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The Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC) Releases 2014 Annual Report

November 25, 2014 Comments off

The Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council (IRSAC) Releases 2014 Annual Report
Source: Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service Advisory Council held its annual public meeting today and released its annual report, which includes recommendations on a wide range of tax administration issues.

IRSAC is an advisory group to the entire agency. IRSAC’s primary purpose is to provide an organized public forum of relevant tax administration issues for the Commissioner, senior IRS executives and representatives of the public to discuss relevant tax issues.

IRSAC members convey the public’s perception of professional standards and best practices for tax professionals and IRS activities; offer constructive observations regarding current or proposed IRS policies, programs, and procedures; and suggest improvements to IRS operations.

Based on its findings and discussions, IRSAC made several recommendations on a broad range of issues and concerns including IRS funding, as well as topics identified by subgroups covering the Office of Professional Responsibility and Large Business and International, Small Business/Self-Employed and Wage and Investment operating divisions.

IRSAC is administered by the National Public Liaison Office. IRSAC draws its members from the tax professional community and members of academia.

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TIGTA — Improvements Are Needed to Ensure That the Search and Seizure Warrant Process Is Adequately Documented and That Evidence Is Properly Secured

November 5, 2014 Comments off

Improvements Are Needed to Ensure That the Search and Seizure Warrant Process Is Adequately Documented and That Evidence Is Properly Secured
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does not always follow all procedures to ensure that evidence it seizes is properly stored and controlled, according to a report released publicly today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

Each IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) special agent has the authority to perform all duties under all laws and regulations administered by the IRS, including the authority to conduct searches and issue search and seizure warrants.

TIGTA’s audit was initiated to determine whether CI is properly processing search and/or seizure warrants and following the policies for maintaining the chain of custody for any evidence obtained.

TIGTA requested 152 closed search and/or seizure warrant cases from the IRS to review. However, CI management did not provide 91 of these cases. According to CI management, these cases contained grand jury information, were part of an ongoing investigation, or had been sealed by the court.

For 70 of these cases, CI management could not provide any documentation to support that these cases contained grand jury information, were part of an ongoing investigation, or were sealed. As such, TIGTA had to rely on CI management’s verbal statements. This constitutes a significant scope impairment because it prevented TIGTA from fully evaluating CI’s processing of search and seizure warrants and from determining whether the IRS is following established legal requirements to prevent the abuse of taxpayer rights.

However, TIGTA was able to review the remaining 61 closed search and/or seizure warrant cases provided by the IRS and found that 14 cases were missing documentation of the Criminal Tax Counsel’s post-search warrant inventory review, were missing signed affidavits, and/or contained errors on their search warrants.

“Our report found that procedures were not always followed to ensure that seized evidence was properly stored and/or controlled,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “Without maintaining proper documentation and following evidence procedures, evidence may be inappropriately disclosed, lost, tampered with, or stolen.”

TIGTA — The Internal Revenue Service Needs to Enhance Its International Collection Efforts

November 3, 2014 Comments off

The Internal Revenue Service Needs to Enhance Its International Collection Efforts (PDF)
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration
From press release:

As international tax noncompliance remains a significant area of concern for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), its collection efforts need to be enhanced to ensure that delinquent international taxpayers become compliant with their U.S. tax obligations, according to a report released publicly today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

The overall objective of TIGTA’s review was to evaluate the IRS’s collection efforts on delinquent taxpayers residing in foreign countries. Income received from international transactions of these taxpayers is subject to U.S. tax rules and reporting requirements.

“The IRS faces many unique challenges in collecting taxes from international taxpayers,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “In today’s global economy, businesses and individuals are becoming more and more involved in international transactions. Accordingly, the role of an international revenue officer is very important in helping taxpayers comply with the tax laws and improving international tax compliance.”

TIGTA’s review found that ineffective management oversight has contributed to several control weaknesses in the International Collection program. Moreover, the IRS does not have reliable statistics on the rate of noncompliance of these taxpayers with their U.S. tax obligations.

For example, International Collection does not have:

• Adequate policies, procedures, position descriptions, or the training needed to ensure that international revenue officers can properly work International Collection cases.

• A specific inventory selection process that ensures that the International Collection cases with the highest risk are worked.

• Performance measures and enforcement results reported separately from Domestic Collection.

• A process to measure the value of the “Customs Hold” as an enforcement tool.

TIGTA recommended that the IRS: 1) develop a formal International Collection Strategic plan; 2) update International Collection guidance to provide specific policies and procedures to international revenue officers; 3) evaluate and update the current international revenue officer position descriptions; 4) develop a formal International Collection training plan using Subject Matter Experts to develop and teach international specific courses; 5) evaluate the International

Collection inventory selection criteria; 6) develop separate performance measures and track specific enforcement results for International Collection; and 7) continue to pursue direct access to the Customs Hold information.

IRS officials agreed with all of TIGTA’s recommendations and have taken or plan to take corrective actions. However, while the IRS has implemented some corrective actions to improve the selection of International Collection inventory, develop separate performance measures, and track enforcement results, TIGTA does not believe that the IRS’s completed corrective actions fully addressed the recommendations.

IRS — In 2015, Various Tax Benefits Increase Due to Inflation Adjustments

October 30, 2014 Comments off

In 2015, Various Tax Benefits Increase Due to Inflation Adjustments
Source: Internal Revenue Service

For tax year 2015, the Internal Revenue Service announced today annual inflation adjustments for more than 40 tax provisions, including the tax rate schedules, and other tax changes. Revenue Procedure 2014-61 provides details about these annual adjustments.

TIGTA Releases Annual Report on IRS Compliance Trends

October 13, 2014 Comments off

TIGTA Releases Annual Report on IRS Compliance Trends
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Despite less funding and fewer employees, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) increased the total dollars received and collected for the third straight year, according to a new report publicly released today by the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA).

However, the IRS conducted fewer examinations, and its Collection Function continued to receive more delinquent accounts than it closed, the report concluded.

2012 Individual Income Tax Returns Complete Report (Publication 1304) Now Available

September 16, 2014 Comments off

2012 Individual Income Tax Returns Complete Report (Publication 1304) Now Available
Source: Internal Revenue Service

The Internal Revenue Service today announced the availability of Statistics of Income—2012, Individual Income Tax Returns Complete Report (Publication 1304). U.S. taxpayers filed 144.9 million individual income tax returns for tax year 2012, down 0.3 percent from 2011. The adjusted gross income less deficit reported on these returns totaled $9.1 trillion, which is an 8.7-percent increase from the prior year.

The report is based on a sample drawn from the 144.9 million individual income tax returns filed for tax year 2012 and provides estimates on sources of income, adjusted gross income, exemptions, deductions, taxable income, income tax, modified income tax, tax credits, self-employment tax, and tax payments.

Classifications include tax status, size of adjusted gross income, marital status, age, and type of tax computation. A brief text reviews the requirements for filing tax returns, explains the changes in tax law, and describes the sample used to produce the report.

TIGTA — Some Contractor Personnel Without Background Investigations Had Access to Taxpayer Data and Other Sensitive Information

September 3, 2014 Comments off

Some Contractor Personnel Without Background Investigations Had Access to Taxpayer Data and Other Sensitive Information
Source: Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS
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.

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT
The overall objective of this review was to determine the effectiveness of IRS controls to ensure that background investigations were conducted for contractor personnel who had access to SBU information.

WHAT TIGTA FOUND
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.

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED
TIGTA recommended that the Deputy Commissioner for Operations Support should ensure that the types of service contracts identified in this review have the appropriate security provisions included in the contract and that associated contractor personnel have an appropriate interim access approval or final background investigation prior to beginning work on the contract. In addition, the IRS should use the results of our contract reviews to train program office and procurement office staff on contractor security requirements and the necessity for contractor personnel to sign nondisclosure agreements prior to working on a contract. Finally, TIGTA recommended that the Office of Chief Counsel (Chief Counsel) work with the Department of the Treasury Security Office to review the waiver currently in place that exempts expert witnesses from background investigations and determine if the waiver is still appropriate in the current security environment.

The IRS agreed with four of the five recommendations. The IRS disagreed with our recommendation that the Chief Counsel should work with the Department of the Treasury Security Office to review the background investigation waiver issued in August 2005 to determine if the waiver is still appropriate. TIGTA believes that waiving the requirement for a background investigation presents a security risk.

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