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The Nation : IRS Error Rate Disputed, Held to Be 40%

The Internal Revenue Service is giving the wrong answer to telephoned tax questions 40% of the time--not the 31% claimed by the IRS, government auditors said. In a rare public airing of a dispute between government agencies, the IRS told a congressional panel that both figures can be justified, denied attempting to mislead anyone and said there is no pride in either error rate. The dispute between the IRS and the General Accounting Office, an arm of Congress, is over how to judge the accuracy of answers that IRS telephone workers will give to some of the 62 test questions that will be posed clandestinely by other IRS employees during the filing season. “Many of the answers IRS wants to score as ‘right’ are incomplete and potentially misleading,” said Jennie Stathis of the GAO to the House Government Operations subcommittee on consumer affairs.


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