IRS’s Delays in Responding to Taxpayer Correspondence Take Mounting Toll

The Internal Revenue Service’s delays in processing taxpayer correspondence are lengthening, leading to delayed tax refunds and bigger interest payments from the IRS, according to a new report.

The report, from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, found inconsistent use of “over-age” correspondence lists by some managers at the IRS causes delays in processing taxpayers’ correspondence, creating a burden for taxpayers who must wait longer for assistance and, in some cases, their tax refunds. 

The IRS’s internal guidelines specify that correspondence from taxpayers is generally considered over-age if it has not been resolved within 45 days. Customer satisfaction surveys found taxpayers were dissatisfied with the length of time the IRS took to resolve their cases. The delays can result in the IRS unnecessarily paying interest to taxpayers, estimated at more than $27.6 million in fiscal year 2014. Over-aged correspondence has steadily increased from 40 percent in fiscal year 2012 to 49 percent in fiscal year 2015.

In previous reviews, TIGTA recommended the IRS should develop a consistent process to ensure that managers complete their reviews of Automated Age Listings—that is, correspondence over-age reports.

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