NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

IRS Still Handing Out Erroneous Advice

July 16, 2001

If you are one of the millions of Americans who find tax forms confusing, chances are you won't get correct answers from the Internal Revenue Service. That is what Treasury Department teams found when they visited IRS walk-in centers earlier this year.

  • The department found that IRS agents gave incorrect or insufficient advice to 73 percent of questions put to them -- only a slight improvement over last year's 81 percent error rate.
  • For example, one investigator was left waiting 90 minutes and then was only given a stack of IRS papers and told to "do her own homework."
  • Another investigator -- who visited a site at 11 a.m. -- was told the agency wasn't answering any more questions that day, and instructed to come back the next day.
  • More than nine million taxpayers use the walk-in centers.

Pamela Gardiner, the Treasury Department's inspector general for audits, reports that the sampling revealed that out of 90 questions involving tax law, 61 were answered incorrectly, and in seven cases service was denied.

IRS employees were rude or discourteous in four cases. In 15 cases, the investigators had to wait more than 15 minutes to see an agent, and in one case they had to wait more than two hours while agents were in a back room talking.

Source: Lance Gay, "Test Finds IRS Advice Seriously Wanting," Washington Times, July 16, 2001.


Browse more articles on Tax and Spending Issues