A press release from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has recently raised several concerns about the effectiveness of the Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Final Integration Test (FIT), an end-to-end testing process of the hundreds of computer applications used to process income tax returns.
The FIT is designed to ensure that revisions made to the IRS tax processing computer applications interact correctly prior to the tax return filing season. If these systems are not properly integrated to deliver filing season functionality, taxpayers may be unable to file returns in a timely manner, receive refunds, or obtain accurate customer service.
J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, said about the findings in the release, "The IRS needs to make significant changes to its tax processing system to implement legislative changes. It is vital that the FIT Program identify and resolve issues prior to the start of the 2015 Filing Season."
TIGTA revealed that the IRS does not currently have a formal process in place to evaluate, compare, and synchronize the FIT test environment with the filing season environment and that the Integrated Customer Communications Environment was not included in the FIT test environment.
Following the report findings, TIGTA made six recommendations to the IRS, including: providing the necessary level of business unit support to the FIT; establishing performance goals and metrics for the annual FIT program; and, implementing the environment comparison and synchronization process between the FIT program’s test environment and the filing season environment. The IRS is planning on taking actions to adhere to these recommendations.
Integration testing is a critical component to the IRS’ tax processing computer system, as frequent updates to the complex software could impact its functionality. TIGTA’s report shows the IRS has some adjustment to make before the system is fully prepared for the 2014 Filing Season.