The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced today that new steps, including the notification of taxpayers when refunds are frozen and the more timely release of frozen refunds not warranting further review, have been undertaken to improve the Questionable Refund Program (QRP) and reduce the number of taxpayers subject to frozen refunds.
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“The actions we’re announcing constitute significant improvements to an important program,” IRS Commissioner Mark Everson said in a prepared statement. “Going forward, we’re going to both improve our screening procedures and notify all taxpayers whose refunds are held. As Senate Finance Chairman Grassley stated when asking us to look at reforms for QRP, the IRS needs to respect the ‘necessary balance between taxpayer rights and enforcement of the law.’ We believe this approach strikes the right balance.”
The QRP, which was established to deal with the serious problem of refund fraud and increased significantly in recent years, has come under fire, not only from the Senate, but from the IRS’ own taxpayer advocate, Nina Olson. In fact, it was ranked second on the list of worst taxpayer problems presented last month in Olson’s annual report to Congress. The new procedures have been developed in consultation with the National Taxpayer Advocate.
Among the steps being taken to improve the program are:
- Taxpayer Notification Beginning this filing season, the IRS will notify taxpayers whose refunds are frozen.
- Improvements to screening procedures The IRS will improve and refine the accuracy of filters in the program, as soon as possible in coming months, to reduce the initial number of valid refund claims that are frozen.
- Earlier release of refunds In coming months the IRS will expedite the review of returns, resulting in an earlier release of refunds.