11.5.3  Guide to Congressional Correspondence

Manual Transmittal

March 02, 2012

Purpose

(1) This transmits updated IRM 11.5.3, Legislative Affairs, Guide to Congressional Correspondence.

Material Changes

(1) We have updated the Procedures At-a-Glance in Exhibit 11.5.3–17.

Effect on Other Documents

This supersedes IRM 11.5.3 dated November 01, 2010.

Audience

All IRS Offices

Effective Date

(03-02-2012)

Floyd L. Williams
Director, Office of Legislative Affairs

11.5.3.1  (11-01-2010)
Congressional Correspondence and Quality Review Branch (the Branch)

  1. The Branch, located within Legislative Affairs, is responsible for assigning, monitoring, and reviewing all congressional correspondence addressed to the Director, Legislative Affairs or the IRS Commissioner.

  2. The Branch acts as a liaison with all Operating Divisions on congressional correspondence issues to ensure we respond to Members of the Congress within prescribed timeframes and in a way that meets the needs of the Members and their staffs.

  3. The Branch uses the Inventory Tracking System (e-trak) to assign congressional inquires to the e-trak coordinators in the Operating Divisions (OD). The coordinators assign the inquiries to the offices within their organization that are best equipped to answer them. We call this office the assignment office.

  4. The e-trak control is the document the system creates in response to the incoming letter. It includes a document number that is used to track and update the status of a control.

  5. The Branch also uses e-trak to assign and track congressional inquires that the Treasury Department refers to us for a response either to the constituent or to the Member.

  6. The Branch reviews the responses to these inquiries. We also review responses to letters, regardless of addressee, if they concern specific issues of interest to the Commissioner or if they are from Chairmen or Ranking Members serving on committees of special interest to the IRS.

  7. The Branch uses established quality standards when reviewing congressional correspondence. See IRM 11.5.3.5.1. (Legislative Affairs Review of Responses). See IRM 11.5.3.9.1. (Writing Tips)

11.5.3.1.1  (11-01-2010)
e-trak Coordinator Responsibilities

  1. The e-trak Coordinator in each OD receives notification of controlled assignments through Outlook mail. The Outlook mailbox also contains important information on e-trak system changes, upgrades, and procedures.

  2. Coordinators also input documents or comments into the system and update the status of controls for managers and analysts in the assignment office.

  3. The e-trak Coordinator should use e-trak to generate reports to track overdue controls assigned to the program areas. Managers in the assignment office should also receive these reports to help them track and monitor congressional correspondence. The system has a reports options menu that will allow you to generate reports from five different reports options:

    • My Inventory Report

    • Inventory by Analyst Report

    • Inventory Created by Report

    • Inventory by Case Type Report

    • Congressional Report

  4. Coordinators can use the e-trak Legacy System Reports menu to generate reports for ECMS cases older than 2005. You can refer to the e-trak User Guide or Website, http://itrak.enterprise.irs.gov:8886/, for additional information.

  5. Coordinators should contact the Branch with status updates on overdue controls or make sure they update the status in e-trak. They should contact the Branch to transfer a control outside their OD. They should also contact other coordinators when a response requires cross-functional coordination.

  6. Coordinators close controls in e-trak by associating the response with the incoming document. After the head of office signs the final document, scan a copy of the dated and signed response into e-trak. If you do not have a scanner, you can annotate the date signed on a Word document and attach the response to the e-trak control.

  7. If possible, the head of office should appoint a senior analyst or manager to track and monitor congressional correspondence in his or her OD.

11.5.3.1.2  (11-01-2010)
Reassigning a Control

  1. Occasionally, an office may have to reassign a control.

  2. If you are forwarding a letter to another office in your OD, contact the office you are forwarding the letter to before you reassign it. Make sure the receiving office will accept the control so that we do not delay the response.

  3. Reassign the control in e-trak; do not close it.

  4. If the receiving office cannot meet the response due date, it must make interim contact with the congressional office. See IRM 11.5.3.4. (Extending the Due Date of a Control)

  5. If you need to transfer a control outside your OD, contact the Branch at (202) 622-3730.

11.5.3.1.3  (11-01-2010)
Documenting e-trak

  1. Updating e-trak with a status of the control is very important. Document every contact with the constituent or the Member using the "Events Log" or by scanning a written summary of the contact in the "Documentation" field. Whenever possible, you should include the name and phone number of the person preparing the response. The Branch uses this information to respond to congressional staff when they call to check the status of an inquiry. If you do not have access to e-trak, please have your e-trak coordinator input this information for you.

11.5.3.1.4  (11-01-2010)
Telephone Responses

  1. You can answer some congressional inquiries with a telephone response. Only a senior analyst, who has an in-depth knowledge of the response, or the Head of Office should make the telephone call.

  2. You must ask the Member's representative if the telephone call is adequate. If he or she asks for something in writing, prepare a follow up letter that summarizes the telephone conversation.

  3. If you close the control by telephone conversation, you can do one of the following:

    • Document the call in "Events Log"

    • Write a summary of the phone call and scan it into e-trak

    • Write a summary of the phone call and attach the Word file

    Include the following information:

    • Date of call

    • Name of person who made the call

    • Name of person who took the call in the congressional office

    • A brief summary of the call

    • A statement indicating the Member's staff person was satisfied with a telephone call

11.5.3.1.5  (11-01-2010)
Written Responses

  1. Most congressional inquires require a written response.

  2. Usually we respond directly to the member, either at the Washington, DC office or a local office as the member specifies in his or her cover letter.

  3. If the member asks us to reply directly to his or her constituent, we do so unless it would create a disclosure problem.

  4. Signature Level: The signature level for congressional correspondence should be no lower than head of office at the office director level, except for Chief Counsel replies. Routine Chief Counsel responses can use the branch chief signature level. See Exhibit 11.5.3-16.

  5. The Commissioner usually signs letters to Chairmen of any committee when they write in their capacity as Chairmen on committee letterhead. The Commissioner also signs letters to Ranking Members when they write in their capacity as Ranking Members on committee letterhead. However, some exceptions do occur.

  6. When a letter is for the Treasury Secretary's, Commissioner's, Deputy Commissioner's, or Operating Division Commissioner's signature, the Branch will note the signature level on the e-trak control in the "Topic" field.

    Note:

    If you are uncertain whether the Commissioner should sign a response, please call the Branch at (202) 622-3730.

  7. You must clear your draft response through the Branch before you mail it to the congressional office. See IRM 11.5.3.5.1. (Legislative Affairs Review of Responses). See IRM 11.5.3.9.1. (Writing Tips)

11.5.3.2  (06-01-2007)
Categories of Congressional Correspondence

  1. The Branch monitors four types of correspondence: LA Tracking Controls, Treasury Executive Secretariat Referrals, Treasury Legislative Affairs Referrals, and Routine Congressional Correspondence.

11.5.3.2.1  (06-01-2007)
Legislative Affairs (LA) Tracking Controls

  1. The Branch closely monitors controls designated "LA Tracking." These include letters for the Treasury Secretary's, Commissioner's, or Deputy Commissioner's signature. LA Tracking letters are from key Members or congressional committees of interest to the IRS. They may also be letters from any Member on topics of special interest to the Commissioner. The Branch includes procedures for handling these controls in the "Special Instructions" field. The "LA Tracking" designation appears in the "Case Type" and "Topic" fields.

11.5.3.2.2  (06-01-2007)
Treasury Executive Secretariat and Treasury Legislative Affairs Referrals

  1. Treasury Department referrals require special handling. These letters can come from the Treasury Executive Secretariat or Treasury Legislative Affairs. The Branch will designate signature level and other special procedures for these controls in the "Special Instructions" field. A "Treasury Referral" designation also appears in the "Topic" and "Case Type" fields.

11.5.3.2.3  (06-01-2007)
Routine Congressional Correspondence

  1. Most of the congressional correspondence we receive is routine. The Branch monitors this correspondence and contacts assignment offices for status reports as controls near or pass the assigned due date.

11.5.3.3  (11-01-2010)
Time Frames for Responding to Congressional Inquiries

  1. The various types of correspondence controlled in e-trak have different due dates, levels of review, and signature levels. See Exhibit 11.5.3-17.

11.5.3.3.1  (06-01-2007)
LA Tracking Correspondence

  1. The Branch will note the date your response is due to us for review on the special handling instructions that we include with LA tracking controls. These responses typically have a faster turn around time than a routine congressional inquiry.

11.5.3.3.2  (11-01-2010)
Treasury Executive Secretariat Referrals

  1. The assignment office has three business days from the date Treasury assigns the case to IRS to get a signed response. Because of the sensitive nature of these controls, the assignment office should make every effort to meet the due date of the response.

11.5.3.3.3  (06-01-2007)
Treasury Legislative Affairs Referrals

  1. The assignment office has 10 business days from the date Treasury assigns the case to IRS to get a signed response.

11.5.3.3.4  (11-01-2010)
Routine Congressional Inquiries

  1. The assignment office has 15 business days from the date the Branch controls the document in e-trak to draft a response and send it to the Branch for review. The congressional office must receive a response to its inquiry within 20 days of its assignment in e-trak. Please allow five days for:

    • Legislative Affairs review

    • Document corrections

    • Designated office signature

    • Faxing and mailing to the congressional office

11.5.3.4  (11-01-2010)
Extending the Due Date of a Control

  1. You must get an extension on the due date of the control if you cannot meet the original deadline.

  2. The various types of congressional correspondence controlled in e-trak have different procedures for obtaining due date extensions and contacting the congressional office. In all cases, someone must make an interim contact with the congressional office. The interim contact can be a telephone call or a letter. See Exhibit 11.5.3-17.

11.5.3.4.1  (11-01-2010)
LA Tracking Controls

  1. When requesting an extension for a congressional marked "LA Tracking," please contact Mary Dash at (202) 622-6833 or Marcie Williams at (202) 622-5197.

  2. The Branch will make the interim contact with the congressional office and update e-trak with the new due date. You will receive notification of the new due date through an Outlook mail message.

11.5.3.4.2  (06-01-2007)
Treasury Executive Secretariat Referrals

  1. The Treasury Executive Secretariat no longer grants extensions.

  2. The assignment office must make every effort to meet the due date.

11.5.3.4.3  (11-01-2010)
Treasury Legislative Affairs Referrals

  1. When requesting an extension for Treasury Legislative Affairs correspondence, please contact the Branch at (202) 622-3730. We will contact Treasury on your behalf to arrange a new due date.

  2. The Branch updates e-trak with a new due date. You will receive notification of the new due date through an Outlook mail message.

  3. If the Branch designates the Treasury Referral as LA Tracking, please follow the special instructions included with the e-trak control.

11.5.3.4.4  (11-01-2010)
Routine Congressional Correspondence

  1. Before extending the due date on routine correspondence, you must contact the congressional office to let them know when they can expect a response. You make this contact either by telephone or letter, unless the e-trak control says to contact the Branch.

    Note:

    The congressional office does not extend the e-trak control due date. Your telephone call or letter is a customer service action to let the congressional office know when they can expect a response. Be positive in your explanation of the delay. If the congressional office says the situation is urgent, we should try to assist and accommodate that need if possible.

    1. If you make a phone call, a senior analyst, who has in-depth knowledge of the response, or the head of office should contact the congressional office within 15 days of the date the Branch assigns the control and provide the following: the reason for the delay in responding, the date the Member can expect a response, and the name and phone number of the person to contact about the response.

    2. If you choose to write a letter, send it to the Branch for review unless we have approved a standard letter for use in your office. The letter should include: the reason for the delay in responding, the date the Member can expect a response, and the name and phone number of the person to contact about the response

    3. The Branch will review the letter and return it with edits, if needed.

    4. The assignment office makes the edits and mails or faxes the signed response to the congressional office.

    5. The assignment office updates e-trak by scanning the interim response into the system or by writing a summary of the telephone conversation in the e-trak "Events" Log. The summary must include: the name of the person in the congressional office you spoke to, the date of your call, a summary of the conversation, including the new due date and the name, title, office symbols, and telephone number of the person requesting the extension.

    6. The assignment office enters the new due date in the Due Date field of the e-trak control. The new due date should not exceed 30 business days. Discuss longer extensions with the Branch.

11.5.3.4.5  (06-01-2007)
Other Agency Referrals

  1. If you receive a letter that warrants referral to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) or another U.S. government agency, write a referral letter to that agency and draft a cover letter to the congressional office to send with a copy of the referral.

  2. Send the cover letter to the Branch for review.

  3. The Branch will review the letter and return it with edits, if needed.

  4. Do not tell the congressional office to write to another agency. As a courtesy, we forward the Member's letter to the appropriate agency.

  5. Make sure your letter includes a contact name, phone number, and address for the agency you are referring it to.

11.5.3.5  (11-01-2010)
Procedures for Clearance and Routing

  1. The Branch will annotate the e-trak control under "Special Instructions" if a response requires Legislative Affairs review. The Branch may also ask to review letters on topics of special interest to the Commissioner that the field offices receive and control.

  2. To clear a draft response through the Branch, fax the response and the incoming letters to Mary Dash at (202) 927-9613. Do not e-mail drafts unless specifically requested as part of the process for clearing LA tracking letters. See Exhibit 11.5.3-17.

11.5.3.5.1  (06-01-2007)
Legislative Affairs Review of Responses

  1. Legislative Affairs will review the response for:

    • Responsiveness: Did we answer the questions? Is the response timely?

    • Clarity: Is the answer or message up front and not buried in the document? Is the letter easy to understand?

    • Tone: Is the tone defensive or arrogant? Is an apology needed? For example, we are late in responding. Is the apology up front and appropriate for the situation?

    • Consistency: Have we written other letters on the same topic? Are the answers among these letters consistent?

    • Mechanics: Is the format correct? Are the grammar and punctuation correct?

  2. If the review staff recommends a change that affects the technical or legal accuracy of the document, please contact the Branch to discuss alternative ways to phrase the response.

  3. The Branch returns all documents submitted for review within 48 hours of receipt unless a document needs additional information or clarification. If you do not receive your document or a phone call within 48 hours, please contact Mary Dash at (202) 622-6833 or Marcie Williams at (202) 622-5197.

11.5.3.5.2  (11-01-2010)
Clearing LA Tracking Letters Through Legislative Affairs

  1. Follow these instructions for responding to congressional correspondence (designated as LA Tracking letters) that the Treasury Secretary, the Commissioner, or Deputy Commissioners will sign:

    • When you receive the assignment, please call Marcie Williams at (202) 622-5197 and let her know the name and phone number of the person writing the response.

    • Check the "Topic" field of the e-trak control to see if the response is for the Treasury Secretary's, Commissioner's, or Deputy Commissioner's signature.

    • Draft your response and fax it along with the incoming letter from the Member (and constituent, if applicable) to Mary Dash at (202) 927-9613.

    • The Branch will review your letter and return it to you with edits, if needed.

    • Make all edits noted on your document. If you have questions or concerns with any of the edits, please call Mary Dash at (202) 622-6833 or Marcie Williams at (202) 622-5197.

    • Use the Staff Summary Sheet (Form 12956) to route the correspondence for approval through your management chain up to the Operating Division Commissioner level or Chief Officer level, as appropriate. On the Staff Summary Sheet below your management chain, please add: Director, Office of Legislative Affairs; Deputy Commissioner, Services and Enforcement or Deputy Commissioner, Operations; Chief of Staff; and Commissioner.

    • When you complete your review and routing of the correspondence, fax the signed Staff Summary Sheet to Mary Dash at (202) 927-9613. Also, e-mail the letter file to both Mary.L.Dash@irs.gov and Marcie.V.Williams@irs.gov. If your letter contains enclosures, also e-mail them. If you cannot e-mail the enclosures, please call Mary Dash or Marcie Williams for guidance.

  2. The Branch will create the signature package using your signed Staff Summary Sheet and obtain signatures for Director, Office of Legislative Affairs; Deputy Commissioner, Services and Enforcement or Deputy Commissioner, Operations; Chief of Staff; and Commissioner.

  3. The Branch will monitor the correspondence, update e-trak, and coordinate any changes requested by Director, Office of Legislative Affairs; Deputy Commissioner, Services and Enforcement or Deputy Commissioner, Operations; Chief of Staff; and/or the Commissioner with your office.

11.5.3.5.3  (11-01-2010)
Clearing Treasury Executive Secretariat and Treasury Legislative Affairs Referrals Through IRS Legislative Affairs

  1. Most responses to Treasury Referrals are for the head of office signature level and follow the same clearance procedures as the routine congressional inquiries.

  2. Update e-trak and assign the control to Communications and Liaison using the "Inventory" field. Fax the following documents to (202) 927-9613:

    • Draft response

    • Incoming letter from the Member and the constituent

    • e-trak control ticket (or write the e-trak control number on the fax cover sheet)

  3. Generally, the Branch does not accept e-mail responses for review because if the recipient on the review staff is out of the office, your response will not receive a timely review.

  4. You do not need to send a complete signature package for review. You can send a draft response with the incoming documents. National Office employees can also deliver their documents for review to the "LOGIN" box in Room 3236.

  5. The Branch will review your correspondence and call you to pick up your documents or fax them back to you. Generally, you do not need to resubmit your document after making the changes. At the end of the workday, the Branch will reassign in e-trak all approved correspondence back to the originator. Please do not close a control before the head of office signs the response.

  6. The Branch will notate your document if we need to see it for a second review. When you send your document for a second review, also send the original edits and note "Second Review" on your fax cover sheet or on the document. At the end of the workday, the Branch will reassign all approved correspondence back to the originator.

11.5.3.5.4  (11-01-2010)
Clearing Routine Congressional Correspondence Through Legislative Affairs

  1. Update e-trak and assign the control to Communications and Liaison using the "Inventory" field. Fax the following documents to (202) 927-9613:

    • Draft response

    • Incoming letter from the Member and the constituent

    • e-trak control ticket (or write the e-trak control number on the fax cover sheet)

  2. Generally, the Branch does not accept e-mail responses for review because if the recipient on the review staff is out of the office, your response will not receive a timely review.

  3. You do not need to send a complete signature package for review. You can send a draft response with the incoming documents. National Office employees can also deliver their documents for review to the "LOGIN" box in Room 3236.

  4. The Branch will review your correspondence and call you to pick up your documents or fax them back to you. At the end of the workday, the Branch will reassign in e-trak all approved correspondence back to the originator. Please do not close a control before the head of office signs the response.

  5. The Branch will notate your document if we need to see it for a second review. When you send your document for a second review, also send the original edits and note "Second Review" on your fax cover sheet or on the document. At the end of the workday, the Branch will reassign all approved correspondence back to the originator.

11.5.3.5.5  (06-01-2007)
Preparing a Signature Package

  1. After your response has cleared the Branch, prepare a signature package, including an "Official File Copy" of the response and other copies as directed by your program office. The Official File Copy must contain Form 12956, Staff Summary Sheet.

  2. Proper assembly of a signature package will make the final review and signature process go more smoothly (See IRM 1.10.1.5 - Commissioner of Internal Revenue Correspondence - Signature Package Assembly).

11.5.3.6  (11-22-2010)
Closing e-trak Controls

  1. If you do not have access to e-trak, your e-trak coordinator can close the control for you.

  2. Generally, you should not close an e-trak control if your response is incomplete. Contact the Branch if you are uncertain whether you should close a control because of unanswered questions or unresolved issues.

  3. Do not close a control until the Branch has reassigned the correspondence back to you and the head of office has signed the response.

  4. The procedures for closing a control depend on the type of correspondence. See Exhibit 11.5.3-17.

11.5.3.6.1  (03-03-2012)
LA Tracking Correspondence

  1. The Branch will deliver or mail the signed letter to the congressional office and close the e-trak control by scanning the signed response on letterhead into the system.

  2. The Branch will reassign the closed control back to the office that prepared the response so that they have access to the final response.

11.5.3.6.2  (03-03-2012)
Treasury Executive Secretariat and Treasury Legislative Affairs Referrals

  1. Generally, the office preparing the response closes the control in e-trak. After the head of office signs and dates the final response, scan the signed response on letterhead into e-trak and close the control. If you do not have a scanner, close the control by attaching the Word document to it and fax the signed and dated response on letterhead to Legislative Affairs at (202) 622-3048.

  2. The office preparing the response also mails, faxes, or delivers the signed letter to the congressional office. Because of delays in mail delivery, we strongly recommend that you fax your response to the congressional office if a fax number is available. Follow up with a hard copy of the response sent through the mail.

  3. The Branch will forward the signed letter to the Treasury Secretariat or Treasury Legislative Affairs.

  4. The Treasury Department will not accept copies of unsigned letters to close a control.

11.5.3.6.3  (03-03-2012)
Routine Congressional Correspondence

  1. The office preparing the response closes the control in e-trak. After the head of office signs and dates the final response, either scan the signed response on letterhead into e-trak or attach the Word document to the e-trak control ticket and close the case.

  2. The office preparing the response also mails, faxes, or delivers the signed letter to the congressional office. Because of delays in mail delivery, we strongly recommend that you fax your response to the congressional office if a fax number is available. Follow up with a hard copy of the response sent through the mail.

11.5.3.7  (06-01-2007)
Disclosure Information for Congressional Correspondence

  1. Members of Congress have access to tax information under section 6103 (c) of the Internal Revenue Code (the Code) as a designee of a constituent taxpayer or under section 6103 (f) of the Code as a member of a tax writing committee of Congress.

11.5.3.7.1  (06-01-2007)
Disclosure to Members of the Congress

  1. Members in their individual capacity are entitled to no greater access to returns or return information than any other person inquiring about the tax affairs of a third party.

  2. The IRS can only disclose returns and return information to a taxpayer's designee, including a Member inquiring on behalf of a constituent, in accordance with section 6103 of the Code.

  3. Generally, section 6103 of the Code protects returns and return information from disclosure unless the taxpayer provides a written request or authorization.

11.5.3.7.2  (06-01-2007)
Types of Authorizations

  1. Disclosure laws apply to congressional inquiries; however, the laws governing disclosure authorization for Members of Congress permit some flexibility in the types of written authorization we can accept.

  2. The written authorization from the taxpayer, or any person with a material interest, does not have to be a Power of Attorney or any specific form, although Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, may be used for this purpose. See IRM 11.3.3, Disclosure to Designees and Practitioners, for additional information on disclosure of information to third parties.

  3. The following forms of authorization allow us to disclose tax information:

    • Signed letter from the taxpayer to the Member authorizing the IRS to disclose specific information; for example, the constituent can authorize the Member to inquire about a liability for a specific tax year.

    • Power of Attorney (POA) signed by the taxpayer authorizing the Member to receive tax return information on his or her behalf.

    • Congressional Authorization Form signed by the taxpayer authorizing the Member and his or her staff to obtain information to assist that taxpayer. All Congressional offices provide these forms under the Privacy Act of 1974.

    • Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, signed by the taxpayer.

  4. If the taxpayer does not provide an authorization form or letter, we can only provide general information. In your response, remind the Member of the disclosure requirements for providing returns or return information. See Exhibit 11.5.3-14. You can also contact the congressional office by telephone to find out if they want to get authorization from the taxpayer.

11.5.3.7.3  (06-01-2007)
Special Authorizations

  1. Upon written request and only for use in closed executive session, we can provide information that can identify or be associated with a particular taxpayer to:

    • The Chairman of the House Committee on Ways and Means

    • The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Finance

    • The Chairman of the Joint Committee on Taxation

  2. You can also provide information to other committees specifically authorized to inspect returns or return information by a resolution of the Senate or House of Representatives. For a joint committee (other than the Joint Committee on Taxation), the authorization requires a concurrent resolution by both the Senate and House of Representatives. The request for the information must be in writing.

11.5.3.7.4  (06-01-2007)
Review of Letter Authorization

  1. The taxpayer or authorized representative must address the letter to the Member or to his or her staff. An authorization is not adequate if the taxpayer addresses the letter with "Dear Sir/Madam:" If the letter is a courtesy copy of a letter from the taxpayer to another Member, we can only provide information if the taxpayer attached a signed addendum requesting the assistance of the Member he or she copied on the original letter.

  2. The taxpayer must sign and date the letter. A typed name does not authorize the disclosure of taxpayer information.

  3. The letter must contain enough facts to determine the exact information or service requested. You must limit your response to the situation described by the taxpayer.

  4. If the request to the Member is from a third party (an attorney or Certified Public Accountant), you can provide information if you have a POA from the taxpayer on file. The request must authorize us to disclose tax information to the third party POA on the taxpayer's behalf. Third parties cannot authorize access to a client's tax return information without a POA.

  5. If the Member does not enclose a copy of the taxpayer's correspondence or authorization, you must write directly to the taxpayer. You should give the Member general information only and tell him or her you will work directly with the taxpayer.

11.5.3.7.5  (06-01-2007)
Confidentiality and Disclosure of Returns and Return Information

  1. Please see IRM 11.3.4 Disclosure of Official Information - Congressional Inquiries for more information on disclosure of returns and return information.

11.5.3.8  (06-01-2007)
Format for Congressional Correspondence

  1. Congressional correspondence contains Standard Elements and Variable Elements depending on the unique circumstances of the inquiry.

11.5.3.8.1  (06-01-2007)
Standard Elements

  1. All congressional correspondence must conform to these standard format elements.

11.5.3.8.1.1  (06-01-2007)
Font and Type

  1. Use Arial font, size 12

11.5.3.8.1.2  (06-01-2007)
Date

  1. Center the date on the page three lines below the printed letterhead.

  2. Do not date the letter before signature. The signing official's office will date it.

11.5.3.8.1.3  (06-01-2007)
Inside Addresses and Salutations

  1. Begin the address at least eight lines below the letterhead on the left margin. If the letter is short, you can come down a few more lines to create a more balanced appearance. However, do not exceed 12 lines.

  2. Use single space, block left.

  3. If a line is too long, such as "Member, U.S. House of Representatives," carry over part of the line to the next line and indent two spaces.

  4. After the state abbreviation, space twice before the zip code.

    Example:

    The Honorable John Smith
    Member, U.S. House of
    Representatives
    P.O. Box 000
    Anywhere, VA 22222-000

11.5.3.8.1.4  (06-01-2007)
Salutation

  1. Double space (one blank line) the salutation below the address, flush with the left margin. For the salutation, type "Dear (Title) (Last Name):"

11.5.3.8.1.5  (06-01-2007)
Formats for Inside Addresses and Salutations

  1. The letter from the Member usually specifies the address to use to send your reply. Sometimes the Member asks us to respond directly to his or her constituent or to a local office address. Respond as directed unless doing so creates a disclosure problem. If an address includes both the street address and a P.O. Box, use the P.O. Box.

  2. The salutation depends on whether the Member is from the House of Representatives or the Senate. It also depends on whether you are replying to the Washington, DC office or to a local office address.

11.5.3.8.1.6  (06-01-2007)
Senate Address Formats & Salutations

  1. The following are examples of Senate addresses and salutations:

    • Senate - Washington, DC Office, See Exhibit 11.5.3-1.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      United States Senate
      Washington, DC 20510

      Dear Senator (Last Name):

    • Senate - Local Office, See Exhibit 11.5.3-2.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      United States Senator
      (Street Address)
      (City) (State) (Zip Code)

      Dear Senator (Last Name):

    • Chairman - Senate Committee, See Exhibit 11.5.3-3.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      Chairman/Chair, Committee on (Name)
      United States Senate
      Washington, DC 20510

      Dear Mr. Chairman/Madam Chair:

      Note:

      You can also place "Chairman" or "Chair" on the line by itself. Make your decision based on the format that gives the inside address the most balanced appearance. If you place the committee name on the same line as "Chairman" , and the committee name is long, carry over part of it to the next line and indent two spaces. A female committee chair has several options for the inside address and salutation. The option she chooses is a personal preference. Some prefer "Chair" in the inside address with a salutation of "Dear Madam Chair" . Others prefer "Chairman" and the salutation "Dear Madam Chairman" . Please contact the Branch at (202) 622-3730 for guidance.

    • Chairman - Senate Subcommittee, See Exhibit 11.5.3-4.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      Chairman/Chair, Subcommittee on (Name)
      Committee on (Name)
      United States Senate
      Washington, DC 20510

      Dear Mr. Chairman:

      Note:

      You can also place "Chairman" or "Chair" on the line by itself. Make your decision based on the format that gives the inside address the most balanced appearance. If you place the committee name on the same line as "Chairman" , and the committee name is long, carry over part of it to the next line and indent two spaces. A female committee chair has several options for the inside address and salutation. The option she chooses is a personal preference. Some prefer "Chair" in the inside address with a salutation of "Dear Madam Chair" . Others prefer "Chairman" and the salutation "Dear Madam Chairman" . Please contact the Branch at (202) 622-3730 for guidance.

    • Ranking Member - Senate Committee, See Exhibit 11.5.3-5.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      Ranking Member
      Committee on (Name)
      United States Senate
      Washington, DC 20510

      Dear Senator (Last Name):

    • Ranking Member - Senate Subcommittee, See Exhibit 11.5.3-6.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      Ranking Member
      Subcommittee on (Name)
      Committee on (Name)
      United States Senate
      Washington, DC 20510

      Dear Senator (Last Name):

11.5.3.8.1.7  (06-01-2007)
House of Representatives Formats & Salutations

  1. The following are examples of House of Representative addresses and salutations:

    • House of Representatives - Washington, DC Office, See Exhibit 11.5.3-7.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      U.S. House of Representatives
      Washington, DC 20515

      Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. (Last Name):

    • House of Representatives - Local Office, See Exhibit 11.5.3-8.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      Member, U.S. House of Representatives
      (Street address)
      (City) (State) (Zip Code)

      Dear Congressman/Congresswoman (Last Name):

      Note:

      If the Member, U.S. House of Representatives is too long, carry over part of it to the next line and indent two spaces. This will give the inside address a more balanced appearance

    • Chairman - House Committee, See Exhibit 11.5.3-9.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      Chairman/Chair, Committee on (Name)
      U.S. House of Representatives
      Washington, DC 20515

      Dear Mr. Chairman/Madam Chair:

      Note:

      You can also place "Chairman" or "Chair" on the line by itself. Make your decision based on the format that gives the inside address the most balanced appearance. If you place the committee name on the same line as "Chairman" , and the committee name is long, carry over part of it to the next line and indent two spaces. A female committee chair has several options for the inside address and salutation. The option she chooses is a personal preference. Some prefer "Chair" in the inside address with a salutation of "Dear Madam Chair" . Others prefer "Chairman" and the salutation "Dear Madam Chairman" . Please contact the Branch at (202) 622-3730 for guidance.

    • Chairman - House Subcommittee, See Exhibit 11.5.3-10.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      Chairman/Chair, Subcommittee on (Name)
      Committee on (Name)
      U.S. House of Representatives
      Washington, DC 20515

      Dear Mr. Chairman/Madam Chair:

      Note:

      You can also place "Chairman" or "Chair" on the line by itself. Make your decision based on the format that gives the inside address the most balanced appearance. If you place the committee name on the same line as "Chairman" , and the committee name is long, carry over part of it to the next line and indent two spaces. A female committee chair has several options for the inside address and salutation. The option she chooses is a personal preference. Some prefer "Chair" in the inside address with a salutation of "Dear Madam Chair" . Others prefer "Chairman" and the salutation "Dear Madam Chairman" . Please contact the Branch at (202) 622-3730 for guidance.

    • Ranking Member - House Committee, See Exhibit 11.5.3-11.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      Ranking Member
      Committee on (Name)
      U.S. House of Representatives
      Washington, DC 20515

      Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs. (Last Name):

    • Ranking Member - House Subcommittee, See Exhibit 11.5.3-12.

      Example:

      The Honorable (Full Name)
      Ranking Member
      Subcommittee on (Name)
      Committee on (Name)
      U.S. House of Representatives
      Washington, DC 20515

      Dear Mr./Ms./Mrs. (Last Name):

11.5.3.8.1.8  (06-01-2007)
Body of the Letter

  1. The body of the letter begins with a double space below the salutation. The letter is block style on the left margin. Do not indent paragraphs.

  2. Be sure to include a closing paragraph, such as "If you have any questions, please contact me at (000) 000-0000 or (name) at (000) 000-0000." If your response is to a taxpayer, RRA 98 requires you to include the identification number of the contact person. As a courtesy, we always offer the Member the option of calling the person who signs the letter.

11.5.3.8.1.9  (06-01-2007)
Complimentary Closing

  1. The standard complimentary closing is "Sincerely," .

  2. Begin the left side of the complimentary closing at the center of the page, double-spaced below the body of the letter.

11.5.3.8.1.10  (06-01-2007)
Signature Block

  1. The left side of the signature block, name and title of the individual signing the letter, begins at the center of the page and is four lines (hit the enter key five times) below the complimentary closing of the letter. Do not type the title below the name if the title is on the letterhead.

11.5.3.8.2  (06-01-2007)
Variable Elements

  1. Some congressional letters may require the following variable elements depending on the nature of the inquiry.

11.5.3.8.2.1  (06-01-2007)
Attention Line

  1. Use an attention line when the Member refers to a staffer who is handling the inquiry.

  2. Double space the attention line after the inside address and type: "Attention: (Full Name)" flush with the left margin. Insert two spaces after the colon. Write out the word "Attention" . Double space below the attention line to begin the salutation. See Exhibit 11.5.3-15.

    Example:

    The Honorable John Smith
    Member, U.S. House of
    Representatives
    P.O. Box 000
    Anywhere, VA 22222-000
    one blank line
    Attention: Mrs. Jane Doe
    one blank line
    Dear Congressman Smith:

11.5.3.8.2.2  (06-01-2007)
Succeeding Pages

  1. If your letter has more than one page, center page numbers (no dashes) at the one inch top margin, approximately five lines from the top of the page. Do not number the first page. Begin numbering with page two. Triple space (two blank lines)after the page number and begin the first line of text. This is the default on many systems when you use the automated numbering option. Use the same font for page numbers as in the body of the letter.

11.5.3.8.2.3  (06-01-2007)
Enclosures

  1. You must identify your enclosure(s) in the body of the letter. For example, "You can find the guidelines in Publication 15 (copy enclosed)." or "I have enclosed a copy of Publication 15."

  2. If you include one enclosure with the letter, type "Enclosure" flush with the left margin, double spaced below the signature block.

  3. If you include multiple enclosures, type "Enclosures" followed by the number of enclosures in parentheses; for example, "Enclosures (2)" .

  4. Use one space between Enclosures and the opening parentheses. Do not type "As stated." Do not list the enclosures at the end of the document.

11.5.3.8.2.4  (06-01-2007)
Courtesy Copy

  1. When a Member asks you to respond directly to his or her constituent, you must send a cover letter to the Member and enclose a copy of the letter to the constituent if the taxpayer authorizes the Member to receive it. See Exhibit 11.5.3-13.

  2. Clear the letter to the constituent and the letter to the Member through the Branch. Even when you address the letter to the constituent, it is still a congressional inquiry.

  3. Notate the "Enclosure" or "Enclosures ( ) (number of enclosures in the document)" on the cover letter to the Member.

  4. On the letter to the constituent, type "cc: The Honorable (Full Name)" two lines below the signature block or enclosure notation, flush with the left margin.

  5. If the Member asks us to reply to the attention of a specific person in his or her office, put "Attention:" and the name of the person on the line below the Member's name.

    Example:


    cc: The Honorable (Full Name)
       Attention: (Full Name)

11.5.3.8.2.5  (06-01-2007)
Envelope

  1. Type the attention line within the address on the envelope. The Postal Service's automated scanners cannot read information placed below the city, state, and zip code line. The Postal Service guidelines recommend no commas or periods on the envelope.

    Example:

    The Honorable John Smith
    Member US House of Representatives
    Attention: Mrs Jane Doe
    PO Box 000
    Anywhere VA 22222-000

  2. Because of delays in mail delivery, we recommend that you fax your response to the congressional office if a fax number is available. Follow-up with a hard copy of the response sent through the mail.

11.5.3.9  (06-01-2007)
Writing Tips

  1. When we review your letter, we look at it for:

    • Content

    • Organization

    • Format

11.5.3.9.1  (06-01-2007)
Content

  1. Does the letter have a positive tone?
    The tone of the message is the feeling created by the style or manner of expression the writer uses. The tone of your communication tells the reader your attitude toward him or her and the subject being discussed. Conveying a genuine interest in your reader in both favorable and unfavorable messages is important in creating a positive tone.

    You can improve the tone of your letters by using positive language. Positive language places emphasis on the good instead of the bad. Positive writing is clearer and more confident. It uses pronouns to establish a personal, human tone. It sounds conversational, not bureaucratic.

    Example:



    Negative - Don't hesitate to call us if you have questions.
    Positive - Please call us if you have questions.

    Negative - Your order cannot be filled right now.
    Positive- We will ship your order by December 1.

    Negative - You complained about the treatment you received from one of our customer service representatives (CSR). However, you failed to provide the CSR’s name or identification number.
    Positive - I am sorry you received such poor service. If you can provide the name or identification number of the customer service representative who you spoke with, we will follow up on your complaint.



    Your choice of words also influences tone. Consider the emotional associations of the words you are using, in addition to their dictionary meaning. Avoid words that are likely to spark an emotional response. For example:

    What were the effects of missing the audit deadline?
    What was the aftermath of missing the audit deadline?
    What were the consequences of missing the audit deadline?

    Effects, aftermath, and consequences have the same basic meaning, but the feelings they convey are different. "Effects" is neutral; "aftermath" suggests negative, almost catastrophic results. "Consequences" also has a negative connotation. The word you choose will influence the tone of your message and affect your reader’s perception of the issue.

    Avoid using the word "concern" in the opening paragraph. Find a way to summarize the constituent's issues that does not use the phrase, "Mr. XXX expressed concern about..." Using this phrase often creates the mind set that the IRS has done something people need to be concerned about.

    Example:



    Don't Say, Mrs. XXX was concerned about the notice she received.
    Say, Mrs. XXX wrote because she received a notice.

  2. Is it written conversationally?
    Do not use long, unfamiliar words to impress your reader. Use simple, straightforward speech – that is, plain language - in your writing. You can achieve this straightforward tone by writing as you would speak. For example, when speaking with someone, You would say,"If you want to know how a tax law applies to your specific situation, you can request a letter ruling." Not,"A taxpayer seeking a determination regarding the application of the tax laws to his or her specific set of facts may submit a request for a letter ruling in accordance with the guidelines prescribed in Revenue Procedure 99-1."

    You can also use personal pronouns to create a friendly, conversational tone. Address the reader as "you" and avoid using the royal "we" when describing actions only one person carried out. Also, use the reader’s name in your letter instead of referring to him or her as "the taxpayer" or "your constituent."

    Example:


    Don’t say,"We hope this information is helpful in responding to your constituent." Say,"I hope this information is helpful in responding to Mr. XXX."

  3. Does it focus on the reader?
    Readers want to know what’s in it for them. The best way to get your reader’s attention is to understand the reader’s point of view and use this understanding to solve your reader’s problem or provide the needed information. Determine who your reader is by asking yourself:

    1. Who will read this?

    2. What questions will they want answered?

    3. What are their priorities? Concerns?

    4. How much explanation do they need?

    5. What is the minimum they need to know to do what they need to do?

    6. How should I present the information?

    Using these questions when you write a document helps you give the reader what he or she needs to know, not everything you know.

  4. Does it favor the active voice instead of the passive voice?
    In a passive voice sentence, the verb is more than one word, one of which is some form of "to be" (is, is being, am, are, was, were, will be, has or have been, had been, or will have been). Sentences written in the passive voice are longer and sound bureaucratic. Sentences written in the active voice are generally shorter and more direct. You should favor the active voice.

    Example:


    Passive: A decision was made to deny your claim by the Appeals Office.
    Active: The Appeals Office denied your claim.

    Passive: The corrective actions were initiated by our project office.
    Active: Our project office initiated the corrective actions.

    Passive: Computer programming changes have been made by Information Systems.
    Active: Information Systems made computer programming changes.




    Of course, occasionally, you may need to use the passive voice. If you wish to avoid a blunt accusation, if identifying the doer of the action is not important, or if you do not know who did the action, use the passive voice.

  5. Is the letter consistent with other letters we have answered on the same topic?

    We often receive a number of letters on the same topic. Upon receipt of an incoming document, the Branch conducts a summary level search of e-trak for controls written by, or on behalf of, the same constituent or on the same subject. If they find a related control, they enter the number of that control on the subject line. Save yourself some time and effort by asking your e-trak coordinator to print out related controls or conduct a more detailed search of the system for previous responses on the same topic. The system limits your search to your functional area because of system security restrictions; however, it is often worth the effort. Answering questions consistently helps establish credibility and confidence in our agency.

    During our review, we also check the response for consistency with agency policy. This may involve coordinating responses with testimony from recent hearings, GAO and TIGTA audit findings, and/or meetings and phone calls with Members of the Congress and their staffs.

  6. Is the language clear?

    Write so your reader can read your letter quickly and understand it the first time without having to think about the meaning of a word or expression. Avoid using specialized terms when you write to a reader who may not be familiar with them. For example:

    Instead of... Use ...
    pursuant to under
    preclude prevent
    accordingly so
    bifurcate divide
    utilization use
    transmit send

  7. Does the letter contain strong verbs?
    Verbs make your writing vivid and memorable. Many times we smother the verb inside a noun. It becomes smothered because by making it a noun, we take all the life out of the verb. Try to avoid overusing nouns in your documents. For example:

    Instead of... Use ...
    The IRS will make an announcement The IRS will announce
    The county made an adjustment The county adjusted
    We gave authorization We authorized
    She made reference to She referred to

  8. Does the letter use specific language?

    Use concrete words, not vague and abstract ones. Concrete words help us avoid misunderstanding; vague words pose more questions than they answer. When in doubt, readers will supply their own definitions and they may be far different than ours. For example:

    Vague... Specific ...
    fabricate lie, build, make
    evacuate leave, clear, empty
    implement enforce, fulfill, tool, carry out
    shortly, timely two weeks, 30 days (use the specific period of time)
    biweekly every other week, twice a week

  9. Does the letter avoid false subjects (or "warm-ups" )?
    We often start our sentences with words like, "It is, it was, there is, there was, and there were." These words displace the true subject of the sentence and add unnecessary words. For example:

    Instead of:
    It was the computer that caused the errors.
    Use:
    The computer caused the errors.

    Instead of:
    There are two reasons why we did not adjust your account.
    Use:
    We did not adjust your account because you did not sign your check and because our computer systems were down.
    Instead of:
    There are two topics that were discussed in the report on which we would like to comment.
    Use:
    We have comments on two topics discussed in the report.

  10. Does the letter contain redundancies?

    Redundant words get in the way of good communication. Using words that duplicate the message only makes your document longer, not stronger. Simplify your word usage as much as possible to make your writing clearer.

    Examples:  
    joint partnerships partnerships
    plan ahead plan
    attach together attach
    contributing factor factor

  11. Does the letter contain wordy phrases?

    Adding words does not necessarily add value to your documents. Eliminate wordy phrases and make every word count.

    Examples:  
    due to the fact that because
    in the majority of cases usually
    at a later date later
    in the amount of for
    as a general rule generally, usually

  12. Does the letter use too many modifiers or use them incorrectly?

    Modifiers are adjectives or adverbs used to enhance the main idea of a sentence. However, when you use them incorrectly, they can distort the meaning of a sentence. Some of the most common modifier errors include: too many modifiers in front of the noun, misplaced modifiers, dangling modifiers, and too many prepositional phrase modifiers. Here are some examples:


    Too many modifiers in front of the noun:

    Instead of:
    A waiver relieves a plan sponsor’s temporary financial hardship.
    Use:
    A waiver relieves the temporary financial hardship of a plan sponsor.

    Instead of:
    The National Research Program individual income tax reporting compliance study has several goals.
    Use:
    The National Research Program compliance study of individual income tax reporting has several goals.

    Instead of:
    We had to apply existing general federal tax law principles.
    Use:
    We had to apply general principles of federal tax law.

    Instead of:
    We have expanded the Form 1040 third party designee checkbox.
    Use:
    We expanded the Form 1040 checkbox for third party designees.


    Misplaced modifiers do not appear in their usual place in a sentence and are often misread by readers. For example:
    Not this:
    Explain how you qualify for expedited review of your application on the reverse side of this form.
    This:
    Explain on the reverse side of this form how you qualify for expedited review of your application.
    Not this:
    He spoke of a new offer agreement with the taxpayers in very positive terms.
    This:
    He spoke in very positive terms of a new offer agreement with the taxpayers.
    Not this:
    The Commissioner, in a speech before the Congress, asked for more funding for compliance efforts.
    This:
    In a speech before the Congress, the Commissioner asked for more funding for compliance efforts.


    Dangling modifiers do not seem to refer to anything in the sentence. They are often participial phrases that begin with a present participle verb (–ing) or a past participle verb (-ed). When you start a sentence with one of these verbs, make sure you follow it with the name of a person doing the action or you will have a dangling modifier. For example:

    Not this:
    After discussing the offer in compromise, the decision was made to deny it.
    This:
    After discussing the offer in compromise, the manager decided to deny it.
    Not this:
    Having no documentation to support the expenses, no deductions were allowed.
    This:
    Having no documentation to support the expenses, the revenue officer disallowed the deductions.
    Not this:
    To meet the deadline, all forms must be completed by May 15.
    This:
    To meet the deadline, you must complete all forms by May 15.


    Too many prepositional phrase modifiers:

    Not this:
    I apologize to Mr. Jones for the lack of acknowledgement of his inquiries.
    This:
    I apologize to Mr. Jones for not acknowledging his inquiries.
    Not this:
    You must file your amended return within a period of 12 months after the date of receipt of the refund.
    This:
    You must file your amended return within 12 months after receiving the refund.
    Not this:
    Because of the involvement of too many people in the audit process, the report was almost unreadable.
    This:
    Too many people were involved in the audit process, therefore, the report was almost unreadable.

11.5.3.9.2  (06-01-2007)
Organization

  1. Is the letter well organized? Does it answer the reader’s questions up front?

    People are reading your document to get answers, so organize it accordingly. Place the answer to the reader’s question as close to the introductory paragraph as possible. You should:

    • Give the answer

    • Explain the rationale


    Even if the answer is bad news for the reader, you should state it up front.

  2. Are the paragraphs well organized?

    Do the paragraphs contain a topic sentence? Are the rest of the sentences in the paragraph related to the topic sentence?

    Are the ideas within the paragraph arranged in a logical sequence? Do the sentences flow smoothly from one to the next?

  3. Are sentences and paragraphs brief?
    Studies have shown a correlation between sentence length and reader comprehension. The shorter the sentence, the easier it is to understand. As a rule of thumb, try to keep your sentences between 17 to 20 words. If you can’t remember and repeat the sentence after you have written it, it is probably too long. Paragraphs should generally be no longer than 6 sentences.

    You can make your sentences and paragraphs brief by omitting needless words. If a word or phrase doesn’t add meaning to your letter, eliminate it or trim it. For example:

    Instead of... Use ...
    in order to to
    in view of the foregoing given that
    for the purpose of for
    enclosed you will find enclosed is (are)
    please feel free to write please write

11.5.3.9.3  (06-01-2007)
Format

  1. Is the format of the letter reader friendly?

    • Does it use informative headings and subheadings? Headings in bold type help guide your reader through your document and highlight important points.

    • Does it use bulleted lists to highlight important information and help the reader understand the order in which things happen? Lists also add white space to your document, which gives the reader’s eyes a place to rest.

    • Does it use attachments? If you need to include additional information in your letter that goes beyond the scope of the writer's question, put it in an attachment or break it out under headings. This helps to simplify your response and highlight the additional information you are providing.

    • Does it include a contact name and phone number? All correspondence must contain a contact name and phone number in case the Member needs further information. If you are replying directly to a constituent, you must also include your identification number. In your letters, please refer to your badge number as "Identification Number xxxxx."

  2. Are style conventions followed?

    • Italicize the names of court cases, do not underline. For example, Flora v. United States, not Flora v. United States

    • Put references to the Internal Revenue Code at the end of the sentence or paragraph. For example:
      Say:
      The law prohibits the disclosure of tax returns or tax return information without written authorization from the taxpayer (section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code).

      Don’t say:
      Section 6103 of the Internal Revenue Code prohibits the disclosure of tax returns or tax return information without written authorization from the taxpayer.

    • Do not split names, phone numbers, and dates over two lines.

    • Do not write out Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Use either IRS or write it out as Internal Revenue Service. Whichever you choose, be consistent throughout your document. Also, do not refer to the IRS as "the Service."

  3. Are rules for capitalization followed?

    • The two basic rules are:
      Capitalize the first letter of proper nouns – specific names of people, places, schools, organizations, months or holidays, religions, trade names, universities, race, titles of documents, titles of people (when they come before the person’s name).

      Do not capitalize the first letter of generic or common nouns. For example:

      a doctor vs. Doctor John Smith
      a college vs. College of William and Mary
      a country vs. Great Britain
      a holiday vs. Fourth of July
      a U.S. senator vs. Senator Susan Collins

    • As a rule of thumb, if you can use "a" or "an" before a noun, you are probably using it generally, and you would not capitalize it. For example:

      An auditor assesses the tax.
      A revenue officer has many duties.

    • The question of whether to capitalize federal comes up frequently. You should only capitalize federal when it is part of a proper noun, that is, the official name of a particular or unique person, place, or thing. For example:

      Federal Bureau of Investigation
      Federal Water Pollution Control Act
      Federal Reserve Board


      When writing about the Federal Government in its official capacity using the term as an official title, you should capitalize both Federal and Government.

      Most of the time, we use federal simply as a form of general classification, which would not require you to capitalize it. For example:

      Once a year, federal employees have an opportunity to choose a different health care provider.

      Many issues we address each day are subject to federal, state, and local laws.

    • Because of the number of exceptions and options for capitalizing words, you should consult a dictionary or style guide when in doubt, or follow the established IRS practice. For example:

      Capitalize specific job titles, such as Director, Compliance Policy or Chief, EEO and Diversity whether they come before or after the person’s name or when they represent a specific position. We also capitalize job titles, such Revenue Officer, Associate Advocate, OIC Specialist when used in the same way. However, do not capitalize generic job titles, such as program analyst, case worker, or attorney whether or not they are used with a person’s name.

Exhibit 11.5.3-1 
Letter to Senator - Washington, DC Office

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-2 
Letter to Senator - Local Office

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-3 
Letter to Chairman - Senate Committee

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-4 
Letter to Chairman - Senate Subcommittee

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-5 
Letter to Ranking Member - Senate Committee

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-6 
Letter to Ranking Member - Senate Subcommittee

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-7 
Letter to Representative - Washington, DC Office

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-8 
Letter to Representative - Local Office

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-9 
Letter to Chairman - House Committee

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-10 
Letter to Chairman - House Subcommittee

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-11 
Letter to Ranking Member - House Committee

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-12 
Letter to a Ranking Member - House Subcommittee

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-13 
Cover Letter - Direct Reply to Constituent

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-14 
Cover Letter to Member (No Disclosure Authorization)

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-15 
United States Senator Response with Attention Line

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-16 
Chief Counsel Letter Signed at Branch Level

This image is too large to be displayed in the current screen. Please click the link to view the image.

Exhibit 11.5.3-17 
Congressional Correspondence Procedures At-a-Glance

Type of Congressional Correspondence Timeframe for Responding Can Due Date be Extended? Procedures for Closing Control with a Phone Call Procedures for Clearing Written Responses Who Closes the Control in e-trak?
Treasury Referral(Executive Secretariat)

We may designate some of these controls as Treasury Referral/LA tracking.
3 business days– from the date Treasury assigns the case to IRS to get a signed response. No Cannot close control with a phone call. Clear the draft response through Leg. Affairs before you send it to the congressional office. Fax it to Mary Dash at (202) 927-9613 along with the:
  • Incoming letter from the congressional office and the constituent, if applicable
   • e-trak control number

Do not e-mail the draft.

For Treasury Referral/LA tracking controls, follow LA tracking procedures below.
Assignment Office - closes the control by scanning the signed response on letterhead into e-trak and mails or faxes the letter to the congressional office. If you do not have a scanner, fax the signed response on letterhead to (202) 622–3048, and Legislative Affairs will close the control.

Treasury Referral
(LA Tracking)
3 business days - from the date Treasury assigns the case to IRS to get a signed response. No Cannot close control with a phone call. Follow the special instructions included with the control. You can either fax your draft to Mary Dash at (202) 927-9613 or e-mail it to:

Mary.L.Dash@irs.gov
AND
Marcie.V.Williams@irs.gov
Legislative Affairs -closes the control by scanning the signed response on letterhead into e-trak and delivers or mails the response to the congressional office.
Treasury Referral(Legislative Affairs) 10 business days – from the date Treasury assigns the case to IRS to get a signed response. Yes
Contact Leg. Affairs at (202) 622–3730 with your request. We will contact Treasury and the congressional office and update e-trak with the new due date. You will receive an e-mail notification with new due date.
Cannot close control with a phone call.
Clear the draft response through Leg. Affairs before you send it to the congressional office. Fax it to Mary Dash at (202) 927-9613 along with the:
  • Incoming letter from the congressional office and the constituent, if applicable
  • e-trak control number

Do not e-mail the draft.
Assignment Office - closes the control by scanning the signed response on letterhead into e-trak and mails or faxes the letter to the congressional office. If you do not have a scanner, fax the signed response on letterhead to (202) 622–3048, and Legislative Affairs will close the control.
LA tracking

(Usually from a congressional committee and signed by Treasury Secretary, the Commissioner, or Deputy Commissioner)
15 business days – from the date Leg. Affairs controls the document in e-trak to get a draft response to Leg. Affairs.

(Response time may vary if the incoming letter has a specific due date or if circumstances dictate a shorter deadline.)
Maybe
Call or e-mail Mary Dash (202) 622-6833 or Marcie Williams at (202) 622-5197. They will discuss extension request with Director, Legislative Affairs. Leg. Affairs will call the congressional office and update e-trak with new due date. You will receive an e-mail notification with new due date.
Cannot close control with a phone call.
Follow the special instructions included with the control. You can either fax your draft to Mary Dash at (202) 927-9613 or e-mail it to:

Mary.L.Dash@irs.gov
AND
Marcie.V.Williams@irs.gov
Legislative Affairs- closes the control by scanning the signed response on letterhead into e-trak and delivers or mails the response to the congressional office.
Congressional Correspondence*
(We consider these cases routine congressional inquires.)
15 business days – from the date Leg. Affairs controls the document in e-trak to get a draft response to Leg. Affairs. Yes
Contact the congressional office, apologize for the delay, and provide a response date. Then, update e-trak with new due date and, in the event log, note the name and phone number of the congressional staffer you spoke to, the date oft he call, and a summary of the conversation. You can find contact information in the congressional letter or at www.senate.gov or www.house.gov.

Contact congressional office: they must agree to the phone closure. If they ask for something in writing, you must prepare a letter and clear it through Leg. Affairs. To close by phone, document the call in the e-trak event log and include; date of call, name of person who made call, name of person who took call, and brief summary of the call and attach the Word file or scan it into e-trak.
You must clear the draft responses, including interim responses, through Leg. Affairs before you send them to the congressional office. Fax your draft to Mary Dash at (202) 927-9613 along with the:
  • Incoming letter from the congressional office and the constituent, if applicable
  • e-trak control number

Do not e-mail the draft.
Assignment Office- closes the control by scanning the signed response into e-trak and mails or faxes the letter to the congressional office. If you do not have a scanner, fax the signed response on letterhead to (202 622–3048, and Legislative Affairs will close the control.

* For cases assigned through ECCO (Employee Conduct and Compliance Office), see the control for additional instructions.


More Internal Revenue Manual