13.2.2  Inventory Control and Working an Assignment

13.2.2.1  (07-16-2009)
Introduction

  1. The TAS Office of Systemic Advocacy (OSA) and Field Systemic Advocacy (FSA) each play a vital role in identifying, analyzing, and resolving broad-based taxpayer problems. Projects arise from several sources, including field offices within TAS, IRS employees in other functions, and external stakeholders.

  2. OSA starts with Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS) submissions and then applies the tools of project management when working the projects developed from these submissions, informing stakeholders of the progress on a project and the final results. These items are the essence of OSA analysis and initiatives.

  3. This section will provide guidance and instruction on how to:

    • Identify a project;

    • Accept a project;

    • Assign a project;

    • Work a project (developing, managing, proposing solutions, closing procedures and communications); and

    • Use SAMS.

13.2.2.2  (07-16-2009)
Identifying an Advocacy Issue

  1. Issues that adversely impact taxpayers come to the attention of TAS through various external and internal sources. The sources internal to TAS and IRS include:

    • Employee suggestions and ideas;

    • Best practices;

    • LTA (Local Taxpayer Advocate) offices (including Advocacy Portfolio issues);

    • Area Directors' offices;

    • TAS case activity;

    • The National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA);

    • Senior advisors to the NTA;

    • Other senior TAS leadership;

    • The Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) and Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs);

    • TAS data analysis; and

    • Operating divisions (ODs) or functions.

  2. External (outside of the IRS) sources of advocacy issues could include:

    • Individual and business taxpayers;

    • Tax practitioners;

    • Professional associations;

    • Customer satisfaction surveys; and

    • Organizations such as the IRS Oversight Board, TIGTA and the GAO (Government Accounting Office).

  3. Generally, issues are submitted to the OSA through SAMS. The OSA may also receive submissions from sources other than SAMS (i.e.,Form 14411 , Advocacy Issue Submission Form). When such a submission is received, the OSA will:

    • Input the issue on SAMS;

    • Immediately date stamp any paper document(s); and

    • Email the SAMS Program manager with submitter information;

13.2.2.3  (07-16-2009)
Advocacy Submission Processing

  1. The SAMS Program Manager will review and prioritize the issue submissions and refer them to the DII (Director Immediate Intervention). The DII then makes an initial assessment as to whether the issue should become a project. Each submission is considered for potential advocacy project (AP) status using a series of factors and detailed process steps. See Exhibit 13.2.2-1, SAMS Issue Evaluation and Project Creation Process.

  2. The SAMS Program Managers initially rank submissions utilizing ranking questions. The questions fall into five categories:

    1. Scope;

    2. Interest/Visibility/Sensitivity;

    3. Taxpayer Burden;

    4. Taxpayer Rights; and

    5. Ability to Effect Change.

13.2.2.3.1  (07-16-2009)
Scope

  1. The following three factors help determine how widespread the problem may be.

    • Potential Volume of Taxpayers Affected Within the Identified Segment - Of the taxpaying population within the identified segment (Individuals, Small Business, etc.) how many could be impacted by this issue? Designate as a high, medium, or low number relative to the overall segment. For example, a problem with Line 5 on Schedule D would affect a relatively low number of people, because out of 127 million individual filers, approximately 25 million file Schedule D and only a portion of that group fills in Line 5.

    • Geographic Scope - Does the issue impact taxpayers across the nation (national), in clustered areas (area, region, or campus), or only in certain places (local)?

    • Issue Frequency - Does the issue happen on a recurring or cyclical basis, on a limited or sporadic basis or only one time?

13.2.2.3.2  (07-16-2009)
Interest/Visibility/Sensitivity

  1. The following three factors help determine the amount of interest, visibility, and or sensitivity associated with the problem.

    • Congressional Interest/Support - How much support or interest has Congress expressed concerning this issue? Did the support or interest come from one member’s office or is it widespread in the House or Senate (high, moderate, or low)?

    • Community/External Stakeholder Interest/Support - How much support or interest have external stakeholders expressed concerning this issue? Was the support from one specific group (American Bar Association (ABA), American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), etc.) or is it spread across various sectors such as accountants, lawyers, and other special interest groups (high, moderate, or low)?

    • Media Interest/Publicity - How much interest has the media shown in this issue? What level of coverage does this issue rate (high, moderate, or low)?

13.2.2.3.3  (07-16-2009)
Taxpayer Burden

  1. Four factors help determine the level of burden placed on the taxpayer trying to resolve the issue. Always consider burden from the taxpayer's or stakeholder’s point of view.

    • How long to resolve - How long does it take to resolve this issue (from the taxpayer's perspective)? The choices range from "Less than three months" to " Greater than one year." The longer it takes, the more points are awarded.

    • Effort - How much effort is required to resolve this issue (again, from the taxpayer's or other stakeholder’s perspective) -- minimal, moderate or significant? The more effort it takes to resolve the issue, the more points are awarded.

    • Financial - What is the financial impact on the taxpayer (excluding tax, penalties and interest) -- minimal, moderate or significant? Factors include issues such as the cost of representation and the taxpayer's ability to pay for this representation, and the cost of repeated photocopies or express mail for documentation, etc.

    • Fairness - Is this taxpayer treated disparately compared to other taxpayers? If the taxpayer is treated fairly, the issue is not awarded criteria points; if not treated fairly the issue is awarded points.

13.2.2.3.4  (07-16-2009)
Taxpayer Rights

  1. Two factors help determine how the problem affects taxpayers' rights.

    • Denial of Taxpayer Rights - Did the taxpayer have the opportunity to exercise a right or was the taxpayer denied something (privacy, collection, appeal, etc.) that the taxpayer had the right to? If taxpayers' rights are violated, award criteria points; otherwise do not award points.

    • Enhancement of Taxpayer Rights - Does this issue enhance taxpayers' rights? If so, award criteria points; otherwise do not award points.

13.2.2.3.5  (07-16-2009)
Ability to Effect Change

  1. Two factors help identify issues that may not be resolved without TAS intervention.

    • Likelihood of Independent IRS Action - How likely is it that the OD or function will fix the problem without TAS intervention? The higher the likelihood of independent action, the fewer criteria points are awarded.

    • TAS Ability to Influence Change - How likely is it that TAS will be able to influence the OD or function to address the issue? The higher the likelihood of TAS influencing change, the more criteria points are awarded.

  2. After the issues are ranked, recommendations are forwarded to the DII. The DII decides whether the issue requires immediate intervention (II). Immediate intervention determinations are made considering the following factors.

    • Is the harm such that multiple stakeholders need to be involved immediately?

    • What is the underlying cause of the problem?

    • Are the right stakeholders involved?

    • What is the scope of the problem?

    • What is the impact on one or more of the balanced measures (customer service, employee satisfaction, and business results)?

    • What are the possible short and long term solutions?

    • Will the issue need long-term project analysis?

    Example:

    Notice 54 mailed with refund checks: A POA had notified Systemic Advocacy that Notice 54 was being included with the mailed refund checks that IRS mailed. Notice 54 states, "The amount of the enclosed refund check is different than the amount shown on your return. You should be receiving a notice in a few days that explains why the amount of the check is different and what additional information, if any, you need to provide to the IRS." In actuality the refund issued agreed with the refund requested by the taxpayer on their return, and no additional notice explaining why the check amount was different was scheduled by IRS to be sent, as there was not a discrepancy.
    This notice was generating taxpayer confusion, and increased phone calls and correspondence from taxpayers requesting clarification. Notice 54 was generating from the Fresno Service Center. Math error notices were not sent and it appeared the only item generating the notice was the interest amount paid with the refund for the telephone tax credit.
    Within this project, research indicated that CI-Refund Crimes, SB/SE Compliance, the Fresno Campus Manual Refund Unit, IRS Application Development, Notice Gatekeeper, Financial Management Service (FMS), and the W&I Program Office all needed to be contacted as critical stakeholders. Procedures in FSC required that Notice 54 be sent when a paper refund was issued, including EITC. This procedure began over six years ago to address concerns addressed by FMS when working EITC fraud cases. The confusion regarding the generation of Notice 54 when TETR interest was involved also had an impact on the actual coding of the error file. Traditionally, this notice is issued when a math error adjustment has been made, adjusting the amount of refund the taxpayer may be expecting. However in this case no math error adjustment was involved and the refund had not been adjusted.
    Systemic Advocacy coordinated the fact-finding and the stakeholders' interest to secure agreement regarding a systemic programming change. This issue had the potential for nationwide impact and significant burden to numerous taxpayers. The resolution of the project was systemic programming.

    Example:

    Disaster Relief Denied Part of Maine was proclaimed a disaster area due to storms April 14 through 18, 2007. As a result of the disaster declaration, taxpayers were given until June 25, 2007, to file and pay the tax due on or after the incident date. The problem stems from the FEMA declaration that the incident date was April 18, 2007. Because the Form 1040 was due April 17, 2007, IRS disaster units were taking the position that Maine taxpayers were not eligible for penalty or interest relief. Maine zip codes were not included in the systemic S freeze for disaster. However, the IRS news release and the local IRS press release, ME- 2007-22, stated "Deadline for affected taxpayers to file returns, pay taxes and perform other time-sensitive acts falling on or after April 14, 2007, and on or before June 25, 2007, have been postponed to June 25, 2007."
    Maine taxpayers and preparers relied on information supplied via the IRS press release and website, and were receiving bills for penalty and interest. Systemic Advocacy determined the underlying cause of the problem to be that the IRS did not realize there had been an amendment of the FEMA dates on the declaration for the state of Maine. Upon notification of key stakeholders, the MITS programing was revised. The resolution was confirmed within 3 days of the SAMS review of the issue.

  3. If the issue is determined not to be an Immediate Intervention, the DII and DAP will determine whether the issue should be an advocacy project. The consideration of issues for advocacy project selection includes a series of factors listed below.

    • Whether the issue is statutory (Internal Revenue Code), covered by the Treasury Regulations or addressed in the IRM?

    • Whether the issue has been previously addressed in the Annual Report to Congress, and if so how long ago and what was the outcome? If the issue was addressed recently, the submission may not be selected for a new project unless the IRS has failed to take an action it agreed to take. The issue may be made into a project if a significant period of time has lapsed since the issue was addressed. To the extent the issue has not been previously addressed in the annual report, the creation of a project may be warranted.

    • Whether the issue has been submitted multiple times, indicating additional consideration, as an emerging issue that warrants development. See Exhibit 13.2.2-1, SAMS Issue Evaluation and Project Creation Process.

      Example:

      Bulk Filing - P&I The IRS has charged penalties and interest due to late filing on bulk paper filings. Upon review, it appeared the decision to charge late filing penalties and interest was based on the "date of receipt" instead of the "date mailed" on the tax returns. To support the claim, the submitter enclosed copies of the stamped certified mail receipt and transmittal letters showing that the returns were timely filed on April 17, 2006. The submitter received notices from three different IRS offices for the same issue, adding additional confusion. A minimum of two SA projects were selected and worked regarding this issue coordinating the research and input from both the internal and external stakeholder. The data gathered and analyzed supported the project recommendation to establish a national team. The recommendation was accepted by the Office of Taxpayer Burden Reduction as a featured Taxpayer Burden Reduction Project. Campus locations implemented several of the team's suggestions.

      Example:

      Incorrect ES Penalty when disaster freeze present Interest, FTP and FTF penalties were correctly adjusting on accounts when the Disaster Extensions are input; however, the Estimated Tax Penalty was not always adjusting correctly when taxpayers self-identify as being affected by the hurricane disasters. Command Code PIEST shows the ES penalty on several TAS cases. If the Disaster freeze had a revised date and posted to Masterfile before the return posted, the ES penalty, FTF, FTP and interest were computed correctly. However, if a disaster freeze was input after the return posted, the program recomputed interest, FTF or FTP penalties, but did not recompute the ES penalty.
      Systemic Advocacy project efforts included the validation of the root cause. Individual Master File account taxpayers who were granted disaster relief but overpaid their estimated tax payments were impacted when the -O freeze was manually set on accounts where a return has already posted for tax years 2004, 2005 and 2006, for specified FEMA declarations, resulting in an incorrect computation. Systemic Advocacy coordinated communication with the IRS Disaster Coordinator and MITS, to conduct a systemic recovery to adjust the accounts, abating the inappropriate assessment of penalties and related interest, and notify effected taxpayers of the corrections to their accounts.

  4. The SAMS program managers will systemically notify the submitter when a decision regarding project selection status is made.

  5. Submissions not selected for an AP will be considered for other appropriate action, including referral to the other TAS HQ program staff; such as Portfolio Advisors, Technical Analysis and Guidance (TAG), Attorney Advisors, Internal Technical Advisory Program (ITAP), Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP), Communications & Liaison (C&L), and Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). The submissions will be forwarded for their consideration and written response to the submitter, generally within 30 days of issue receipt. Program staff members are required to provide copies of the closing response to the SAMS program managers. A signed (electronic or copy signature) of the Closing Letter or email will be included in the project file at closing and an electronic copy should be attached to the project on SAMS. Responses to internal submitters may be via email. Responses to external submitters often require a formal letter, including the employee's job title and identifying number.

    Note:

    Most external submissions are received by IRS.gov and may only have an email response address. Additional actions may be necessary to secure appropriate submitter contact information when a formal response is required. Recommended email language: " You contacted Systemic Advocacy via IRS.gov. for information or assistance. We have been unable to reach you. If you would like to communicate with us, please call XXX-XXXX."

    Note:

    When appropriate, consult with the office of the Special Counsel to the NTA.

  6. Submissions that warrant action by another IRS organization, e.g., the IRS suggestion program, should be ranked "Not Accepted" and SAMS will automatically deliver a systemic notification to the submitter.

  7. Duplicate issues will not be ranked and will be closed on SAMS by placing them in Duplicate status and associating them to the corresponding duplicate issue.

  8. Related issues will be associated with other like issues (and all work types) and generally be closed if there is an open or recently closed project on the same topic. The SAMS Program Manager will contact the submitter and add him or her as a stakeholder on any open related project. Project Leads will update the submitter of the related issue on the status of the project and will include the submitter on closing correspondence. SAMS Program Managers will be responsible for adding the related issues on the projects as "associations," and notifying Project Leads and their managers of the association. When ranking issues, SAMS Program Managers and their delegates will consider the expanded scope of a topic when several related issues are received and there is not an open project on the topic. This information will be elevated to the DII and DAP for project consideration.

13.2.2.4  (07-16-2009)
Creating Systemic Advocacy Projects

  1. Once issues are accepted as projects, they become the responsibility of the DII and DAP. The DII will usually assign an II to a Technical Analyst. The DAP will assign APs to Technical Analysts or to the FSA (Field Systemic Advocacy) Director for assignment to the FSA staff. The issue work flow state will change to "Issue Closed" on SAMS once an issue has been accepted by the DII or DAP and a project is created. Additionally, a check mark will appear in the box labeled "Promoted to Project" .

13.2.2.4.1  (07-16-2009)
Immediate Interventions

  1. Some issues require immediate intervention. For these, the SAMS Program Manager, with concurrence from the DII, will:

    • Research SAMS and add the II designation, if it is not correct; and

    • Assign the project to the DII.

  2. The DII then assigns the project to a Technical Analyst.

  3. The Technical Analyst will:

    • Contact the submitter(s). This provides an opportunity to determine whether additional information is available or changes have occurred.

    • Develop an action plan for resolution within five calendar days of assignment.

    • Follow the AP Process.

    • Maintain a sense of urgency when working the project.

13.2.2.4.2  (07-16-2009)
Advocacy Projects

  1. The DAP assigns projects based on the priority of underlying issues.

  2. An AP is designed to:

    • Identify and address systemic and procedural issues;

    • Analyze the underlying causes of problems; and

    • Propose corrective action.

  3. When working on an AP, document all activities on SAMS. An advocacy project should include:

    • Researching, identifying, and verifying the source(s) of the problem(s);

    • Researching applicable laws, regulations and procedures, including Internal Revenue Code, case law, Treasury Regulations, and IRM provisions;

    • Collecting and analyzing the data;

    • Soliciting feedback from appropriate internal and external sources;

    • Interacting with the appropriate OD and function contacts in researching, understanding, and identifying proposed solutions; and

    • Preparing Advocacy Proposals for review by management. See Exhibit 13.2.2-2, Advocacy Proposal Template.

13.2.2.5  (07-16-2009)
Project Assignment, Development, Management and Working a Project

  1. This section provides details of:

    • Project assignment;

    • Project development;

    • Project management; and

    • Working a project.

13.2.2.5.1  (07-16-2009)
Project Assignments

  1. The project may be assigned to a single project leader, or if the issue requires multiple resources, a team may be established to address the issue. A team may include Analysts, LTA/Portfolio Advisors, Attorney Advisors, Technical Advisors, and Research Analysts.

  2. The manager adds all team members to the project on SAMS along with the "actual start date." Both of these actions will be done upon assignment to the project leader. Upon receipt of an assigned project, SAMS will be updated to "In Process." Any members joining the team after assignment will be added to the team on SAMS by the project leader.

13.2.2.5.2  (07-16-2009)
Project Development

  1. Project development begins when the project is assigned to a lead or team. Project development consists of tasks that foster and support background research, process analysis, collection and interpretation of data, and coordination with operating divisions.

  2. Project development tasks will include:

    • Creating (on SAMS) a charter that specifies the project's purpose and requirements;

    • Determining the project scope, including objectives, deliverables, barriers, and affected customers;

    • Determining an appropriate remedy or solution;

    • Creating an action plan on SAMS; and

    • Devising and delivering project status reports to management as appropriate.

13.2.2.5.3  (07-16-2009)
Project Management

  1. Project management enables team leaders and members to efficiently organize and coordinate efforts. It assists them in creating the appropriate plan, product, or process within the resource limits of an organization.

  2. Project management provides inputs, processes and outputs that provide structure to a project.

13.2.2.5.4  (07-16-2009)
Team Composition

  1. A project team is comprised of three primary components:

    • Project manager;

    • Project lead, and if required;

    • Team members.

  2. The project manager’s responsibilities include:

    • Monitoring the progress of the project;

    • Guiding and supporting the project leader and team members; and

    • Acting as liaison between the team, management, and outside stakeholders.

  3. The project lead’s responsibilities include:

    • Monitoring the progress of the project to ensure that deadlines are met;

    • Coordinating activities of team members; and

    • Acting as liaison between the responsible manager of the project and the team members.

  4. The team member’s responsibilities include:

    • Completing tasks by the established deadlines;

    • Communicating with the team leader and members on progress of work and any pressing issues; and

    • Keeping his or her manager apprised of the progress of the project.

13.2.2.5.5  (07-16-2009)
Working a Project

  1. The first steps in working a project are:

    1. Review and clarify the issue;

    2. Contact the submitter for validation of issue and obtain supporting case examples;

    3. Conduct initial research;

    4. Validate the problem;

    5. Determine the scope; and

    6. Develop a plan of action.

  2. The project lead should make initial contact with the submitter within the following timeframes:

    • Immediate Interventions (II) - 1 business day from the "Actual Start Date" on SAMS.

    • Advocacy Projects (AP) – 3 business days from the "Actual Start Date" on SAMS.

  3. During the initial contact, advise the submitter of project assignment and confirm a clear understanding of the issue. The initial contact also provides an opportunity to determine whether additional information is available or changes have occurred. The project lead should tell the submitter to expect updates as often as every 30 days (or less frequently if the submitter agrees) until the project is complete. All contact will be documented on SAMS and will include substantive detail of what was discussed. The substance of the discussion should be documented on the "Notes" tab and labeled as a "contact." SAMS will need continuous updates throughout the process, regardless of the project status, until it is closed by the director.

  4. If the submitter is not an IRS employee, immediately upon telephone contact tell the taxpayer or representative your name, job title and unique employee identification number. If you do not make telephone contact, your initial letter to the customer must contain the above identifying information. This will satisfy the requirements of RRA 98 § 3705 Identify Yourself. See IRM 13.1.2.3, RRA 98 § 3705 Identify Yourself, for additional information.

  5. Notification to the submitter is not required in the following instance:

    • No contact information is available. (i.e., Internet user) You need to document attempts to identify the submitter. However, if you have the submitter's email address, after consulting with your manager, you may send an email to the submitter to secure appropriate contact information.

  6. For Advocacy Projects, the project lead will:

    • Develop an action plan within 30 calendar days of the actual start date on SAMS that includes a course of action to identify and resolve the issue.

    • Notify the manager that the action plan is available for review/approval and update SAMS that the manager has been notified.

    • The manager will review the action plan within 15 calendar days of the task assignment and document this review on SAMS. If the lead does not timely notify the manager of the action plan, the manager should follow up.

  7. For Immediate Interventions the project lead will:

    • Develop an action plan within five (5) calendar days the actual start date on SAMS that includes a course of action to identify and resolve the issue.

    • Notify the manager that the action plan is available for review, and update SAMS that the manager has been notified.

    • The manager will review the action plan within four calendar days of notification and document this review on SAMS. If the lead does not timely notify the manager of the action plan, the manager should follow up.

13.2.2.5.5.1  (07-16-2009)
Project Charter

  1. It is mandatory to complete eight (8) items in the project charter and document this action on SAMS.

  2. The mandatory elements of a project charter are:

    • Statement: Identify the initial problem statement and update it during the life of the project, if necessary.

    • Constraints: Identify items that will obviously guide project planning. For example, if the project is an ARC (Annual Report to Congress) project, an obvious constraint is the December 31 deadline for delivery to Congress.

    • Risks/Rewards: The project lead should include as risks any consideration(s) that may limit the team's ability to achieve the project objective.

    • Objective: Identify customer or advocacy program expectations from the project.

    • Customers: Identify the public or IRS population that will benefit from the solution to the problem.

    • Impact statement: State the advocacy goal of the project (e.g., protect taxpayer rights), describe the costs of the issue to the customer, and if possible estimate the change in these costs with resolution.

    • Resolution: Complete this field at the close of the project. However, space is limited, so only a brief description is necessary.

    • Key issues: Convey any information you have about the progress of the project and address additional information about its resolution that does not fit the "resolution" field. You can also use this area to describe any temporary solutions for immediate intervention issues.

  3. The optional elements of the project charter are:

    • Taxpayers Impacted;

    • Environmental; and

    • Opportunities: Include any opportunities that this project may surface (e.g., the opportunity to reduce taxpayer burden or tax law complexity). This item is optional.

13.2.2.5.5.2  (07-16-2009)
Action Plan

  1. The action plan, key deliverable, and critical actions will be entered on the "Task" tab. The purpose of breaking down the project into tasks is to:

    • Determine the most efficient way to divide up the work;

    • Assign accountability for each task;

    • Coordinate the efforts of team members, if applicable;

    • Determine the resources needed to accomplish the project; and

    • Identify a potential remedy.

  2. An action plan will contain:

    • A description of each task or action item;

    • The due date or scheduled due date for each task/action item;

  3. Tasks are significant events that mark progress in the project, such as a deliverable or the completion on a phase.

  4. A deliverable is the result of an activity (e.g., a product, service, process, or plan). Interim deliverables may be necessary to produce the final deliverable or product delivered to the customer. In an AP, the final deliverable may be defined as the recommended solution(s) to the problem(s) giving rise to the project.

13.2.2.5.5.3  (07-16-2009)
Project Research

  1. Initial research includes detailed research of case examples, a review of the IRC, Treasury Regulations and applicable IRM sections. Initial research may also include a review of past ARCs, interim guidance memoranda, forms, publications, and OD websites. All research will be documented on SAMS in the "Notes" tab and labeled as "Research."

  2. Additionally, most projects will require data gathering from TAS sources such as the Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System (TAMIS), SAMS and Business Performance Management System (BPMS) as well as research of the Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS) research and other OD systems.

  3. The OSA has several forms to help formulate clear, concise research requests for TAS or the ODs.

  4. The TAS Research Request form, used within the TAS organization, includes four areas that need to be addressed:

    • Explanation of the request for the research;

    • Pertinent background regarding the topic;

    • Explanation of the goal of the research request and expected results; and

    • Formulation of the research question.

  5. The OD and function research request form, used outside TAS, has two areas that need to be addressed:

    • Description of the problem; and

    • Description of the information requested.

  6. The TAMIS research request form, used specifically to request TAMIS data, includes seven areas for the submitter to address:

    • Explain the reason for data request (i.e., Top 20 analysis, Legislative Initiative analysis, Field advocacy issue, Other);

    • Provide pertinent background (i.e., relevant information regarding the history of the issue for which the data is requested);

    • Explain the intended use of data (particularly if the data is being used to provide anecdotal information or to attempt to project to a larger population);

    • Indicate the number of requested cases (e.g., all PCI 950 cases, a specific number of cases, or to determine a sample size);

    • Specify TAMIS query parameters (e.g., all cases belonging to a certain PCI, cases closed or open between specific dates);

    • Specify requested TAMIS fields (open date, tax periods, MFT, criteria code, etc.); and

    • Specify the data format (EXCEL, ACCESS, etc.).

    • See Exhibit 13.2.2-3, TAMIS Research Request.

  7. The TAS Communications Assistance Request template has been prepared to facilitate development and coordination of communication messages within the TAS organization. A Headquarters or AD who needs a message communicated (e.g., a request for case examples for a project) will complete the form and send it to the Director, TAS C&L. See Exhibit 13.2.2-4, TAS Communications Assistance Request (CAR).

  8. When working a project, you may discover you need legal advice. As employees of Systemic Advocacy or Field Systemic Advocacy, any legal advice you would need would generally be provided by the Office of the Special Counsel to the NTA. See Exhibit 13.2.2–5, Memorandum to Request a Counsel Legal Opinion. In rare instances, the field offices of the Division Counsel, Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) division will provide the advice (e.g., you need legal advice about a TAS case rather than a systemic project). The list of SB/SE Counsel contacts can be found on the Special Counsel to the NTA website.

    Note:

    SB/SE should not provide legal advice for the issues listed in paragraph (10) below. See also IRM 12.1.10.2, Obtaining Legal Advice From Chief Counsel.

  9. Request advice on issues personnel, labor, and procurement issues through your local General Legal Services (GLS) office. Seek advice on criminal tax matters from your local Criminal Tax (CT) Counsel office. The lists of GLS and CT contacts can be found on the Special Counsel to the NTA website.

  10. The Special Counsel to the NTA has primary jurisdiction over the following issues:

    • IRC § 7803(c), including the Local Taxpayer Advocate's discretion not to disclose information per the IRC § 7803(c)(4)(A)(iv);

    • IRC § 7811;

    • Taxpayer Advocate Directives;

    • The scope of TAS's statutory authority or delegated authority; and

    • Issues regarding TAS legislative proposals or any other matter related to the NTA's annual reports to Congress.

  11. When legal advice is needed, the project lead should seek advice from the appropriate contact (Special Counsel to the NTA, SB/SE Counsel, GLS counsel, or CT Counsel) through management. See Exhibit 13.2.2-5., Memo for Request for Counsel Assistance. Use this memorandum format when seeking assistance from Counsel. All written requests for Counsel assistance must be routed through a manager, and when appropriate, through the EDSA or the EDCA.


13.2.2.5.5.4  (07-16-2009)
Project Action Dates

  1. Set follow-up or next action dates to provide continuity to the project work.

  2. Document these dates on the "Task" tab on SAMS. The following are criteria for II and AP projects in regards to follow-up dates:

    • If a follow-up date was set, the project lead has 14 calendar days from the follow-up date to take action,

    • If no follow-up date was set, the project lead has 14 calendar days from the last action to take the next action.

13.2.2.5.6  (07-16-2009)
Substantive Actions and Project Responsibilities

  1. Every project follows a basic process of substantive actions:

    • Issue clarification;

    • Issue research;

    • Issue problem validation;

    • Determination of issue scope;

    • Action plan development;

    • Initial management consultation;

    • Execution of approve action plan task;

    • Development of recommendations/issue resolution;

    • Management consultation and concurrence;

    • Continuance of the project task;

    • Preparation of closing documentation; or

    • Project closure.

  2. A project must be worked following this process with no unnecessary delays or periods of inactivity.

  3. Responsibilities for the project leader and/or team members include:

    • Monitoring the progress of the project;

    • Monitoring the progress of the project so that deadlines are met;

    • Communicating with the project leader and members on the progress of the work; and

    • Coordinating the activities of team members.

13.2.2.5.7  (07-16-2009)
Required Internal Coordination

  1. The project lead must ensure that contact is made with a variety of internal partners to seek information and input. These partners may provide informal support to the project or join the project team, with their managers' approval. Document all contacts on SAMS. Internal partners may include:

    • Portfolio Advisors (PA): The NTA has assigned to each LTA an Advocacy Portfolio or portfolios. The PAs maintain a current understanding of the topic, initiate proactive proposals, assist in resolving identified problems, and monitor the program/process. See IRM 13.2.1.3.2.3, Advocacy role of Portfolio Advisor (PA).

    • The TAS Director of TAG (or designee);

    • The LITC Program Director (use email and cc other LITC managers as needed);

    • TAP Director;

    • Other Appropriate HQ Directors, including the Director, ITAP; and

    • Attorney Advisor Manager.

13.2.2.6  (07-16-2009)
Key Contact Information

  1. The DII will secure and update key contact information quarterly. The list is then distributed to the Directors, AP and FSA to facilitate communication among the TAS program offices.

13.2.2.6.1  (07-16-2009)
Project Status Updates

  1. Analysts should update II project status on SAMS every Thursday by noon, using the "Notes" tab and selecting "Status" as the note type.

  2. Analysts should update AP project status on SAMS by the last working day of each month and when a significant action needs to be brought to management’s attention, using the "Notes" tab and selecting "Status" as the note type.

  3. All project status updates must use the following format;

    Issue - LITCs not receiving transcripts when calling the PPS. (Sample verbiage)
    Causes - Inadequate IRM procedures to help IRS employees understand role of an LITC student representative. LITCs not following instructions when submitting POAs - Representative & Taxpayer signatures more than 45 days apart invalidate the POA. Also, LITC POA is valid only 130 days from the time it is received in the CAF unit. (Sample verbiage)
    Actions to Date - IRM updates requested for Collections, Exam & Accounts Management that educated IRS employees about role of student representatives. Submitter has gone out to all LITCs asking for the procedures followed in securing a POA so we can determine a root cause and the extent of the issue (i.e., Is this problem limited to academic LITCs or all LITCs?). (Sample verbiage)
    Actions Remaining - Outreach to LITCs to reinforce submission requirements of POA, and limitations such as 45 day rule and 130 day rule. SERP alert - to all areas dealing with LITCs to alert them of the rights of student representative from LITCs. (Sample verbiage)


13.2.2.6.2  (07-16-2009)
Project Resolution or Remedies

  1. Some projects or proposals will not lend themselves to the exact process stated below. This may be due to expediency or the sensitivity of the issue. OSA management will take part in closing out all projects and will advise staff of what steps to take in these situations.

  2. The Project Lead will recommend to management the most appropriate way to resolve the issue during the project completion phase. The project lead must consider the expediency or sensitivity of the issue and proposal when selecting the method. Project analysis and resolution recommendations will be documented within the executive summary. See Exhibit 13.2.2-6, Executive Summary Template.

  3. Examples of methods to resolve projects include:

    • Informal recommendations to the Operating Division;

    • Administrative recommendations, including programming change requests;

    • Published guidance requests;

    • SERP alerts;

    • Advocacy Proposals (issued by the EDSA);

    • Taxpayer Rights Impact Statement (TRIS) (Issued by the NTA);

    • Proposed Taxpayer Advocate Directive (Issued by the NTA);

    • Taxpayer Advocate Directive (TAD) (Issued by the NTA); and

    • Legislative Recommendation (proposed by the NTA in the Annual Report to Congress).

13.2.2.6.2.1  (07-16-2009)
Informal Agreements

  1. Informal agreements resolve projects without the need for a written Advocacy Proposal. Examples of these agreements that require no signature are as follows:

    • Resolution by VMS;

    • Email;

    • Verbal contact, or

    • Facsimiles.

  2. The project lead must document all informal recommendations on SAMS, using the "Recommendations" tab. This allows OSA to track recommendations sent forward for implementation (e.g., requesting a SERP alert, agreed upon changes to the IRM, etc.).

  3. Informal agreements will require a closing date, closing recommendation, closing contact information for the contact responsible for implementing agreed upon actions, implementation date; and, if necessary, a follow-up date and contact name. Informal agreements should be considered for TAS-wide communication by C&L. See Exhibit 13.2.2-4, TAS Communications Assistance Request.

  4. Any informal agreement should always be discussed with management to determine whether it represents an appropriate resolution to the problem.

13.2.2.6.2.2  (07-16-2009)
Advocacy Proposal

  1. When the Project Lead or team completes research, collects, interprets and analyzes the data, and interacts with the OD or function to resolve the issue at the appropriate level but is unsuccessful, it is appropriate to draft an Advocacy Proposal setting forth the recommended solution(s) or corrective action(s) for the problem. The draft proposal should include:

    1. Introduction -- a separate section one to two pages long, prepared after the proposal is complete, with summary statements from each of the proposal's major headings, which will become the front page of the final report.

    2. Problem Statement -- a brief explanation of the issues and/or problem along with analysis of relevant laws, regulations or procedures.

    3. Agreements Reached -- a detailed description of any agreements reached with the OD or function, to date.

    4. Agreements Needed -- a detailed description of agreements needed with an explanation as to how these agreements will resolve the problem(s).

    5. Requested Action -- a detailed explanation as to what next steps the OD or function should take to resolve the problem.

    6. TAS Contacts -- the names and contact information for the EDSA, the DII or the DAP, as applicable, and the project lead.

  2. The project lead will provide to management a draft of the Advocacy Proposal along with an Executive Summary and pertinent attachments, such as memoranda, letters or other document(s).

  3. If the proposed remedy requires a change to an IRM, the TAS SPOC must be added as a team member so he/she will be aware of the proposal and can monitor the IRM correction request.

  4. Forward advocacy proposals through management channels to the DII or DAP. The DII or DAP, if they agree, will work with the appropriate OD or function program manager to resolve the issue.

  5. If the DII or DAP cannot resolve the issue, forward the advocacy proposal to the EDSA who will work at the executive level for agreement to implement the proposal.

  6. At a minimum, the following major headings should be used in preparing an Advocacy Proposal:

    • Introduction;

    • Problem(s);

    • Agreements reached (if any);

    • Agreements needed;

    • Requested action;

    • TAS contacts; and

    • Attachments.

    See Exhibit 13.2.2-2, Advocacy Proposal Template.

13.2.2.6.2.3  (07-16-2009)
Published Guidance Projects

  1. A Technical or Advocacy Analyst may recommend that published guidance be issued or that existing guidance be revised. When the analyst determines that such action is needed to address the advocacy issue being worked, he or she should take the following steps:

    • Discuss the issue with management for concurrence;

    • Upon management's concurrence, the analyst will prepare a memorandum to the Special Counsel to the National Taxpayer Advocate (CNTA); and

    • Forward, through management, to the EDSA for signature. See Exhibit 132.2–5, Memorandum to Request a Counsel Legal Opinion.

  2. Do not be overly concerned about the form the guidance takes. It could be a Revenue Ruling, Revenue Procedure, Notice, etc. The important thing is to highlight the problem and state why the IRS should change its position or issue guidance in areas where there is none.


13.2.2.6.2.4  (07-16-2009)
Legislative Proposals

  1. Legislative proposals are warranted when changes may be necessary to improve equity or fairness in the tax code, improve service to taxpayers, or reduce taxpayer burden. While the IRS may change its own administrative policies or procedures, only Congress may enact or amend laws. All TAS legislative proposals are submitted to the NTA for potential inclusion in the ARC, which is the only means of transmitting proposed legislation from TAS to Congress. The NTA may also initiate legislative recommendations outside OSA.

    • TAS Administrative Process for Legislative Issues: The project lead or team may determine that a legislative proposal that would change an existing tax law or enact a new one is an appropriate solution to the issues or problems raised by a project. Legislative action is warranted when current law prevents problems from being resolved, or when change might improve service or reduce burden. A legislative proposal is not appropriate for changing IRS operational procedures or processes, revenue procedures, revenue rulings, or existing regulations.

    • The ARC is the only vehicle for transmitting legislative proposals generated by Systemic Advocacy. These proposals are presented as Legislative Recommendations (LRs).

  2. Submit the legislative change proposal to the Senior Advisor to the NTA through OSA management in a brief document that should include the following sections:

    1. Problem - A short description of the problem that the legislative recommendation is designed to solve.

    2. Example - One or more examples illustrating how this problem affects individual or business taxpayers.

    3. Recommendations - A brief explanation of our proposed solution(s) to the problem.

    4. Present Law - An objective, unbiased description of the legal provisions the NTA is proposing to change.

13.2.2.6.3  (07-16-2009)
Closing an Advocacy Project

  1. An advocacy project or immediate intervention will be closed when:

    • Project work is complete;

    • The data analysis supports the conclusion and recommendations; and

    • The DII or DAP approves the closure.

  2. Project leads or Technical Analysts will prepare an Executive Summary containing the elements described in the Executive Summary Template for every project, unless instructed by management not to prepare one. See Exhibit 13.2.2-6. Upon closure to the manager the analyst will update SAMS status to "Submit for closure."

  3. The Executive Summary can be interim or final. A final Executive Summary demonstrates how the project lead reached the proposed resolution of the project. An interim Executive Summary sets forth the research and analysis performed to date and seeks direction from the FSA manager, FSA Director, the DII, or the DAP on how to proceed.

  4. Before submitting a project for closing, the project lead will review the documentation to ensure that:

    • Data analysis supports the conclusion;

    • Tax law and IRM procedures were applied and interpreted correctly;

    • All related issues were correctly addressed; (Issues that arise that are found to be related to the project must be addressed. There are no requirements to resolve all related issues. It is important that the related issues are forwarded to the individual who can address them).

    • All necessary internal and external contacts have been made (Attorney Advisors, LITC, TAP, CNTA, Sr. Advisor to NTA, PA, BA, TAG, V&S, C&L, and TAS research. This is not an all inclusive list).

    • Submitter contacts are made appropriately. Telephone contact should be attempted first, as follows: Immediately upon telephone contact, tell the taxpayer or representative your name, your job title and your unique employee identification number. If you do not make telephone contact, your initial letter to the customer must contain the above identifying information. This will satisfy the requirements of RRA98 § 3705. See IRM 13.1.2.3, RRA98 § 3705, Identify Yourself.

    • Written communications as per IRM 1.10.1, IRS Correspondence Manual, are grammatically correct and free from spelling errors.

    • Appropriate actions have been taken to educate or communicate changes and clarifications to various stakeholders. (Educating the submitter via a closing letter is not considered for this purpose. Resolution of a project may require that TAS deliver education to various stakeholders. Appropriate channels include posting to the TAS intranet homepage at: http://tas.web.irs.gov , the Internet site at www.irs.gov/advocate, the Wednesday Weekly, or another TAS newsletter).

  5. Project closure files should include all SAMS prints, documentation, signed closing letters, and executive summaries. Upon closure of the project, the project file will be forwarded to the centralized location below:

    Internal Revenue Service

    Taxpayer Advocate Service

    1111 Constitution Ave, N.W., Room 7704

    Washington, D.C. 20224

    Attn.: (Name needed)

13.2.2.6.4  (07-16-2009)
Submitter Closing Notification

  1. Once the project is closed, the project lead, through OSA, will notify the submitter of the result of his or her advocacy submission.

  2. A closing letter is the expected method of notification, and the DII or DAP must approve any other method. Closing letters are signed by the DII and DAP if the originator is an IRS employee. Closing letters on projects initiated by submitters outside the IRS, are signed by the EDSA. See IRM 13.1.2.3, RRA 98 § 3705, Identify Yourself.


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