The IRS should make better use of the third-party data it receives from employers, government agencies and financial institutions to reduce erroneous refunds, increase revenues and promote voluntary compliance. ... TIGTA found that the IRS:
- Could make better use of available third-party data to identify and prevent more than $1 billion in potentially erroneous refunds;
- Does not have a centralized control point for third-party data requested or received from outside sources; and,
- Lacks a standardized procedure for validating data.
The report also found that additional validation of taxpayer information using third-party data is needed to validate claims for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other credits.
"These problems allow a substantial number of erroneous refunds and credits to be granted that are not allowable by law," said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. "For example, I am troubled that we found a lack of adequate corrective action by the IRS to address improper claims in the EITC Program, which is particularly vulnerable to fraud."
TIGTA recommended that the IRS freeze refunds for those taxpayers with potentially invalid EITC claims, require valid responses before allowing the EITC claims, and adjust the returns if taxpayers do not respond within a specific time period.
The IRS disagreed with TIGTA's recommendations to freeze potentially invalid refunds and to create a centralized control point for all third-party data.