AICPA: Correspondence Audits Challenge Taxpayers

By Bonner, Paul | Journal of Accountancy, May 2012 | Go to article overview

AICPA: Correspondence Audits Challenge Taxpayers


Bonner, Paul, Journal of Accountancy


The IRS's use of correspondence audits to resolve issues with tax returns has mushroomed over the past decade--but taxpayer satisfaction with the program is fairly low. According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), only 48% of those surveyed by the IRS said they were either somewhat or very satisfied with the service related to their audit.

Correspondence audits were the subject of a public hearing in February by the IRS Oversight Board.

The IRS uses correspondence audits to obtain additional reformation from taxpayers about a few limited issues on the taxpayer's return. Correspondence audits are generally narrower than a traditional audit and are conducted by mail or other written communications, making them cheaper and less labor-intensive for the IRS.

Among the chief sources of taxpayer dissatisfaction are the excessive time it takes the IRS to resolve cases and difficulties reaching someone to learn the status of a case. Under the IRS's earlier call system, 13% of callers phoned more than eight times before their issue was resolved, and 70% of the calls went to voice mail. The IRS has started to implement a system designed to provide a faster connection to someone who can answer a taxpayer's question.

"AICPA members are very familiar with the difficulties and challenges taxpayers have faced with correspondence examinations," said AICPA Tax Executive Committee Chair Patricia Thompson, one of four panelists at the heating. …

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