The Government is authorized and required to make inquiries, determinations, and assessments of all taxes that have not been duly paid. Unpaid assessments result from taxpayers filing returns without sufficient payment, as well as enforcement programs such as examination, under-reporter, substitute for return and combined annual wage reporting. Assessments with little or no future collection potential are called write-offs. Although compliance assessments and write-offs are not considered receivables under Federal accounting standards, they represent legally enforceable claims of the Government. There is, however, a significant difference in the collection potential between compliance assessments and receivables.
Compliance assessments and pre-assessment work in process are $89.6 billion and $105.0 billion for fiscal years 2012 and 2011, respectively. The amount of allowance for uncollectible amounts pertaining to compliance assessments cannot be reasonably estimated, and thus the net realizable value of the value of the pre-assessment work-in-process cannot be determined. The amount of assessments agencies have statutory authority to collect at the end of the period but that have been written off and excluded from accounts receivable are $125.1 billion and $106.6 billion for fiscal years 2012 and 2011, respectively.