Washington: The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) today released its annual interim report of the performance of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) during the current tax filing season.
The filing season, defined as the period from January 1 through mid-April, is critical for the IRS because it is during this time that most individuals file their income tax returns and contact the IRS if they have questions about specific laws or filing procedures. The objective of this review was to provide selected information related to the IRS’s 2016 Filing Season. TIGTA plans to issue the final results of our analysis of the 2016 Filing Season in September 2016.
The IRS was challenged by the late passage of legislation that extended a number of expired tax provisions. To reduce the impact on the filing season, the IRS monitored the status of the legislation and took steps to implement the extension of these provisions prior to their enactment. These efforts enabled the IRS to begin accepting and processing individual tax returns on January 19, 2016, as scheduled.
As of March 4, 2016, the IRS received approximately 67 million tax returns – 62.6 million (93.9 percent) were filed electronically (e-filed) and four million (6.1 percent) were filed on paper. The IRS has issued 53.5 million refunds totaling more than $160 billion. In addition, as of February 25, 2016, the IRS processed 1.4 million tax returns that reported $4.4 billion in Premium Tax Credits that were either received in advance or claimed at the time of filing. More than 2.7 million taxpayers reported shared responsibility payments totaling $1 billion for not maintaining required health insurance coverage.
The IRS continues to expand its efforts to detect tax refund fraud. As of March 5, 2016, the IRS reports that it identified 42,148 tax returns with $227 million claimed in fraudulent refunds and prevented the issuance of $180.6 million (79.6 percent) in fraudulent refunds. In addition, the IRS reports that expanded use of controls to identify fraudulent refund claims before they are accepted into the processing system has allowed the IRS to identify approximately 35,000 fraudulent e-filed tax returns and 741 paper tax returns as of February 29, 2016. The IRS also identified and confirmed 31,578 fraudulent tax returns involving identity theft as of February 29, 2016, and identified 20,224 prisoner tax returns for screening as of March 5, 2016.
The IRS continues to offer more self-assistance options that taxpayers can access 24 hours a day, seven days a week, including its IRS2Go app; YouTube channels; interactive self-help tools on IRS.gov; and Twitter, Tumblr, and Facebook accounts. In addition, as of March 5, 2016, approximately 46.1 million taxpayers contacted the IRS by calling the various Customer Account Services function’s toll-free telephone assistance lines. IRS assistors have answered 7.3 million calls and provided a 72.8 percent Level of Service with a 9.6 minute Average Speed of Answer.
Finally, during Fiscal Year 2016, the IRS plans to assist 4.7 million taxpayers through face-to-face contact at the Taxpayer Assistance Centers, which is a 16 percent decrease from Fiscal Year 2015. This report was prepared to provide interim information only. Therefore, no recommendations were made in the report.
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