAOThe Government Accountability Office yesterday released Financial Audit: IRS’s Fiscal Years 2013 and 2012 Financial Statements:

In GAO’s opinion, the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) fiscal years 2013 and 2012 financial statements are fairly presented in all material respects. However, in GAO’s opinion, IRS did not maintain effective internal control over financial reporting as of September 30, 2013, because of a continuing material weakness in internal control over unpaid tax assessments. ...

During fiscal year 2013, IRS continued to make important progress in addressing deficiencies in internal control over its financial reporting systems. However, new and continuing deficiencies in internal control that GAO identified over information security, including missing security updates, insufficient monitoring of financial reporting systems, and weak encryption for authentication, constituted a significant deficiency in IRS’s internal control. Until IRS fully addresses existing control deficiencies over its financial reporting systems, there is an increased risk that its financial and taxpayer data will remain vulnerable to inappropriate and undetected use, modification, or disclosure.

In addition to its internal control deficiencies, IRS faces significant ongoing financial management challenges associated with (1) safeguarding the large volume of sensitive hard copy taxpayer receipts and related information, and (2) its exposure to significant improper refunds from identity theft.

December 13, 2013 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (0)

Thursday, December 5, 2013

TIGTA: IRS Issues $2.3 Billion/Year in Fraudulent Tax Refunds Based on Phony Employer Identification Numbers

TIGTA The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration today released Stolen and Falsely Obtained Employer Identification Num bers Are Used to Report False Income and Withholding (2013-40-120):

The IRS issues Employer Identification Numbers (EINs) to identify taxpayers’ business accounts. Individuals attempting to commit tax refund fraud commonly steal or falsely obtain an EIN to file tax returns reporting false income and withholding. TIGTA estimates that the IRS could issue almost $2.3 billion in potentially fraudulent tax refunds based on these EINs yearly (or about $11.4 billion over the next five years).

December 5, 2013 in Gov't Reports, IRS News, Tax | Permalink | Comments (1)