13.1.18  Processing TAS Cases

Manual Transmittal

February 14, 2012

Purpose

(1) This transmits new IRM 13.1.18, Taxpayer Advocate Service, Taxpayer Advocate Case Procedures, Processing TAS Cases.

Material Changes

(1) Editorial Update Section 13.1.18.6.1- Added Interim Guidance procedures on Subsequent Actions Following Receipt of information from the Taxpayer. This guidance was previously published per TAS Interim Guidance control number TAS-13.1.18-0111-001 (2/10/11).

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM supersedes IRM 13.1.18 dated February 1, 2011.

Audience

Taxpayer Advocate Service employees and impacted Operating Divisions and Functions..

Effective Date

(02-14-2012)


Nina E. Olson
National Taxpayer Advocate

13.1.18.1  (02-01-2011)
Processing Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Cases

  1. This section describes the actions taken or considered by Case Advocates as they work on building and resolving a case: such as the following:

    • reviewing a case,

    • conducting research,

    • contacting a taxpayer or taxpayer's representative,

    • requesting and reviewing taxpayer documentations,

    • providing relief or resolving case issues,

    • educating the taxpayer, and

    • closing the case.

  2. The National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) issued the following memorandum on October 4, 2006, to provide guidance on case processing and IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determinations. Although the memorandum itself will expire on the publishing of this IRM, the guidance it contains is current and is to be considered incorporated into this IRM. The memorandum is reproduced below in its entirety.

    MEMORANDUM FOR TAXPAYER ADVOCATE SERVICE EMPLOYEES
    FROM: Nina E. Olson /s/, National Taxpayer Advocate
    SUBJECT: Common Sense and Good Judgment In Case Processing II (Replaces Memorandum dated 13 January 2005)
    Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) case processing presents a challenge for all of us in TAS, because our case levels are affected not only by fluctuations in IRS activities and systemic issues but also by external factors, including new legislation, natural disasters, and the general environment. For case advocates in particular, the press of new and continuing cases can be daunting and leads us to lose sight of how very important this work is.
    For many taxpayers, the TAS case advocate is the one person in the IRS who has the time to listen to them and fully address their tax problems. Therefore, we do not want our case procedures to be so cumbersome that case advocates feel like they are just checking items off a list and are no longer advocating for the taxpayer. On the other hand, TAS employees must adhere to certain procedures that are designed to properly implement the congressional mandates and direction found in IRC §§ 7803 and 7811, including the identification of systemic problems and their solutions.
    As the National Taxpayer Advocate, it is my responsibility to ensure that our procedures help – not impede – us to fulfill our mission, without imposing unnecessary burden on TAS employees. TAS employees, in return, must try to understand why a given procedure is necessary to TAS’s mission, and suggest procedures that might better achieve that goal.
    There are few decisions as important to the taxpayer and to case advocates as whether the taxpayer’s case comes in to TAS and what we do once we accept it. As our inventory has increased over the last two years, I have reviewed our guidance on case criteria, case acceptance, significant hardship, and Taxpayer Assistance Orders (TAOs). While the guidance is helpful, it does not really provide a rationale for case processing – a common sense approach that helps us briefly step above the trees to see the forest as a whole. The following discussion and direction are meant to do just that.
    Introduction
    On January 6, 2006, the Taxpayer Advocate Service introduced some clarifications to its case acceptance criteria by memorandum captioned Implementation of the Clarified TAS Case Acceptance Criteria. These changes were designed to help TAS case advocates, IRS employees, and taxpayers better understand when a case qualifies for acceptance in TAS, and when a case qualifies for issuance of a Taxpayer Assistance Order under IRC § 7811.
    This memorandum expands upon the guidance issued in January 2006. It outlines several key steps and factors a TAS employee should consider when working a taxpayer’s case. This guidance does not state anything really new – it merely suggests a way of thinking about TAS casework that integrates into a single approach various issues with which we are all familiar. This memorandum will be incorporated into the next revision of IRM 13.
    Terminology Matters
    It is important not to confuse the concept of "hardship" and the concept of "significant hardship" . In order to issue a Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO), IRC § 7811 requires that the taxpayer be suffering or about to suffer a significant hardship. TAS’s ability to work cases and assist taxpayers covers a broader range, however, than the circumstances for which TAS can issue a TAO. A case should be accepted into TAS based on the case acceptance criteria (Criteria 1 through 9).
    The decision of whether a TAO can be issued because of a significant hardship within the meaning of IRC § 7811 is a separate decision from whether the taxpayer is suffering a hardship that qualifies for TAS assistance under Criteria 1 through 4. TAS’s ability to issue a TAO because of a significant hardship is an option in certain circumstances for resolving a case, but significant hardship is not the basis for accepting a case into TAS.
    You will see places in IRM 13 that refer to hardship. Again, do not confuse "hardship" with "significant hardship" . Such references to hardship generally should be viewed in the context of Criteria 1 through 4 as references to economic burden. In order to accept a case into TAS under Criteria 1 through 4, the taxpayer must allege that the hardship presents an economic burden. The nature of the economic burden will dictate under which specific Criteria TAS (1, 2, 3, or 4) should accept the case.
    Using the right terms is important in case processing. For example, we changed the term formerly used in our case criteria to designate Criteria 1 through 4 from "economic hardship" to "economic burden" . We did this because TAS and IRS employees alike were confusing the idea of what it takes to get into TAS as a case with what it takes to get relief from a levy under IRC § 6343(a)(1)(D) (where the term "economic hardship" is used in the Code to allow for release of levy). These are two different concepts. Meeting TAS’s economic burden case criteria does not automatically qualify the taxpayer for relief under IRC § 6343(a)(1)(D) economic hardship.
    TAS Case Criteria and IRC § 7811
    This memorandum discusses four essential components of TAS case processing. They are:
    • The Case Acceptance Determination
    • The Relief/Documentation Determination
    • The OAR/Expedite Determination
    • The 7811 Significant Hardship Determination
    Step one: The Case Acceptance Determination
    The case acceptance determination may take place before the case is assigned to you as a case advocate. Generally, TAS accepts cases under Criteria 1 through 4 on the belief that there is an economic burden. Whether an economic burden exists to warrant relief, however, will depend on the facts and circumstances in each case as well as the information/documentation provided by the taxpayer or that you discovered during the course of working the case.
    Here’s a general approach to TAS case acceptance. Ask yourself:
    •.Does the TP have an economic burden? (criteria 1 –4)
    •.If not, does the TP have a systemic burden? (criteria 5-7)
    • If not, does the TP’s case raise any issue of taxpayer rights or inequitable treatment? (criteria 8)
    • If not, is the TP’s case included in categories designated by the National Taxpayer Advocate as a Public Policy case? (criteria 9)

    Note:

    Only the NTA can designate a group of cases as Criteria 9 cases. If a case involves an issue designated as Criteria 9, you should first determine whether it fits under Criteria 1 through 8. The case should only be designated Criteria 9 if it does not meet any other case criteria.

    If the case does not meet any of the above criteria, the case does not qualify for TAS assistance. Of course, we need to be as helpful and compassionate as possible to a taxpayer whose case we cannot accept, and we should try to direct the taxpayer where to go for help and attempt to put the taxpayer in touch with an IRS employee who can help with the problem, if possible. We should also remind the taxpayer that he or she may become eligible for TAS assistance if the IRS does not resolve the problem.
    Step Two: The Relief/Documentation Determination
    After you make the case criteria determination, you will work the case per IRM 13 and other guidance. Under current procedures, we ask the taxpayer for documentation when we know what relief is appropriate to resolve the problem. For example, where the taxpayer needs a levy release under IRC § 6343(a), Case Advocates should check the regulations and IRM and determine what documentation you must send to the function to obtain a levy release.
    Remember: When asking the taxpayer to provide documentation, tailor the documentation request to the relief you are seeking. Don’t ask for unnecessary information. However, you should try to obtain the information that will make the most convincing case for relief.
    The January 2006 Case Criteria memorandum introduced one significant change to TAS case processing. We will no longer ask the taxpayer to validate the hardship as a prerequisite to accepting cases involving criteria 1 through 4. Requiring a taxpayer to send in documentation of a hardship before beginning to work the case wasted taxpayer and case advocate time, delayed relief, and often required the taxpayer to obtain documentation that was unnecessary for the ultimate relief requested.
    Thus, TAS case advocates now classify a taxpayer’s case based on their determination of which criteria best fits the taxpayer’s situation. Case advocates should use their best judgment in making this classification decision. Being the skilled interviewers they are, I am confident that case advocates’ judgment, based on their knowledge of the facts and circumstances before them, will be very accurate. Where we later discover that a case better fits another criteria, we should note that fact in the case history. And of course, TAS will continue to monitor case criteria accuracy to identify trends and to provide relevant training.
    Step Three: The OAR/Expedite Determination
    The third step in TAS case processing is the OAR/Expedite Determination. Under previous Service Level Agreements, OARs on criteria 1 through 4 cases received Expedite treatment from the functions, and OARS on criteria 5 through 7 cases receive priority treatment (i.e., there is a little more flexibility with respect to deadlines). We have revised our Service Level Agreements (SLAs), and now have a slightly different approach to expediting cases. This approach will focus on the particular facts of a case rather than the criteria code selected by TAS.
    We are in the process of revising our Service Level Agreements (SLAs). Once they are revised, we will have a slightly different approach to expediting cases. This approach will focus on the particular facts of a case rather than the criteria code selected by TAS. Under the new SLAs, you should ask yourself:
    • Given the facts in this taxpayer’s case, does this OAR need to be handled expeditiously?
    Thus, you may have a Criteria 1 case in which the manual refund needs to be expedited but the audit reconsideration of the underlying tax liability does not need to be expedited. On the other hand, you may have a Criteria 7 case that involves a taxpayer who has been unsuccessfully trying to resolve his issue for 2 1/2 years. That taxpayer should not have to wait another day for resolution, so that case may need to be expedited!
    Step Four: Significant Hardship Determination
    "Significant Hardship" comes into play after you have decided what relief you are going to give the taxpayer and when you have to determine if the LTA has the authority to issue a Taxpayer Assistance Order under IRC § 7811 and the 7811 regulations.
    When making a § 7811 "Significant Hardship" determination, ask yourself:
    • Does the taxpayer face an immediate threat of adverse action? (IRC § 7811(a)(2)(A))
    • Has the taxpayer experienced a delay of more than 30 days in resolving taxpayer account problems? (IRC § 7811(a)(2)(B))
    • Will the taxpayer incur significant costs (including fees for professional representation) if relief is not granted? (IRC § 7811(a)(2)(C))
    • Will there be irreparable injury to, or a long-term adverse impact on, the taxpayer if relief is not granted? (IRC § 7811(a)(2)(D))
    • Is there a serious privation caused or about to be caused to the taxpayer as a result of the particular manner in which the revenue laws are being administered by the IRS? (Treas. Reg. § 301.7811-1(a)(4)(ii)) (Note that the regulations state that serious privation is more than mere inconvenience, economic or otherwise. Serious privation can include being deprived of taxpayer rights as well as tangible property.)

    Note:

    If the IRS has not followed its published administrative guidance (including the IRM) in the course of the case, TAS shall construe the factors it considers in deciding to issue a TAO in the manner most favorable to the taxpayer. (IRC § 7811(a)(3)).

    A Final Word About Case Processing
    Remember that we are taxpayer advocates. Congress has not asked us to judge the taxpayer. Rather, Congress has asked us to help taxpayers resolve their problems with the IRS and to identify the underlying causes of those problems. As taxpayer advocates, we should point out misconceptions, educate taxpayers about their mistakes, and show them how to avoid future problems. We can even decline to take a case because the taxpayer has "hopscotched" over normal IRS procedures or because the taxpayer is a "frequent flyer" .
    But we must always try to see things first from the taxpayer’s perspective – how confusing, intimidating, and frustrating it can be to try to resolve a problem with the IRS. Never forget that. That’s why TAS exists – to help taxpayers solve their problems with the IRS – case by case and systemically.
    I welcome your comments and suggestions for improving case processing, and on the contents of this memo. Send all such questions to the *TAS NTA Questions mailbox. I will be directly involved in the review of and responses to your questions, with the responses delivered through the TAS website and the Wednesday Weekly.
  3. After a case has been accepted into TAS, there are generally three phases in resolving the case:

    1. In the first phase, the Case Advocate clarifies the taxpayer’s issue and what type of relief/assistance is requested or needed.

    2. In the second phase, the Case Advocate builds the case by conducting research such as reviewing IDRS, gathering information from taxpayers, third parties, or the IRS employee assigned to the case (if any), and reviewing procedural guidance and applicable regulations or laws.

    3. In the third phase, the Case Advocate takes any actions necessary to provide relief/assistance and to bring the case to resolution, including educating the taxpayer.

    Note:

    Each case is unique and should be worked based on the facts and circumstances particular to the case. Different cases will require different case actions to be taken. Each case action must be documented within two workdays on the Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System (TAMIS) History Screen.

13.1.18.1.1  (02-01-2011)
Working TAS Cases

  1. TAS Case Acceptance Criteria fall into four categories to enable TAS and IRS employees to better identify the nature of the taxpayer’s problem. This approach helps ensure that the appropriate relief is provided to the taxpayer at the appropriate time. While all TAS cases are considered a priority, some cases may have issues which require TAS's immediate attention, and need actions to be taken sooner than customary. TAS's policy is that Criteria 1-4 Cases – those involving an economic burden to taxpayers -- will be worked sooner than other TAS cases.

  2. Cases that meet TAS Criteria 1-4 are categorized as "Economic Burden" cases. For additional information see IRM 13.1.7.2.1 , TAS Case Criteria 1 – 4, "Economic Burden."

  3. Cases that meet TAS Criteria 5-7 are categorized as "Systemic Burden" cases. For additional information see IRM 13.1.7.2.2 , TAS Case Criteria 5 – 7, "Systemic Burden" .

  4. Cases that meet TAS Criteria 8 are categorized as "Best Interest of the Taxpayer" cases. For additional information see IRM 13.1.7.2.3, TAS Case Criteria 8,"Best Interest of the Taxpayer."

  5. Cases that meet TAS Criteria 9 are categorized as "Public Policy" cases. For additional information see IRM 13.1.7.2.4, TAS Case Criteria 9, "Public Policy."

13.1.18.2  (02-01-2011)
Introduction to Initial Actions

  1. This section describes the actions that will be taken by the Case Advocate within 3 workdays of the Taxpayer Advocate Received Date (TARD) for Criteria 1–4 cases and within 5 workdays of the TARD for Criteria 5–9 cases.

    Note:

    The Initial Actions Screens on TAMIS have been developed to assist the Case Advocate in ensuring that initial case actions are made, and that initial case contacts are taken in a timely manner.

  2. The timeframes discussed in this IRM are the maximum allowed for taking case actions. Certain cases may involve issues that require the immediate attention of the Case Advocate, and should therefore be worked more expeditiously than the guidance in this IRM suggests. Case Advocates should review the specific facts and circumstances of certain time-sensitive cases received from his or her manager or acting designated official and take necessary actions to immediately address or resolve the time-sensitive issue(s). See IRM 13.1.16.6(2), Initial TAS Case Receipt and Assignment Actions.

    Example:

    TAS receives a case where the taxpayer needs a Manual Refund to relieve an economic burden. The overpayment will be offset to the taxpayer’s IRS tax liability unless the refund is requested before the 23C date. The 23C date is in 3 calendar days. TAS needs to work this case immediately due to the impending 23C date.

  3. When the Initial Actions Screen is saved, TAMIS systemically generates a new TAMIS History Screen. This generated History Screen records that the Initial Actions Screen was completed and the date the Initial Actions Screen was saved. This generated History Screen records that the Initial Actions Screen was completed and the date the Initial Actions Screen was saved. This generated History Screen may be updated within the same business day (until midnight, Eastern Time).

  4. The Initial Actions Screens do not capture everything which might occur during the initial contact. The TAMIS History Screen must be used to document those items not captured in the Initial Actions Screens.

  5. The Case Advocate can use either the generated TAMIS History Screen or create a new TAMIS History Screen to document any items and issues not included in the Initial Actions Screens.

    1. These items and issues include, but are not limited to:

    • Disclosure verification (e.g., when additional taxpayer verification is needed due to multiple parties or TAS employee contacts;

    • Clarification of the taxpayer’s issues and the relief requested/resolution needed;

    • Modifications to action plans;

    • Receiving authorization for third party contacts;

    • Documents requested from or by the taxpayer.

      Example:

      The Case Advocate inputs on IDRS a change to the address of record as requested by the taxpayer during the initial contact. The Case Advocate completes and saves the Initial Actions Screens. Because the Initial Actions Screens do not capture the change of address made to IDRS and to TAMIS, the Case Advocate documents this action, with a Follow-Up Date (FUD) to check that it posts to IDRS, on the TAMIS History Screen.

  6. Specific dates must be used by TAS employees when identifying, taking or requesting an action of any kind (e.g., conducting additional research, contacting the taxpayer, requesting documents to be provided). These dates should be reasonable and established using appropriate guidelines. Use of these dates keeps the case moving from intake to resolution, and enables Case Advocates and anyone who reviews the case to monitor and track the actions taken.

    • Follow-Up Date (FUD) is a date used by the Case Advocate to manage the movement of the case toward resolution. A follow-up date is used to document when the Case Advocate plans to take the next case action.

    1. If you fail to set a FUD, you only have 5 workdays from the last action to take the next action.

    2. The follow-up action must be taken within 5 workdays of the established FUD.

    3. FUD dates must be documented on TAMIS in the FUD box on the History Screen or by updating the Case Action Screen to reflect the date established.

    • Next Contact Date (NCD)is a date given to the taxpayer or representative as to when the next contact will be made by the Case Advocate.

    1. The Case Advocate will remain in contact with the taxpayer or representative until the closing contact is made and will keep the case open long enough to ensure effective resolution of the case.

    2. Contacts with the taxpayer or representative must be made on or before the date promised (NCD). If contacts are made by correspondence, the letter must be mailed on or before the NCD for the next contact date to be considered timely.

    3. If the case is complex and may take several months to resolve, advise the taxpayer and schedule NCDs at least every 30 calendar days. Contact dates may be more often or less frequent, but only if the taxpayer is in agreement, and that agreement is documented in the TAMIS history. If the taxpayer specifically requests "no contact" until the issue is resolved, document the TAMIS history. Remember, the contact with the taxpayer must be made on or before the date promised (NCD).

    4. If you fail to establish an NCD, you must contact the taxpayer within 5 workdays of the last contact.

    Note:

    Generally, you should set an NCD and a FUD after every contact whether verbal or written. One exception is in second request letters. The date given for the taxpayer to respond is a follow-up date, not an NCD.

    • Estimated Completion Date (ECD). The ECD is an estimated date for case resolution communicated to the taxpayer or representative and documented in the case history. The development of an action plan at the start of the case provides a better estimate of when the case can be completed.
      When a subsequent change to the initial or subsequent Plan of Action (See IRM 13.1.18.2.3 for information on Action Plans) causes you to need additional time to resolve the issues, then provide a revised ECD to the taxpayer. If the ECD is revised during a contact with the taxpayer, then provide the revised ECD to the taxpayer. Otherwise, provide the new ECD at the next contact anddocument TAMIS. TAS Letter 2903L, Interim Letter, may be used to provide this information.

13.1.18.2.1  (02-01-2011)
Review TAMIS Information

  1. Ensure that the TAMIS information is correct and complete during your initial review. Some of the data initially loaded on to the e-911, Electronic Request for Taxpayer Assistance Order (and Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order), from AMS and then loaded onto TAMIS may be incomplete or outdated, as some of the information is retrieved from IDRS. Therefore, ensure that the TAMIS information is also correct and complete. Later, as the case is developed, update the appropriate TAMIS Screens and fields as necessary.

    Example:

    During the initial contact, the Case Advocate clarifies that the taxpayer’s request for a "lien release" was actually a request to remove the wage levy. On TAMIS, while documenting the initial contact, the Case Advocate updates the Issue Code, from 721 - Lien Release, to 710 - Levy.

    Example:

    During a subsequent contact, the taxpayer tells the Case Advocate to work with an attorney he recently hired, and provides a completed, signed Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative. At the time of the contact, the Case Advocate documents the taxpayer's request in the TAMIS History Screen, adds the contact information to the TAMIS POA Screen, and forwards the Form 2848 to the Centralized Authorization File (CAF) Unit so it can be added to IDRS.

    Example:

    The TAMIS contact information on Taxpayer Screen 1, the POA Screen, and the Congressional Screen are all in upper-case text. During the initial review, the Case Advocate corrects this information by changing this contact information to proper upper and lower case format.

13.1.18.2.2  (02-01-2011)
Review TAS Case Criteria Codes

  1. Review the TAS Case Criteria Code to determine if it is correct. There are two types of errors that may result in incorrect coding: administrative errors and factual errors. Generally, the criteria code will not be changed on a case unless the incorrect code was input on the case when the case was taken into TAS and an administrative or factual error occurred.

    1. Administrative errors arise when, by mistake or accident, criteria codes are incorrectly selected or input on TAMIS.

      Example:

      Based on the TAMIS history, the taxpayer will suffer a long term adverse impact if action is not taken, and should have been coded as "4." Due to a typing error, the case was accidentally entered on TAMIS with Criteria Code "3" .

    2. Factual errors occur when the facts presented by the taxpayer are incorrect. These facts, as presented, justify the selection of one criteria code upon case intake, when in fact another code applies to the taxpayer’s situation.

    Example:

    A taxpayer in California calls the NTA toll-free number concerning an IRS levy on his wages and claims that he will be unable to buy groceries for his large family if the levy is not released. He states he has an outstanding tax liability from his 2004 federal income tax return, but he filed an amended 2004 return which will result in a zero balance. He has heard nothing from the IRS about the correction. The case is accepted into TAS as a criteria 1 case. The Case Advocate researches the issue and determines that the State of California filed a lien for the taxpayer’s 2003 state tax liability, and the taxpayer confused this with an IRS levy. The facts presented by the taxpayer were incorrect; the taxpayer is not facing economic harm from IRS actions. The Case Advocate changes the criteria code to 5 because the taxpayer experienced a delay of more than 30 days in resolving his tax issue.

    Note:

    A factual error does NOT exist when more than one criteria code applies to a case, and the code picked on the case is not the one that would offer the most benefit or is of most concern to the taxpayer. As long as the code chosen is also correct, no factual error was made and the criteria code on the case should not be changed.

    Reminder:

    Case Advocates will still use issue codes to denote the primary and secondary case issues.

13.1.18.2.3  (02-01-2011)
Develop an Action Plan

  1. Review the case file, develop an initial action plan, and document the plan on the TAMIS Action Plan Screen. TAS employees are required to draft an Action Plan to address all issues for each case. An Action plan is important because it facilitates proper case management and provides a road map for anyone who may need to review or take action on the case. Modify and update TAMIS as subsequent issues arise or changes are identified. For additional information see IRM 13.1.18.2.4, Additional Case Actions and IRM 13.1.18.6, Subsequent Actions and Case Resolution.

  2. If you need assistance in identifying case issues or developing an action plan, consult with your Manager or Technical Advisor. Document any consultation with your Manager or Technical Advisor on TAMIS. Research appropriate records and document the research before contacting a Technical Advisor or your Manager. If you are assigned a case that is beyond the scope of your expertise, refer it to your manager for guidance.

13.1.18.2.4  (02-01-2011)
Additional Case Actions

  1. The following are some additional actions that Case Advocates will need to take, if appropriate, as part of their initial case actions. Establish reasonable follow-up dates for all pending actions.

  2. Conduct Additional Research. Research IDRS and other IRS databases to determine the status of the issue and if there are any controls by an Operating Division (OD) or Functional Unit. Utilize the Research field on the Initial Actions Screen on TAMIS to document research conducted.

  3. Control Case on IDRS. Open an IDRS control base on all affected accounts. Document this on the TAMIS Initial Actions Screen by entering the date on the "IDRS Control Established Date" field.

    Note:

    A TAS case closed within 5 workdays must still be controlled on IDRS.

  4. Suspend Collection Activity. Attempt to suspend all lien filings and levy actions, including levies under the Automated Levy Program (e.g., FPLP and SITLP), until a final decision on the issue is made. Input STAUPs, request ACS holds, and contact Revenue Officers, as needed. Document your actions and date of action on the TAMIS Initial Actions Screen or TAMIS History Screen. Document in TAMIS History items that cannot be captured in the Initial Action Screens. If you are unable to suspend a notice or lien filing or levy action prior to issuance, notify the taxpayer immediately. See IRM 13.1.10.15, Suspending Collection Action for additional information. If it will take more than three (3) workdays to suspend lien filings and levy action, negotiate a completion date for the suspension with the OD/Functional unit.

  5. Document POA Information. When a representative is involved, document the name, contact information and authorization on the TAMIS POA Screen. Each representative listed on the Form 2848 should be added in the Contact Section of the POA Screen. The Contact Section should be updated when changes are made to the POA. Follow local procedures when forwarding any POA forms not listed on IDRS. Document the date the Form 2848 or Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, was sent to the CAF unit in the "Date Form 2848/8821 sent to CAF" field in the TAMIS POA Screen. When the taxpayer revokes the POA’s authorization or the representative withdraws his or her authorization, document the TAMIS history. See IRM 21.3.7.11.4 , Processing a Revocation/Withdrawal , for the procedures for revoking or withdrawing an authorization. However, do not remove the representative’s record from the TAMIS POA Screen. Update the POA Screen to indicate the representative is no longer active.

  6. Request Internal Information. Make requests for any information needed from internal sources. Order internal documents, if applicable.

    Note:

    Prior to requesting the Files Function to pull an original return, use the data available on IDRS (RTVUE, BRTVU, RTFTP, IMFOLR, BMFOLR) as a substitute for requesting the original return. Request any necessary taxpayer administrative files or returns through CC ESTABDV. Print the "Request Complete " screen from IDRS and include in your case file. Use the Requested Items field on TAMIS to document and track this information.


    Do not fax Form 2275, Records Request, Charge and Recharge, to the Files Function as your initial action. Every campus has a Files Coordination point to service TAS cases. TAS cases are considered priority and the Files employees are to make every effort to secure the requested return expeditiously. Check the Campus OAR Requirements and Routing Guide, using the OAR button on the TAS Website for the procedures, contact information, follow-up information, and timeframes at each of the ten campuses.

  7. Third Party Contacts. Determine whether third party contact is necessary and whether the taxpayer has already received notification of possible third party contacts or signed a March 2000 (or later) revision of Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Assistance Order (and Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order). The Form 911 provides notice to the taxpayer of the potential need to contact third parties in order to respond to the taxpayer's request for assistance. When signing the Form 911, the taxpayer is authorizing TAS to contact third parties. No further notification to the taxpayer is required. The taxpayer(s) or certain representatives (e.g., attorneys, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), or enrolled agents) with a valid POA, Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, may give authorization over the telephone to contact third parties. Follow the instructions listed in IRM 13.1.2.4.1, Advance General Notification Requirement, in securing and documenting permissions to make third party contacts. Document permissions on TAMIS. Record third party contacts in the TAMIS Third Party Contact Screen.

  8. IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination. Determine if you have sufficient information to make an accurate IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination or if additional information is needed to make this determination. If sufficient information exists, make the determination at this point in the case. For additional information see IRM 13.1.18.7, Making an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination.

13.1.18.3  (02-01-2011)
Initial Contact

  1. Contact the taxpayer or representative by telephone within 3 workdays of the TARD for criteria 1-4 cases, and within 5 workdays of the TARD for criteria 5-9 cases to notify of TAS's involvement and independence from the IRS. For more information see IRM 13.1.2.3.2, Inform Taxpayer of Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Independence.

  2. It is important to ensure that all documentation needed to support case resolution is secured. This documentation may be required by the OD/Functional Unit, or may be required by TAS to take an action (e.g., issuing manual refunds) per the IRM or other procedural guidance. TAS will generally request from the taxpayer only the information required by the Code, regulations, IRM, or other procedural guidance.

  3. Leaving a message on an answering machine is not considered an initial contact with the taxpayer. There are certain actions that must take place during initial contact that can only be satisfied by personal contact with the taxpayer or by sending a letter within the prescribed time frames. Therefore, you cannot leave a message on an answering machine as the initial contact. Refer to IRM 13.1.6.7 , Leaving Messages on Answering Machines, for disclosure rules on leaving messages on answering machines

  4. If you received a transferred case after the initial acknowledgment (see TAS Transfer Letter 2902L) you are required to contact the taxpayer by the date promised. However, if the taxpayers have circumstances that would be made worse by waiting until the promised follow up date, action should be taken sooner. See IRM 13.1.18.2 (2)..

  5. For criteria 5 - 9 cases, if you can close your case within 5 workdays of the TARD, and the taxpayer has not been notified of TAS case handling, you can use one contact, by telephone if possible, to notify the taxpayer of both TAS involvement and problem resolution. If you are not able to reach the taxpayer by telephone, send a letter by the 5th workday after the TARD.

  6. A letter is only appropriate when the taxpayer cannot be contacted by telephone. If a letter must be sent, it must be sent by the third workday after the TARD for criteria 1-4 cases, and by the 5th workday after the TARD for criteria 5-9 cases.

  7. Authenticate the taxpayer. Refer to IRM 13.1.10.3, Disclosure Issues and Taxpayer Authentication for required procedures to follow on authenticating a taxpayer on first contact. See also IRM 13.1.6.7, Leaving Messages on Answering Machines, for the disclosure rules about leaving messages for taxpayers.

    Caution:

    Authentications must be made on subsequent contacts with any person(s) not previously authenticated, such as the other spouse on a married-filing-jointly (MFJ) return. Annotate this authentication on TAMIS. Each TAS employee working the case must authenticate the taxpayer and also document TAMIS on his or her first contact with the taxpayer.

  8. Follow proper contact rules when the taxpayer has a valid POA on file. If a taxpayer contacts TAS for assistance and the taxpayer has a POA on file for the tax period for which TAS assistance is being requested, the Case Advocate must inform the taxpayer of the requirement to contact the POA unless the taxpayer revokes the authorization (or the POA withdraws the authorization). For the procedures for revoking or withdrawing an authorization, see IRM 21.3.7.11.4 , Processing a Revocation/Withdrawal. Once you have obtained confirmation that the taxpayer has revoked the authorization (or the POA has withdrawn the authorization), document this on TAMIS.

    Exception:

    When the taxpayer initiates contact, make the initial contact with the taxpayer and ask the taxpayer if the POA will be involved in the resolution of the case or if the taxpayer intends to revoke the POA’s authorization. Document this contact on TAMIS. Refer to IRM 21.3.7.11.4 , Processing a Revocation/Withdrawal, for the procedures for revoking or withdrawing an authorization.

    Note:

    If the taxpayer does not want the POA involved but does not want to revoke the POA, the CAF file on command code (CC) CFINK may show that the POA is authorized to receive correspondence. In these situations, inform the taxpayer that a courtesy copy of any TAS letters will be sent to the POA.

  9. Advise the taxpayer of your name, job title, address, telephone number, office hours, and employee identification number. Provide an apology, if appropriate.

  10. Verify how the taxpayer’s inquiry came into TAS. Input the two Outreach fields in TAMIS Taxpayer Screen 1.

  11. Clarify the taxpayer’s problem and the relief or assistance requested. If, after the initial contact with the taxpayer, the Case Advocate determines the original statement was unclear or incorrect, the Case Advocate should document on TAMIS.

  12. When you have clarified the taxpayer’s problem and the relief/assistance requested, update the TAMIS Primary Core or Secondary Core Issue Codes (PCIC and SCIC) and the TAMIS Action Plan.

  13. Use the Initial Actions Screen 2 on TAMIS to document initial contact actions and notate the date of your next action (FUD or NCD).

  14. If you have not yet made an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination, determine if you have sufficient information to make an accurate IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination or if additional information is needed to make this determination. If sufficient information exists, make the determination at this point in the case. For additional information see IRM 13.1.18.7, Making an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination.

  15. Request any documentation or information (include due date) needed from the taxpayer or representative in order to provide relief/resolution. Information requested from the taxpayer should pertain directly to the taxpayer’s problem and the relief or assistance needed. On TAMIS, list the documentation and information requested from the taxpayer and the due date for the items to be provided.

  16. Provide the taxpayer with a next contact date (NCD) and notate on TAMIS.

    Note:

    If a next contact date (NCD) is not given, you must contact the taxpayer within 5 workdays of your last contact.

  17. Provide the taxpayer with an estimated completion date (ECD) and notate on TAMIS.

13.1.18.4  (02-01-2011)
Assisting Taxpayers with Economic Burdens (Criteria 1-4 Cases)

  1. Criteria Code 1-4 cases involve situations in which taxpayers request assistance due to an economic burden, and obtaining this assistance is usually the taxpayers' utmost concern. Once the economic burden is alleviated, there may be other problems or case issues which TAS needs to resolve before a case can be closed.

    Example:

    The release of a levy on the taxpayer's wages will alleviate the economic burden on the taxpayer. But the taxpayer may still need TAS to assist in locating and crediting to his account a missing payment that will satisfy the tax liability.

  2. Generally, TAS’s first priority when working an economic burden case is to determine if action(s) can be taken to alleviate the taxpayer's economic burden, and if so, to provide the necessary assistance to the taxpayer.

    Note:

    Not all taxpayers will want or need relief from the economic burden, but may need TAS's assistance in resolving other types of problems.

  3. There may be more than one way to provide assistance. TAS may grant or partially grant the action that was requested by the taxpayer, or may provide an alternative solution.

    Example:

    A self-employed taxpayer requests that a levy on one of his accounts receivable be released. After speaking with the taxpayer and the Revenue Officer, and reviewing the taxpayer’s financial information, the Case Advocate recommends a partial release of the levy, in which the taxpayer will be allowed the amount of money needed to relieve the economic burden.

  4. The decision to alleviate the taxpayer's economic burden will be based on the pertinent facts of the case and TAS’s ability to grant the relief based on the Internal Revenue Code, regulations, and IRS guidance such as that found in the IRM. It is not possible to provide an all-encompassing set of guidelines. OARs and TAOs must be considered and properly utilized if TAS does not have the authority to take the action needed.

  5. If necessary, discuss the issue with a Technical Advisor, Manager, Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA), SBSE Counsel or Special Counsel to the NTA.

  6. It may not be possible to alleviate the taxpayer's economic burden because the law prevents TAS from taking the necessary actions. Advise the taxpayer why assistance cannot be provided and that the taxpayer has the right to speak to the LTA. Work with the taxpayer to resolve any other case issues.

  7. If an economic burden case (TAS Criteria 1 – 4) is determined to meet IRC § 7811 (see 13.1.18.7), and the Case Advocate decides that the relief requested by the taxpayer is not warranted, see IRM 13.1.21.1.2(6)(a) , Closing Actions.

  8. Do not deny relief solely because a taxpayer is not current with filing returns. The taxpayer may need assistance in obtaining the information needed to prepare the returns.

13.1.18.5  (02-01-2011)
Alleviating Economic Burdens on Criteria 1-4 Cases

  1. Once the decision is made that an economic burden should and can be relieved, the Case Advocate must initiate actions within three (3) workdays to implement the relief. In some cases actions may need to be taken immediately, such as to prevent levied funds from being sent to the IRS. Additional actions to resolve the underlying issues or other problems may be necessary after the economic burden issue has been resolved.

  2. Determine whether:

    1. TAS has the authority to take the necessary actions, such as making adjustments, issuing manual refunds, etc. See IRM 13.1.4, TAS Authorities for more information.

    2. Assistance is needed from an Operating Division(OD) or Function and whether expedite processing of an OAR is needed. See IRM 13.1.19, TAS Operations Assistance Request (OAR) Process.

      Reminder:

      When requesting expedite processing of an OAR, Case Advocates will submit Form 12412, Operations Assistance Request (OAR), to the appropriate OD/Function Liaison within one (1) workday once the OAR is sufficiently developed.

    3. Special situations exist that may require specific actions. See IRM 13.1.10, Special Processes for more information.

  3. If alleviating the economic burden will completely resolve the case, take the necessary closing actions as soon as possible. See IRM 13.1.21 , TAS Case Closing and Reopen Case Procedures for additional information.

  4. In most cases, after the economic burden has been alleviated, the underlying issue that caused the economic burden must also be resolved. This is done to prevent a recurrence of the problem for the taxpayer. The facts and circumstances of the taxpayer's case should dictate how expeditiously you take actions to resolve the underlying issue and any other problems. These actions can be taken or initiated in conjunction with working the economic burden issue.

    Example:

    The taxpayer contacts TAS because of a wage levy that will cause an economic burden. The underlying cause of the wage levy was the IRS's failure to transfer misapplied payments after receiving copies of the cancelled checks. Before closing the case, TAS needs to resolve the issue concerning the misapplied payments by sending an OAR to the OD/Function requesting the payments be applied correctly.

    Example:

    An economic burden arose when a large portion of the taxpayer’s refund was offset to a prior year’s tax liability. The underlying cause of the offset was an unpaid assessment from a CP 2000 inquiry. After the assessment was made, the taxpayer contacted the IRS and was sent a letter indicating the IRS's acceptance of his explanation for the unreported income noted in the CP 2000. However, the IRS has not adjusted the assessment. If the Case Advocate alleviates the economic burden by requesting a manual refund, he or she will also need to resolve the issue concerning the uncorrected assessment.

13.1.18.6  (02-01-2011)
Subsequent Actions and Case Resolution

  1. Case actions subsequent to the initial actions should focus on resolving the taxpayer's problems and moving the case toward closure. These actions may involve reviewing and taking action on information received from the taxpayer, contacting the taxpayer to acknowledge receipt of information, contacting third parties to request information, and conducting additional research. Document your actions on TAMIS within two workdays of when you took the action. If TAMIS is unavailable, document your actions on TAMIS within two workdays of when TAMIS becomes available and also note on TAMIS the date of your actions.

  2. Case Advocates should continue to use FUDs and NCDs and take case actions timely. Provide the taxpayer or representative with a revised ECD, as necessary. For more information see IRM 13.1.18.2 (6)

  3. As actions are taken and the case progresses update all TAMIS data fields which change. Examples of fields which may change or require additional input (although not all inclusive) include Case Factors Screen, Primary and Secondary Issue Codes, POA Screens, OAR Screens, and the Action Plan Screens.

  4. Update and revise the Initial Plan of Action, and the subsequent Plans of Actions within two workdays of when a new issue, timeframe, process, or procedure is identified. Document on TAMIS the issue and the action necessary to resolve the case.

  5. Document the performance and the outcomes of the actions that are listed on the TAMIS Action Plan Screen in TAMIS. These can be documented in the TAMIS Initial Actions Screens, the Case Actions or the History Screen. This documentation includes canceling a planned action. The action plan, together with the documentation on TAMIS of the performance and the outcomes of each planned action, provides a road map for anyone to follow:

    • The planned actions;

    • The performance and the outcomes of those planned actions; and

    • The planned actions that must still be done on the case.

    Reminder:

    A planned action input on the TAMIS Action Plan Screen cannot be changed after midnight (Eastern Time) of the day it is input. Therefore, to modify or change a planned action on the TAMIS Action Plan Screen, it will be necessary to add another planned action on the Action Plan Screen or to document the change in the TAMIS History.

  6. If you have not yet made an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination, as you take subsequent case actions determine if you have sufficient information to make an accurate IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination. If sufficient information exists, make the determination. For additional information see IRM 13.1.18.7, Making an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination.

13.1.18.6.1  (02-14-2012)
Reviewing and Requesting Information from Taxpayers

  1. During the initial or subsequent contacts the Case Advocate may have requested information from the taxpayer or representative. Upon receipt of the information, the Case Advocate must conduct a quick read of any information the taxpayer or representative provides to determine if an immediate action is required. If no immediate action is required, the case advocate must review any information the taxpayer or representative provides and determine if the information is sufficient to take the next step toward resolution, no later than 5 workdays from the previously established "follow-up " date established on TAMIS for receipt of the information

  2. If the information is insufficient or if the information was not received by the date specified or an alternate date extended by request of the taxpayer, a second request for the information must be made.

    • The second request must be in writing and documented on TAMIS to clearly establish the intent of the request. (See TAS Letter 1671L, Second Request for Information.)

    • Include a due date for receipt of the information, allowing at least 5 workdays for receipt. Consider mail time to and from the taxpayer's location when setting the due date. Include an explanation of the consequences of non-response (e.g., the case will be closed and enforced collection activity will resume or a refund cannot be expedited, etc.).

    • Provide the amount due on the taxpayer's accounts, including penalty and interest, and provide the date through which the figures are computed.

  3. If the taxpayer or representative does not provide the information by the due date, take any actions you can with the information you have available

  4. If the actions cannot be taken due to lack of information from the taxpayer, close your case as" no response."

  5. Actions should be taken to provide assistance to the taxpayer as soon as the Case Advocate has sufficient information required for the actions to be taken. If the actions necessary to resolve the case are beyond the authority of TAS, you will need to request assistance from the appropriate OD/Functional Unit on an OAR.

13.1.18.6.2  (02-01-2011)
Taking Actions to Resolve Case Issues

  1. Take Actions to provide assistance to the taxpayer as soon as you have obtained sufficient information to do so.

  2. If you have questions regarding what actions should be taken or how to take these actions, or need any other assistance in resolving a case, consult with your Manager or a Technical Advisor. For more information see IRM 13.1.12 , Technical Advisors and Virtual Team Process.

  3. If the actions necessary to resolve the case are beyond the authority of TAS, you will need to request assistance from the appropriate OD/Functional Unit on an OAR. IRM 13.1.4, TAS Authorities, will assist you in determining if you can take the action or whether an OAR is necessary.

  4. OARs that require expedite processing must be submitted within one (1) workday once the OAR is sufficiently developed. OARs that do not require expedite processing should be submitted at the earliest possible date once the OAR is sufficiently developed. For additional information see IRM 13.1.19, TAS Operations Assistance Request (OAR) Process.

  5. Follow up on any OARs or requests for information, as applicable. Document your requests, discussions, and any information obtained on the TAMIS History or OAR Screens.

  6. If the OD/Function Unit fails to complete the requested actions outlined on the OAR by the date promised, elevate the case to your manager for intervention or Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO) consideration. For more information see IRM 13.1.19.6, Operating Division or Functional Unit Disagrees-Action Not Taken, IRM 13.1.7.4 , Same Day Resolution by Operations, and IRM 13.1.20, TAS Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO) Process.

13.1.18.6.3  (02-01-2011)
Taxpayers Delivering Returns to TAS and TAS Date Stamp

  1. Any tax return mailed to TAS is not considered filed with the IRS until it is received by an authorized IRS office. As discussed below, there are designated places for filing, and those places do not include a TAS office. Further, the postmark rule described in IRC § 7502 does not apply unless the return was properly addressed to the office with which the return was required to be filed.

  2. The date a return is considered "filed with the IRS" has significant consequences. For example, the date the return is filed starts the general 3-year period in which the IRS has to access tax for that tax year. See IRC § 6501. Similarly, the date the return is filed starts the general 3-year period in which a taxpayer has to claim a credit or refund of tax for the tax year. See IRC § 6511.

  3. Section 6091 of the IRC and the corresponding Treasury regulations provide guidance on the proper place to file tax returns and provide that individual taxpayers generally have the following options for places to file their income tax returns:

    1. With any person assigned the responsibility to receive returns in the internal revenue local office where that individual taxpayer legally resides or has a principal place of business;

    2. At a campus serving the local office referred to in (a);

    3. If the instructions to the return require filing with a campus, with the applicable campus; or

    4. Hand carried to any person assigned the responsibility to receive hand-carried returns in the local IRS office serving the individual taxpayer's legal residence or principal place of business.

    Note:

    Instructions for the tax forms specify the campus where taxpayers must file.

  4. A return is considered properly filed if the IRS employee to whom the return is hand-carried has been delegated the authority to accept hand-carried returns.

    Note:

    TAS employees have not been delegated the authority to receive hand-carried returns and must transmit the return to the IRS for filing. A return hand-delivered to a TAS employee is not considered filed with the IRS until it is received by an authorized office.

  5. TAS must date-stamp returns with a TAS received date (the TARD). That received date, however, does not mean the return has been "filed with the IRS."

  6. If TAS receives a return that is time sensitive, (e.g., received on the due date for filing or on the last day a taxpayer can claim a refund), and it is not possible to get the original document to the appropriate Campus Operating Division that same day, fax a copy of the return on the day of receipt along with a statement from the taxpayer that it is a faxed signature and it is a legal document, and then follow procedures in (7).

  7. If TAS receives a return either by mail or hand-carried, the Case Advocate should take the following action;

    • If the taxpayer wants to submit a return to TAS, advise the taxpayer that TAS is not authorized to receive returns and provide the appropriate address for the taxpayer to submit the return or direct the taxpayer to the nearest walk-in office or Taxpayer Assistance Center. Advise the taxpayer to file the return at the proper location and deliver a copy to TAS.

    • If the taxpayer refuses to file the return directly with the appropriate IRS office and the Case Advocate has no choice but to accept the return, then the CA must stamp TAS's received date on the document and forward it to the proper filing location.

    • If the original document is not needed to resolve a TAS case (because a copy of the document will suffice), transmit the document via Form 3210 within one work day to the taxpayer's proper filing location for normal processing. A copy of the document should be kept with the TAS case file and the copy used to resolve the TAS case issues.

    • If the original document MUST be used to resolve a TAS case, the Case Advocate will transmit the original document via an OAR to the appropriate Campus Operating Division within one workday of receipt with a request to process the document.

    • For any situation where TAS ends up with a return in its possession, educate the taxpayer as to why returns have not been properly filed until received by the proper location.

  8. The procedures in paragraph (7) above apply to amended returns and claims as well. Regardless of the type of return the taxpayer is attempting to file, mailing or hand-delivering a return to a TAS employee does not constitute filing with the IRS and TAS needs to get the document to the correct location as soon as possible.

  9. Make copies of all returns for the case file and notate the TAMIS history regarding the actions taken.

13.1.18.7  (02-01-2011)
Making an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination

  1. Case Advocates are required to make a determination of significant hardship on all cases. This determination will be referred to as an "IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination." With the clarification of the TAS case acceptance criteria, it is essential that TAS be able to distinguish those taxpayers who need TAS assistance due to a significant hardship as defined by IRC § 7811 from others who need TAS assistance but are not experiencing or about to experience a significant hardship as defined by IRC § 7811. Taxpayers with a significant hardship potentially may need a Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO) to obtain relief

  2. By identifying a significant hardship situation, TAS will be better prepared to offer these taxpayers the assistance they need, when they need it. IRC § 7811 gives the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) the authority to issue TAOs and that authority has been redelegated to certain TAS employees. The purpose of making an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination on every case is to ensure that TAOs are considered when:

    • The actions needed to offer relief to the taxpayer are not within TAS’s authority;

    • An OD/Functional Unit disagrees with the actions recommended by TAS, or

    • An OD/Functional Unit fails to perform the actions recommended by TAS.

    Note:

    The ability to provide relief or issue a TAO should not be a factor in determining if significant hardship exists.

  3. Generally, as defined in IRC § 7811 and Reg. 301–7811–1(a)(4)(ii), a significant hardship situation exists if one or more of the following circumstances are present:

    1. An immediate threat of adverse action.

    2. A delay of more than 30 days in resolving taxpayer account problems.

    3. The incurring by the taxpayer of significant costs ,( including fees for professional representation) if relief is not granted.

    4. Irreparable injury to, or a long-term adverse impact on, the taxpayer if relief is not granted.

    5. A serious privation is caused or about to be caused to the taxpayer as a result of the particular manner in which the revenue laws are being administered by the IRS. Mere economic or personal inconvenience to the taxpayer does not constitute significant hardship.

  4. Examples of situations that involve significant hardships are:

    • Lack of funds due to levy or refund not received for housing and utilities, food, transportation to and from work, medical treatment.

    • The taxpayer may become unemployed or lose his or her source of income as a result of the IRS' action.

    • The taxpayer will lose out of acquiring real property.

    • The taxpayers' rights have been abridged.

    • The IRS handled the taxpayer's case differently than other taxpayers in similar situations, and the impact will cause serious damage to the taxpayer's ability to earn future income.

    • The IRS did not respond to the taxpayer in a timely manner.

    • The taxpayer's credit was not applied in the correct manner or to the correct account.

    • The taxpayer did not receive a statutory final notice before enforcement action was taken.

  5. The circumstances listed above are not meant to be an exhaustive list of what constitutes significant hardship to taxpayers. Case Advocates must use common sense and good judgement when making an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination. Here are two examples to consider:

    Example:

    The taxpayer disagrees with a proposed tax assessment by the AUR unit. The taxpayer timely responds to the CP2000, Notice of Proposed Deficiency, and provides documentation to confirm that the wages on which the assessment was based do not belong to him. It has been two months and the taxpayer has not received a response. In this example, there is a significant hardship because there has been a delay of more than 30 days in resolving the taxpayer's problem.

    Example:

    Husband and wife taxpayers submit a Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Assistance Order (and Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order), because they have a levy on their bank account. The taxpayers state they will not be able to buy food for their children unless the levy is released. During initial fact gathering and research you discover that the taxpayers owe federal income taxes for eight years and have failed to meet several payment deadlines which resulted in the levy. When determining if significant hardship exists, this prior history of failing to pay should not be considered. The taxpayers’ current situation should be the determining factor on whether significant hardship exists. In this example, there is a significant hardship because the levy is preventing the taxpayers from providing food to their family.

  6. It is important that you do not allow your personal values or opinions to affect the determination of the validity of the taxpayer's hardship.

  7. The determination of significant hardship should be reached on the issue of hardship alone without considering:

    • Who is "at fault " (who caused the hardship or contributed to the problem).

    • Past actions and events (e.g., prior compliance history of the taxpayer).

    • Type of tax (such as trust fund liabilities).

    • Prospect of resolution (even if there is no prospect of relief or no reasonable alternative actions available).

13.1.18.7.1  (02-01-2011)
When to Make an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination

  1. A Case Advocate can make an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination at any point during the process of working a case. However, an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination must be made before certain case actions, as noted below, can be taken. The Case Advocate will consider all facts and circumstances of the case, and use good judgment as to when to make this determination. Document the IRC §7811 Significant Hardship Determination on TAMIS as soon as the determination is made that significant hardship does or does not exist.

  2. An IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination must be made before an OAR can be issued.

  3. An IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination must be made before a TAO can be issued.

  4. An IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination must be made, or a previous determination re-examined, when the OD/Functional Unit disagrees with any of the actions recommended by TAS.

  5. An IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination must be made and documented on TAMIS before the case can be closed, including cases being closed as no response.

  6. An IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination must be made on reopened cases. Refer to IRM 13.1.21.3.4, IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination on Reopen Cases.

13.1.18.7.2  (02-01-2011)
Documenting an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination on TAMIS

  1. Case Advocates will record their IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination using the TAMIS Taxpayer Screen 3, 7811 Determination.

    1. If a case involves a significant hardship, document this on the TAMIS Taxpayer Screen 3 and explain why a significant hardship exists

    2. If a case does not involve a significant hardship, document this on the TAMIS Taxpayer Screen 3 and explain why significant hardship does not apply.

13.1.18.7.3  (02-01-2011)
Changing an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination

  1. Changes to an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination may be necessary when:

    • Subsequent information received from taxpayers, third parties, or internal sources shows that the taxpayers's situation does, after all, involve a significant hardship, or what the Case Advocate initially considered to be a significant hardship is not.

    Example:

    The taxpayer claims he made a payment he was not given credit for and he received notice of an IRS levy. The Case Advocate sees no indication on IDRS of the IRS issuing a levy. The Case Advocate requests a copy of the levy notice from the taxpayer and sees that it is actually notice of a lien filed by the State for the taxpayer's unpaid State income taxes. The Case Advocate confirms with the taxpayer that the "missing" payment was also submitted to the State. After explaining to the taxpayer that the problem involved the State and not the IRS, the Case Advocate will need to change the original IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination of "yes" to "no" .

    • New issues arise.

    Example:

    A local congressional staffer forwards a case to TAS to obtain transcripts for an elderly constituent. As the taxpayer has never contacted the IRS for these transcripts, this would not meet significant hardship. However, the Case Advocate calls the taxpayer to inform her that the transcripts are on the way. The taxpayer advises the Case Advocate that she requested the transcripts after receiving notice from the IRS of their intent to file a Notice of Federal Tax Lien within 30 days. As this is a threat of immediate adverse action, the Case Advocate will need to change the original IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination of "no" to "yes."

    Note:

    If the taxpayer experienced a significant hardship at any time while the case was in TAS, even if other issues exist or later arise that do not involve significant hardship, the IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination will always be "yes" and should not be changed.

  2. When an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination is changed from a "yes" to a "no" , the LTA must demonstrate concurrence with the change by activating the Radio Button on TAMIS screen 3. LTA concurrence is not required when changing an IRC § 7811 Significant Hardship Determination from a "No" to a "Yes" .


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