Tuesday, October 31, 2006

GAO: Does the IRS Really Know Whether Private Collection is Working?

The General Accountability Office just released a report indicating that the Internal Revenue Service needed clearer parameters for evaluating tax collection efforts. Special issues which the GAO looked at included: determining key success factors, assessing present information and lessons learned before going forward and whether present study plans will successfully address whether private collection efforts are a cost-effective approach to dealing with the tax collection backlog (presently about $132 billion). With large-scale implementation of private collection planned for the start of 2008, GAO asked IRS to address "results-oriented goals and measures; reliable, verifiable costs and evaluation plans"--as well as how to evaluate results, before March 2007.

Private collection of U.S. taxes has been controversial since its proposal and it is not surprising that the GAO has asked that the IRS be very careful before large-scale implementation occurs. At the same time, GAO should consider not only whether the private collection plan works against a set of criteria but also how it compares with present IRS-based collection processes.


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