13.1.1  Taxpayer Advocate Case Procedures, Legislative History and Organizational Structure

13.1.1.1  (08-21-2000)
Legislative History

  1. The Problem Resolution Program (PRP) was first implemented in 1977 because there were instances where taxpayer's problems were not promptly or properly resolved, or where the IRS had not been fully sensitive to the needs of taxpayers.

  2. Since 1977, the program has evolved from PRP to the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) due, in part, to three major pieces of legislation.

13.1.1.1.1  (08-21-2000)
Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR)

  1. The Office of the Taxpayer Ombudsman was created by the Internal Revenue Service in 1979 to serve as the primary advocate, within the IRS, for taxpayers. This position was codified in the Taxpayer Bill of Rights 1 (TBOR 1), included in the Technical and Miscellaneous Revenue Act of 1988, Pub. L. 100–647.

  2. This legislation included a provision, that authorized the Taxpayer Ombudsman (now National Taxpayer Advocate), to issue Taxpayer Assistance Orders (TAOs) when taxpayers were suffering or about to suffer significant hardships because of the way the Internal Revenue laws were being administered. This was expanded by the Commissioner to include any instance where a taxpayer was suffering or about to suffer a significant hardship, regardless of the cause of the hardship.

13.1.1.1.2  (04-01-2003)
Taxpayer Bill of Rights 2 (TBOR 2)

  1. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights 2 (TBOR 2) was signed into law July 30, 1996, as Public Law 104–168. TBOR changed the title of the Taxpayer Ombudsman to Taxpayer Advocate while also changing the status of the position.

  2. The Taxpayer Advocate was to continue to fulfill all of the responsibilities, which the position held in the past, but with somewhat greater autonomy and enhanced authority to advocate changes within the IRS that benefit taxpayers.

  3. TBOR 2 described the functions of the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate as:

    1. To assist taxpayer's in resolving problems with the IRS;

    2. To identify areas in which taxpayers have problems in dealings with the IRS;

    3. To the extent possible, propose changes in the administrative practices of the IRS to mitigate those identified problems; and

    4. To identify potential legislative changes which may be appropriate to mitigate such problems.

13.1.1.1.3  (08-21-2000)
Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA98)

  1. The Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA98) was signed into law July 22, 1998, as Public Law 105–206 and changed the Taxpayer Advocate Service's organization. RRA98 renamed the title Taxpayer Advocate to National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA). This law significantly changed the appointment of the NTA from being an appointee of the Commissioner to being an appointee of the Secretary of the Treasury, after consulting with the Commissioner of Internal Revenue and IRS Oversight Board.

  2. RRA98 strengthened the independence of both the NTA and the local advocate organization. Two key changes were mandated:

    • An independent reporting structure for all TAS employees.

    • The availability of Taxpayer Advocates for every state.

  3. The intent of Congress was to ensure both the independence and objectivity on the part of Advocates in dealing with tax-related concerns. Therefore, all employees in the TAS report directly to the NTA or delegate thereof. This provides an independent perspective and ensures taxpayer cases get an impartial review while providing full accountability within the Advocate organization.

13.1.1.2  (04-01-2003)
Philosophy of Advocacy

  1. As part of the IRS, TAS has the responsibility to help bridge the gap for those taxpayers who have unresolved issues or problems. TAS advocates for:

    1. EACH taxpayer, by working with the Operating and Functional Divisions through the Operations Assistance Request (OAR) process and the Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO) Process, and

    2. ALL taxpayers, by making legislative and administrative recommendations to the appropriate business owner.

  2. TAS strives to exemplify professional and ethical behavior. Effective advocacy will benefit both the taxpayer and the IRS.

  3. TAS is composed of advocate ombudsmen. The key characteristics of advocate ombudsmen are independence, impartiality and confidentiality. Advocacy is not just about recommending legislative and procedural changes, but it is also about applying advocacy attributes to each taxpayer's case. An advocate conducts an independent and impartial analysis of all information relevant to the taxpayer's problem. Advocates are professionals who are able to:

    1. Listen to the taxpayer's position;

    2. Investigate;

    3. Evaluate;

    4. Correct the situation;

    5. Request the IRS take a second look;

    6. Advise the taxpayer of their options.

  4. An advocate's goal is to provide quality service to the taxpayer and elevate issues when appropriate.

    Mission Statement
    As an independent organization within the IRS, we help taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS and recommend changes that will prevent the problems.
    TAS Vision
    We encourage resolution of all taxpayer issues at the point of first contact. We are committed to encouraging overall service improvement at the IRS.
  5. The mission of the TAS is to help taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS and to recommend changes to prevent the problems. The organization fulfills its mission through two types of advocacy— case-related and systemic. TAS not only handles cases in which a taxpayer is suffering or about to suffer a significant hardship, but it also handles cases in which the taxpayers in solving problems with the IRS benefit from TAS involvement, even though the taxpayer is not individually experiencing a hardship. Where TAS cannot provide a remedy for taxpayers because of deficiencies in administrative procedures or barriers imposed by the tax law, TAS will propose administrative solutions of legislative changes, as appropriate.

  6. To support the Mission and Vision statements, TAS has articulated roles and responsibilities for all of its managers and employees. TAS will:

    • Advocate on behalf of individual and business taxpayers in disputes with the IRS after making an impartial assessment of the taxpayer's situation;

    • Quickly and accurately address taxpayer problems when there is a failure of systems, policies, or procedures;

    • Operate with the utmost independence while continuing to work toward the IRS mission;

    • Continuously drive procedural, systemic, and legislative change to benefit taxpayers;

    • Effectively communicate with and educate stakeholders and taxpayers to ensure awareness of the TAS, and;

    • Solicit feedback from taxpayers and key stakeholders about IRS problems.

  7. In addition to serving taxpayers one at a time, the NTA also serves all taxpayers by reporting regularly to the Congress of the United States. The Systemic Advocacy (SA) organization carries out the second part of the TAS mission statement, which is to "recommend changes that will prevent problems." It is the responsibility of the NTA to keep Congress fully up to date on the success of the TAS in resolving taxpayer problems, as well as to report any systemic issues that may be adversely affecting taxpayers. To accomplish this, the NTA publishes two reports a year that are submitted to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee.

13.1.1.3  (08-21-2000)
Organizational Structure

  1. The TAS organizational structure is described in the following subsections.

13.1.1.3.1  (10-01-2001)
National Taxpayer Advocate and Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate

  1. The National Headquarters is comprised of the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate (DNTA), and Executive Director, Systemic Advocacy (EDSA) and Program Directors and their staffs. The NTA serves as the advocate for taxpayers within the IRS. He/she also oversees the overall administration of the nationwide Taxpayer Advocate Service by ensuring the interests of the individual taxpayer are represented in all aspects of the policies and procedures of the Internal Revenue Service. All employees in the TAS organization report directly to the NTA or delegate thereof.

  2. In addition to serving taxpayers one at a time, the NTA also serves all taxpayers by reporting regularly to the Congress of the United States. It is the responsibility of the NTA to keep Congress fully up-to-date on the Advocate's success at resolving taxpayer problems, as well as report any systemic issues that may be adversely affecting taxpayers. To accomplish this, the NTA publishes two reports a year that are submitted to the House Ways and Means Committee and the Senate Finance Committee and testifies before Congress on these matters.

13.1.1.3.2  (04-01-2003)
National Headquarters

  1. Supporting the NTA, DNTA and EDSA are managers and their staffs responsible for such areas as Human Resources, Financial Operations, Program Planning and Quality, Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), Communications and Liaison, Taxpayer Account Operations and the Office of Systemic Advocacy. A senior level Technical Advisor, a Senior Advisor to the National Taxpayer Advocate (Research) and Senior Advisor to the National Taxpayer Advocate (Annual Report to Congress) are assigned to the NTA to conduct analysis, coordinate research, assist in the preparation of the Annual Report to Congress and conduct external outreach. The Special Counsel to the National Taxpayer Advocate and staff are employed by the Office of Counsel to provide legal advice and support the NTA and headquarters.

  2. Major responsibilities include: IRM 13, Advocate Advisory Board support and coordination, strategic planning of personnel, training and budget, special project support, Taxpayer Advocacy Panel, NTA's Annual Report to Congress, Annual Objective Report to Congress, Senate Finance Committee Case Program and program direction and support.

13.1.1.3.3  (04-01-2003)
Area Taxpayer Advocate (ATA) Offices

  1. Nine area offices (7 for field offices and 2 for campuses) provide program guidance and direction to Local Taxpayer Advocates (LTA), who report directly to the Area Taxpayer Advocates (ATA) also known as Area Directors. The Area Taxpayer Advocate offices are responsible for:

    1. Ensuring proper resource allocation within their area,

    2. Building support for systemic changes at the local and Campus level,

    3. Working with Operating Division or Functional Unit analysts to identify systemic and procedural problems, and

    4. Providing input to the Executive Director Systemic Advocacy (EDSA) for the NTA's annual reports to Congress.

  2. The Area Director Advocates are also responsible for reviewing and evaluating the program in their respective areas. They ensure that the program is conducted in accordance with national guidelines and instructions and that Local Taxpayer Advocates are carrying out their responsibilities.

13.1.1.3.4  (04-01-2003)
Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) Offices

  1. The TAS has at least one Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) located in each of the 50 states, as well as one in each campus. All LTAs report directly to the 9 area directors and are responsible for resolving all TAS cases. In addition, the local advocates are the liaisons with practitioner communities within their area and with the congressional staffs for constituent issues. They educate the public about the role of the advocate and solicit feedback from them on recurring problems with IRS systems and procedures.

  2. Depending on the size of the office, the LTA's staff can be comprised of Associate Advocates (AA), Senior Associate Advocates (SAA), Program Analysts, Technical Advisors, Group Managers and Administrative Support.

  3. Each TAS office must maintain means of communication that are independent of the IRS. Each office must have a separate phone, fax machine and post office address, as well as other independent electronic communication access. In addition, TAS employees must inform taxpayers that the TAS operates independently within the IRS office and reports directly to Congress through the National Taxpayer Advocate. The LTA also has the discretion not to inform the IRS of any contact or any information provided to the local TAS office by a taxpayer.

13.1.1.3.4.1  (08-21-2000)
Technical Advisors

  1. Technical Advisors and the virtual team process are customer-centered concepts in the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Their primary role is to serve as a technical resource for the entire TAS. They are responsible for resolving the most technically complex or sensitive issues using effective research, communication, coordination, and negotiation skills.

13.1.1.3.4.2  (04-01-2003)
Case Advocates

  1. Senior Associate Advocates (SAA) and Associate Advocates (AA) are known as case advocates and are located in every TAS office. They advocate for the taxpayer one case at a time.

  2. If the case issues fall within TAS's statutory authority or the authority delegated to TAS by the Commissioner, the case advocates will work the cases to resolution. Case advocates will request the IRS functions take another look at determinations or case actions that fall outside TAS's statutory or delegated authorities.

13.1.1.3.4.3  (04-01-2003)
Management and Program Analysts

  1. Management and Program Analysts are located throughout TAS and report to their respective Director, ATA or LTA.

  2. Analysts are responsible for analyzing, evaluating, and advising on the effectiveness and efficiency of the full range of management, technical, and administrative activities of the TAS program.

13.1.1.3.5  (04-01-2003)
Systemic Advocacy

  1. The Executive Director, Systemic Advocacy (EDSA) reports directly to the NTA. The Executive Director has oversight responsibility for systemic advocacy and the NTA's annual reports to Congress. Two divisions, Business Advocacy and Individual Advocacy, report to the EDSA. The Director, Business Advocacy (DBA) and the Director, Individual Advocacy (DIA) are responsible for identifying and raising awareness of systemic issues impacting taxpayers.

  2. The EDSA oversees two project managers in addition to the Directors of Advocacy. One project manager is responsible for the day-to day production of the NTA Annual Report to Congress. The second project manager is responsible for the advocacy initiative tracking system, assignment of advocacy proposals, and a database which captures advocacy proposals and initiatives. The TAS Office of Systemic Advocacy receives administrative and legislative proposals from a multitude of sources, including internal and external sources.

  3. Advocacy analysts assigned to DBA or DIA work with the Operating Divisions/Functional Units to analyze and understand the root causes of problems and support joint advocacy efforts. The ultimate goals of the advocacy analyst are:

    • Preventing or reducing taxpayer burden;

    • Representing taxpayer interests during decision-making processes;

    • Improving customer service; and

    • Addressing inequitable treatment of taxpayers.

13.1.1.3.6  (04-01-2003)
Other NTA Assigned Programs

  1. Also included under the auspices of the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) are two programs, the Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) and the NTA Toll-Free Number operation, that rely heavily upon employees/taxpayers outside the Advocate's organization:

13.1.1.3.6.1  (04-01-2003)
Taxpayer Advocacy Panel

  1. The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) listens to taxpayers, identifies taxpayers' issues and makes suggestions for improving IRS' service to customers.

  2. TAP is an outgrowth of the pilot Citizen Advocacy Panels which were established in 1998 and were located in Brooklyn, Midwest, Pacific-Northwest, and South Florida. With the expansion of TAP, citizen volunteers from all fifty states will have the opportunity to participate in the federal tax administration system.

  3. The TAP acts as a two-way conduit; serving as a focus group for the IRS to provide input on strategic initiatives, as well as providing a venue for raising issues identified by citizens. Structurally, there are seven geographically based Area Boards aligned with the current Taxpayer Advocate Service areas. These Area Boards address local issues and schedule outreach activities. Issue Committees, with nationwide membership, identify and work service-wide issues and are closely linked to the Wage and Investment (W&I) and Small Business/Self-Employed (SBSE) program owners. The goal is to have panel members demographically diverse, with at least one member from each state, for a total of 95 members.

  4. The Taxpayer Advocate Service provides funding for the staff and research support to the panels. Annual Reports are submitted by the TAP to the Secretary of the Treasury and the IRS Commissioner. Copies of all reports, events, meeting agendas and minutes, as well as success stories can be found on the TAP Web site at www.improveirs.org.

13.1.1.3.6.2  (04-01-2003)
NTA Toll-Free Number

  1. The toll-free telephone number for the Taxpayer Advocate Service was established in November 1998 to assist taxpayers with problems not resolved through normal channels.

  2. The NTA toll-free telephone number (1-877-777-4778) is answered in six call sites (Richmond, Baltimore, Jacksonville, Puerto Rico, Atlanta Campus and Fresno Campus), and is staffed by W&I and SB/SE employees. With the exception of major holidays, calls are answered 5 days a week 15 hours a day. Saturday service is provided 8 hours a day during filing season. Both English and Spanish assistance is available to customers.

  3. The NTA toll-free number has designated assistors who answer calls, discuss the problem with the taxpayer, research IDRS and TAMIS, and try to resolve the issue during the call while talking with the taxpayer. If the case can not be resolved and meets TAS criteria, a TAS case is added to TAMIS and immediately transferred to the appropriate office to be resolved.

13.1.1.4  (04-01-2003)
Purpose of Part 13 Taxpayer Advocate Process

  1. IRM 13.1, 13.2, 13.3, 13.4,13.5, and 13.6 provide guidance for the Taxpayer Advocate Service. IRM Part 13 is for Service wide use and replaces all former directives on these subjects.

  2. The time frames provided in this IRM reflect the standards set by the National Taxpayer Advocate. These time frames reflect the Taxpayer Advocate Service's commitment to helping taxpayers in an expeditious manner. IRM 21, Customer Account Service has slightly longer time frames regarding when TAS will contact a taxpayer. However, TAS personnel are expected to follow the time frames provided in this manual.

  3. This IRM does not change the responsibility of IRS employees to resolve problems brought to their attention if they are capable of doing so or to refer taxpayers to the appropriate Operating Division or Functional Unit office.

13.1.1.4.1  (10-01-2001)
Requests for Deviation or Recommended Changes to IRM Part 13

  1. The National Office NTA staff is responsible for maintaining this handbook and will solicit comments and suggestions from Taxpayer Advocate Service staff nationwide and Operating Divisions and Functional Units prior to any substantial changes in operating procedures.

  2. The following Outlook E-mail address has been established for questions, requests for deviation, or recommended changes to IRM 13: *Taxpayer Advocate Q&A.

13.1.1.4.2  (04-01-2003)
Advocate Advisory Board (AAB)

  1. The Advocate Advisory Board (AAB) has been established by the National Taxpayer Advocate to provide input on strategic issues and program direction.

  2. The NTA makes executive decisions and signs all policy decision documents.

  3. The AAB meets quarterly to discuss issues affecting the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Meetings are held at locations most cost effective for the organization.

  4. The AAB has regularly scheduled conference calls.

  5. The AAB has 27 permanent members.

    • National Taxpayer Advocate

    • Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate

    • Representative from NTEU

    • Counsel to the NTA

    • Technical Advisor to the NTA

    • Area Taxpayer Advocates (9)

    • Executive Director Systemic Advocacy (1)

    • Director, Individual Advocacy and Director, Business Advocacy (2)

    • National Office Directors (5)

    • TAS Director for EEO and Diversity

    • Executive Assistant to the NTA

    • Executive Assistant to the DNTA

    • Senior Advisor, Research to the NTA

    • Senior Advisor, Annual Report to Congress to the NTA

13.1.1.5  (10-31-2004)
Delegation of Authority

  1. On January 17, 2001, the Commissioner issued a memorandum delegating authorities to the National Taxpayer Advocate to provide more efficient service to taxpayers. The delegation generally encompasses the same authorities granted to Accounts Management Customer Service Representatives (CSRs). The authorities as outlined in Delegation Order No. 267, Exhibit 13.1.1–1, Authority of the National Taxpayer Advocate to Perform Certain Tax Administration Functions, include adjustments and account related actions found in IRM 21, Customer Account Services . On October 1, 2001, the National Taxpayer Advocate redelegated the authorities to the employees of the Taxpayer Advocate Service who are at the grade or position level of the Associate Advocate and above. Refer to IRM 13.1.4, TAS Authorities, for specific information on the delegations of authority.

  2. The delegated authorities do not permit employees of the Taxpayer Advocate Service to take actions on cases that are open in another IRS function or overrule determinations made by employees of other IRS functions who have been delegated comparable authority.

  3. The authorities granted by the above delegation order are in addition to the statutory authority provided by IRC §7803 and IRC §7811 and other authority granted by delegations found in IRM 1.2.2, Delegations of Authority.

Exhibit 13.1.1-1  (10-01-2001)
Authority of the National Taxpayer Advocate to Perform Certain Tax Administration Functions

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