Online account access for taxpayers nearly 7 years overdue


Fifteen years after Congress required the Internal Revenue Service to let taxpayers access their information online, the agency's progress toward that goal remains inadequate, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration says.

The IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (P.L. 105-206) required the IRS to produce a system for taxpayers to review their individual accounts online by the end of 2006. The agency missed that deadline, and taxpayers still can't review their tax information on the Internet.

A newly released TIGTA report dated Sept. 30 says that instead, the IRS "devoted resources to the development and implementation of several applications that do not meet the intent of RRA 98." The IRS prioritized those applications over others that could fulfill the law's requirements, the report says.

The agency's eAuthentication project--the goal of which is a system that can register individuals and validate their credentials so they can review their tax accounts--has not undergone capacity testing. As a result, "the IRS does not know how many users can access eAuthentication at once before it fails and cannot verify whether eAuthentication will function as intended," the report says.

Among the applications the IRS has developed that don't satisfy the 1998 law's requirements is Where's My Amended Return?, a tool that lets taxpayers track the status of amended tax returns.

In January, the IRS plans to launch an application called Get Transcript, which will allow taxpayers to view most line items from their tax returns. That information is commonly needed when individuals apply for loans or visas. The IRS says it will stop issuing tax transcripts to individuals seeking help through its taxpayer assistance offices once the application becomes available.

For more:
- download the report, 2013-20-126 (.pdf)

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