GAO: IRS hasn't evaluated data-sharing program
- By Mary Mosquera
- Dec 09, 2008
The Internal Revenue Service doesn't have a plan to evaluate the
effectiveness of a data-sharing pilot program even though it plans to
launch the program in 45 states in July 2009, the Government
Accountability Office said.
Under the State Reverse File Match
Initiative, the IRS matches federal and state taxpayer data to detect
individuals and businesses that do not file tax returns or report all
their income, GAO auditors wrote in a report released Dec. 8.
are increasingly sharing taxpayer data to help verify
applicant-provided information, the GAO report states. The IRS'
data-matching program has been a cost-effective way of capturing
underreported income and bringing in billions of dollars of tax revenue
while boosting voluntary compliance, GAO said.
— including California, New York and Ohio —participated in the first
three phases of the pilot program, the report states.
officials said they plan to evaluate the program results so they can
decide whether to expand data sharing with states, GAO auditors wrote.
However, the IRS has little documentation related to its evaluation and
no standards or criteria on which to base the pilot program's
performance and determine whether it should be incorporated into IRS’
compliance activities, GAO said.
IRS officials plan to use
research results to help formulate standards to determine the pilot
program's success, but they did not provide a target date for
accomplishing that, GAO said.
And although the IRS has begun
formulating plans for developing a sampling approach and determining
appropriate sample size, problems such as delays in information
technology assistance and time limits for using taxpayer data have
delayed progress, GAO said.
“Without a sound assessment of pilot
program results, IRS may make poor decisions about the program’s
future,” said Michael Brostek, director of GAO’s tax issues strategic
IRS officials said they would develop an evaluation
plan to reliably assess the pilot program’s results and include the key
evaluation features that GAO recommended.
Those features include:
- Clear and measurable objectives.
- A plan that details the type and source of data necessary to evaluate the pilot program.
- Methods for collecting data and determining the frequency of collection.
- A detailed data-analysis plan to track the program’s performance and evaluate its results.
Mary Mosquera is a reporter for Federal Computer Week.