IRS RESPONSE TO RECOMMENDATION: IRS continues to promote a variety of channels for taxpayers to receive help with questions about EITC. These include the toll-free phone assistors trained in tax law and our web resources including the EITC Assistant, an on-line tool available on IRS.gov. This year, between October 2015 and March 2016, over 240,000 taxpayers used the Assistant to determine qualification for the credit and over 1.3 million accessed IRS.gov/eitc.
Our VITA and TCE partnerships, administered by our SPEC organization, provide tax preparation assistance for EITC taxpayers. In fiscal years 2014 and 2015, they prepared about 744,000 EITC returns claiming over $1.1 billion in EITC. In FY 2016, through April 18, 2016, they prepared almost 695,000 returns claiming over $1 billion in EITC.
The IRS led the effort to deliver the tenth annual nationwide EITC Awareness Day on January 29, 2016. The IRS and partners used events and social media to increase awareness of this important credit that benefits workers and their families. Events included news conferences, news releases, e-mail blasts, newsletters and social media interactions. Over 290 local events were held. English & Spanish radio interviews were held with 575 radio stations. The same interviews provided access to over 1,500 local stations. The IRS and its partners tweeted over 2,400 English tweets reaching over 2.6 million Twitter followers and yielded over 5.8 million touches on individuals’ Twitter timelines during Awareness Day. The EITC Awareness Day Thunderclap (which is a social media tool that allows organizations, partners and individuals to join together to blast a message of support at the same time to all of their followers social media) had 255 supporters with a potential reach of 372,970 people.
CORRECTIVE ACTION: N/A
TAS RESPONSE: TAS is disappointed the IRS is not implementing this recommendation. The IRS indicates toll-free phone assistors are trained in tax law. However, the IRS has stopped answering any tax law questions outside of filing season. Couple this with VITA sites only being open during filing season and a void for assistance is created. Lengthy wait times impact taxpayers because fewer taxpayers are being assisted, and taxpayers must use their limited minutes waiting on the phone for assistance. Moreover, while VITA and TCE sites perform an important service, they served only about 744,000 EITC taxpayers out of the 27.5 million claiming the EITC annually.59 And while the EITC Awareness Day is a very important initiative, it is geared to deliver a broad message, not one targeted to the specific questions of a specific taxpayer relating to their specific facts and circumstances. Neither of these initiatives are a substitute for person- to-person assistance.
ADOPTED, PARTIALLY ADOPTED or NOT ADOPTED: Partially Adopted
OPEN or CLOSED: Closed
DUE DATE FOR ACTION (if left open): N/A