NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

IRS Abuses Hidden By Shoddy Record Keeping

June 21, 1999

The General Accounting Office says it has been unable to substantiate allegations of taxpayer abuse at the Internal Revenue Service because the agency kept incomplete records or did not collect data on the cases.

  • The allegations arose in hearings held last year and in 1997 by the Senate Finance Committee, which led to passage of legislation overhauling IRS management and agency procedures.
  • Sen. William V. Roth Jr. (R-Del.), the committee's chairman, says the report "raises issues that give us serious concern."
  • He added that the report "makes it clear that satisfactory results cannot be achieved until the IRS systematically tracks relevant data and keeps information necessary for real reform."
  • Witnesses at Roth's hearings alleged that senior IRS managers were not subject to the same level of disciplinary action as line staff, that the agency retaliated against whistle-blowers and against taxpayers who were perceived as non-cooperative, and that IRS employees eliminated or reduced proposed tax assessments for reasons not related to the merits of the case.

With regard to the GAO report, IRS Commissioner Charles Rossotti signaled that he believes "we have learned all we can about these particular cases" and suggested the IRS needs to get on with broader issues.

Source: Stephen Barr, "IRS Failures Blamed for Thwarting Hill Probe," Washington Post, June 19, 1999.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues