Does the IRS always follow procedures for determining tax debt?

The IRS should always follow the same procedure for identifying delinquent taxpayers and determining the collectiblility of tax debt. Unfortunately, according to a recent report, this is not the case.

According to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), IRS employees do not always operate according to procedure when dealing with taxpayers' potential ability to pay delinquent tax debt. Additionally, TIGTA found that collectibility is not being tracked or measured. As a result, the IRS is burdening certain individuals with back tax payments they cannot afford.

The TIGTA estimates that there were 1,731 office examination cases and 1,445 field examination cases in the 2015 fiscal year where IRS employees failed to follow proper procedures for determining collectible tax debt.

"Throughout an examination, examiners are expected to follow Internal Revenue Manual procedures to consider the taxpayer's ability to pay a potential assessment," The TIGTA report states. "Taxpayers who have financial difficulties and cannot afford to make tax payments may be further burdened if the IRS audits them for additional assessments that they cannot pay. Further, taxpayers may be treated inconsistently when examiners do not follow procedures to consider a taxpayer's ability to make payments."

In this report, the TIGTA recommends that the IRS take corrective actions to improve collectibility determinations and better track and measure data. The IRS agreed and plans to move forward with improvements.

If you are facing a dispute with the IRS over uncollectible back taxes, consider speaking with an experienced tax attorney about your legal options.

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