National Taxpayer Advocate's Blog: Taxpayer Rights and Taxpayer Burden
Virtual Face-to-Face Audits: A prescription for curing the IRS’s ailing correspondence examination processPOSTED: April 04, 2012
While the IRS instituted correspondence or “corr” exams in an effort to conserve its resources and minimize taxpayer burden, IRS customer satisfaction surveys and Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) research studies have consistently shown that for the majority of taxpayers subject to this method of auditing – many of whom are low income and unrepresented – corr exams are an unnavigable labyrinth.
In some of my recent blog postings, I’ve raised concerns about the impact of IRS correspondence examinations on taxpayers’ rights, including the failure to provide taxpayers with the specific name and contact information of the auditors examining their returns. The IRS uses correspondence examinations – “corr exams” – because it believes they are a cost-effective way to conduct audits of less complex issues for a large number of taxpayers while minimizing burden on those taxpayers.
Last year, in a nationwide survey of U.S. taxpayers who had filed a 2010 tax return, the Taxpayer Advocate Service asked whether respondents believed they had rights before the IRS. We also asked if they knew what their rights as a taxpayer were when dealing with the IRS. Astonishingly (to me, at least), only 9% of respondents said they believed they had rights before the IRS. Fifty-five percent said they believed they had no rights and another 21% said they weren’t sure. (Fifteen percent didn’t answer the question.)