Nothing was done for months on end with nearly half of the taxpayer complaints submitted to the IRS about private tax preparers during 2012 and most of 2013, according to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.
"Complaints against tax return preparers are not timely processed," TIGTA said in a report made public Thursday. "TIGTA’s review of the 8,354 complaints received in Calendar Years 2012 and 2013, as of September 11, 2013, identified 3,953 (47 percent) for which work on the complaints had yet to be initiated."
Another 49 percent of the complaints during that period saw no work done on them for at least two months, the report said.
The report was done because processing such complaints is vital to the IRS's efforts to eliminate incompetent and dishonest tax preparers:
"Because of the critical role they have in helping taxpayers to comply with the tax laws, identifying problem preparers through the complaint process is an essential component of the IRS’s oversight responsibilities. Unqualified or unethical tax return preparers can negatively impact taxpayers, as well as tax revenue if the tax returns they prepare are incorrect and/or fraudulent. The burden on taxpayers can include receiving an incorrect refund amount or even owing the IRS penalties and interest."
IRS officials were also criticized for failing to establish "a process to reconcile complaints received with what was entered into inventory records. TIGTA’s review identified 839 complaints received during December 2012 and January 2013 that were not entered into inventory records until 34 to 64 business days after IRS receipt."
Even when the complaints are entered into the government's processing system, errors are made because the same information is ranked, scored and prioritized differently by individual processors, TIGTA said.