22.30.1  Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication

Manual Transmittal

September 25, 2014

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 22.30.1, Wage and Investment Outreach Procedures, Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication.

Material Changes

(1) IRM 22.30.1.3.2.1.1 (1), Partner Endorsements section was amended to reflect updated requirements for partner endorsements.

(2) IRM 22.30.1.3.2.1.1 (2), Partner Endorsements caution statement was removed from section and now reflects updated information for approved Counsel statements.

(3) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1, Types of VITA and TCE Courses (Volunteers) section on Basic and Advanced was updated.

(4) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.5.3, Military, title changed to Military from Military VITA and subsequent sections updated. Military replaces Armed Forces TaxCounsel (AFTC).

(5) IRM 22.30.1 3.7.1.5.3 (8), Oversee Military VITA Training replaced Form 13206, SPEC Volunteer Assistance Report

(6) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.5.3 (9) Minimum Qualifications to Instruct Overseas replaced Quality Statistical Sample (QSS) Reviews (12)

(7) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.5.3 (10), Selected Overseas Military VITA Instructor, replaced Volunteer Certificates.

(8) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.5.3 (11) Overseas Travel Period, replaced Tax Return Preparation Reporting.

(9) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.5.3 (12), Overseas Military VITA Timeline section added to reflect timeline for SPEC to meet with Military.

(10) IPU 14U0280 issued 02-07-2014 IRM 22.30.1.3.10.2, Prior Year Return Preparation - Updated to reflect Field Assistance will not provide return preparation service in 2014.

(11) IPU 14U0297 issued 02-10-2014 IRM 22.30.1.3.13.4 - 100 Percent Review of VITA and TCE Grant Partners - section deleted as current guidance does not require Territory offices to complete return reviews during Field Site Visits.

(12) IPU 14U0297 issued 02-10-2014 IRM 22.30.1.3.13.5 through IRM 22.30.1.3.14.2 renumbered due to deletion of IRM 22.30.1.3.13.4.

(13) IPU 14U0297 issued 02-10-2014 IRM 22.30.1.3.13.6.1 (renumbered to IRM 22.30.1.3.13.5.1 due to deletion of IRM 22.30.1.3.13.4) modified to include language pertaining to VITA and TCE grant partners.

(14) IPU 14U0332 issued 02-18-2014 IRM 22.30.1.3.13.11(7) Volunteer Registry - modified to add notification from area director to partner/volunteers being placed on Registry.

(15) IPU 14U0332 issued 02-18-2014 IRM 22.30.1.3.13.11(8) Volunteer Registry - created to state the role of the territory manager and tax consultant.

(16) IPU 14U0409 issued 02-28-2014 IRM 22.30.1.3(5) - section modified to add paragraph which provides further clarification with regard to VITA/TCE income requirements.

(17) IPU 14U0428 issued 03-04-2014 IRM 22.30.1.3.8.2.2, added section on Accommodating Persons with Disabilities Referred from Taxpayer Assistance Centers

(18) IPU 14U0677 issued 04-10-2014 IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.5.1(4), Updated section on Foreign Students and Scholars Program Training for responses to international questions with link for assistance with tax questions, general information and email address.

(19) IPU 14U0677 issued 04-10-2014 IRM 22.30.1.3.14.2, Removed second bullet on toll-free number for questions in the section titled, Technical Inquiries.

(20) IRM 22.30.1.1.4.6, Number of Volunteers (Form 13206, Volunteer Assistance Summary Report) added the word "except" before AARP volunteers.

(21) IRM 22.30.1.1.4.7, Form 14310 VITA/TCE Volunteer Recruitment Referral Process, added section VITA/TCE Volunteer Recruitment Referral Process

(22) IRM 22.30.1.1.4.8, VITA/TCE Return Preparation Accuracy section (formerly VRPP Quality Rating) renumbered due to addition of new section 22.30.1.1.4.7

(23) IRM 22.30.1.3 (1), Volunteer Return Preparation Overview added text "or Form 13533-A, FSA Remote Sponsor Agreement" .

(24) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.2.2 (1) and (2), Printed Training Products section was revised to clarify when training products are available and where they are located.

(25) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.3, Link and Learn Taxes (LLT) changed number of VITA/TCE courses from nine to eight; Deleted text "SPEC's Product Pro contains marketing tools.. is also available on irs.gov" .

(26) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.5.1, Foreign Students and Scholar Program Training, removed the "s on Student" ; Revised section to list additional options for volunteers with international questions.

(27) IRM , 22.30.1.3.7.1.7, VITA Retest-All Volunteer Training revised text "Volunteers can access the online test at www.linklearn certification.com" .

(28) IRM , 22.30.1.3.7.1.8, Course and Instructor Evaluations revised text regarding course evaluations and survey.

(29) IRM , 22.301.3.7.1.10, Continuing Education (CE) Credit for Enrolled Agents and Other Tax Return Preparers (OTRP) updated entire section to change Link and Learn Taxes to Link and Learn Taxes.

(30) IRM , 22.30.1.3.7.1.10(1), Continuing Education (CE) Credit for Enrolled Agents and Other Tax Return Preparers (OTRP) updated text to show abbreviation for enrolled agents (EA) and other registered return preparers (OTRP).

(31) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.10(3), Continuing Education (CE) Credit for Enrolled Agents and Other Tax Return Preparers (OTRP) removed "T" from the first word in the sentence.

(32) IRM , 22.30.1.3.7.1.10(8), Continuing Education (CE) Credit for Enrolled Agents and Other Tax Return Preparers (OTRP) removed the space before the comma after Conduct Agreement.

(33) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.10 (8) (d), Continuing Education (CE) Credit for Enrolled Agents and Other Tax Return Preparers (OTRP) corrected spelling of the word specialty.

(34) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.10(11), Continuing Education (CE) Credit for Enrolled Agents and Other Tax Return Preparers (OTRP) added the word Individual.

(35) IRM , 22.30.1.3.7.1.10.1(1), Connecting EA or OTRP to Partners removed text "broken down" and replaced it with "listed by" .

(36) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.10.4 (1) (e), Connecting EA or OTRP to Partners removed text and replaced it with Territory responsibility regarding Form 13615, Volunteer Standards of Conduct Agreement - VITA/TCE Programs

(37) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.10.6.7, Headquarters(HQ) Office Role added section regarding how long and where Form 13615 will be maintained.

(38) IRM 22.30.1.3.7.1.12(6), Standards of Conduct (Ethics) Training and Certification added text "or Form 13533-A, FSA Remote Sponsor Agreement" .

(39) IRM 22.30.1.3.10.2, Prior Year Return Preparation first sentence removed as IRM 21.3.4.10, no longer contains prior year return preparation information.

(40) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.1, Volunteer Certification reworded text in entire section regarding training and minimum certification.

(41) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.1(12), Volunteer Certification deleted subsection.

(42) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.1.1, Volunteer Certification Non-compliance corrected word Non-compliance; added text regarding the Intake/Interview and Quality Review Process.

(43) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.2(1),(2) and (5), Intake and Interview Process added text regarding supporting documents required for potential dependents listed on tax return. Deleted #2

(44) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.2.1 (1) and (2), Intake and Interview Process Non-compliance, corrected word "Non-compliance" in title; further explained non-compliant issue of site not using Form 13614-C and required actions by RM to address non-compliance.

(45) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.3, Quality Review Returns renamed Section- Quality Review Process; added text regarding requirement for sites to have a Quality Review Process in place; removed 2nd bullet in paragraph 2

(46) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.3.1,(1) and (2), Quality Review Process Non-Compliance changed section title to "Quality Review Process Non-compliance" , further explained non-compliant issue of site not having a quality review in place and required actions by RM to address non-compliance.

(47) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.5, Volunteer Agreement added the words "annually" and" and dating" .

(48) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.5.1(2), (3), (4) and (5), Volunteer Agreement Non-Compliance corrected text by replacing "in" with "inform" ; added the words "and dated" ; changed who the reviewer should contact if a violation occurs from the TM to Manager; added text which states that Publication 4836 is required to be displayed at the site; revised action by RM.

(49) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.6 (1) and (3), Timely Filing of Tax Returns added text regarding Form 8879; edited follow-up actions required by RM.

(50) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.7, Civil Rights Information is Provided to All Taxpayers changed text regarding current Publication 4053 (English and Spanish) being displayed at the site.

(51) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.10 (5) and (6), Security, Privacy, and Confidentiality Guidelines added text to #5 regarding SPEC's action to prevent ID theft; #5 "Additional Resources." becomes #6.

(52) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.10.1, Non-Compliance with Security, Privacy and Confidentiality Guidelines hanged text: required follow-up actions by RM.

(53) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.1.11, Discontinuance of IRS Support changed text regarding discontinuance of IRS support.

(54) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.4.2, Assigning Sites removed the word cadre.

(55) IRM , 22.30.1.3.13.4.3, Pre-Research added text to tools listed.

(56) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.4.6 (1) and (2), Explaining the Visit to the Site Coordinator split the section, edited text and added subsection 2

(57) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.4.8 (1) and (2), Selecting and Conducting the Return Reviews added text "This process is followed until three returns have been revised." to first paragraph; added Document 13132, Form 6729-R Job Aid to first paragraph; changed definition of when a return is considered accurate in paragraph 2.

(58) IRM, 22.30.1.3.13.4.9 (2), Conducting the Site Review revised text to explain action of reviewer using Form 6729.

(59) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.4.11, Verbal Feedback with Site Coordinator revised text to include actions the reviewer should take to assist the site to become compliant; added subsection 2 regarding VSC violations.

(60) IRM , 22.30.1.3.13.4.12, Completing the Quality Database changed "Wednesday" to "Tuesday"

(61) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.4.13 (1) and (2), changed section title to Post Review Notification; revised section to include verbiage Post Review Courtesy E-mail and Post Review Information Request E-mail.

(62) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.4.13.1, Final Written Result added section "Completing the Database" .

(63) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.4.14, Relationship Manager Follow-up Actions revised text regarding the Post Review Information Request E-mail.

(64) IRM , 22.30.1.3.13.5.2, Conducting Field Site Visits revised text to remove the word added at the beginning of last sentence.

(65) IRM , 22.30.1.3.13.6.1.3 (1), (2) and (3), Making an Internal Referral revised section to state that employees should send referral to their manager instead of sending an email to wi.voltax@irs.gov

(66) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.6.2.4 (1), VolTax Referrals added text "they may witness or experience at sites" .

(67) IRM , 22.30.1.3.13.6.2.5 (1), Headquarters Responsibility for VolTax added text "concerning volunteers or sites" .

(68) IRM , 22.30.1.3.13.6.2.5 (2), Headquarters Responsibility for VolTax modified section to reflect change in process for VolTax referrals.

(69) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.10 (1), Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) Shopping Review section amended to read that at TIGTA discretion they may choose to conduct Shopping Reviews.

(70) IRM 22.30.1.3.13.12 (1) and (2), Performance Reviews revised section to state that TM conduct Performance Reviews during field site visits etc; added text regarding Form 14526, Field Site Visit Employee Performance Review Sheet.

(71) IRM 22.30.1.3.14.1, Responsibilities for Foreign Student/Scholar Program revised section to list additional options for volunteers with international questions.

(72) IRM 22.30.1.3.14.2, Technical Inquiries revised section to list additional options for volunteers with international questions.

(73) IRM 22.30.1.3.15.4 (2), Third Party Data Store, section updated to reflect Integrated Enterprise Portal (IEP), instead of the Registered User Portal (RUP). In August, 2013 the functions of the Registered User Portal (RUP) were integrated into the Integrated Enterprise Portal (IEP). All references to RUP should be replaced with IEP.

(74) IRM 22.30.1.3.16.1, SPECTRM Partners Module added text -a contact with the Partner Survey role should be linked to each partner in SPECTRM. The annual Partner Survey will be sent to this designated contact.

(75) IRM 22.30.1.3.16.1.1, Documenting Potential Partners in SPECTRM added section Documenting Potential Partners in SPECTRM.

(76) IRM 22.30.1.3.16.3.3 (4), SPECTRM Annual Review changed Product Program Office to PSA.

(77) IRM 22.30.1.3.16.4 (2), SPECTRM Equipment Module changed "contact or partner" to "contact and partner" .

(78) IRM 22.30.1.4.1, Privacy and Confidentiality – A Public Trust revised section to add third purpose of the VSC.

(79) IRM 22.30.1.4.2 (2), Computers for Volunteers changed SPEC to IRS.

(80) IRM 22.30.1.4.2.11.1.2 (a), Headquarters' Responsibilities Field Assistance removed

(81) IRM 22.30.1.4.2.11.1.3 (1) (b), Tax Software- Area Responsibilities deleted note: Sites electing to Software License Exception 3 are excluded from the minimum 35 return requirement.

(82) IRM 22.30.1.4.2.11.1.4 (1) (a), Tax Software Territory Responsibilities deleted text "or Form 13324, IRS Civil Rights Assurance for Sub-recipients under SPEC Partnership Agreements" .

(83) IRM 22.30.1.4.2.11.1.4 (1) (b), Tax Software Territory Responsibilities added new minimum return requirement for software orders; Moved TM authority to a new paragraph; Renumbered paragraphs c through h to d through i.

(84) IRM 22.30.1.5.1.1 (1) Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) was updated to say Public instead of Publication and the full text describing the law was added.

(85) IRM 22.30.1.5.3.1, Eligibility Standards eligibility Standards updated to incorporate suggested changes made by the Office of Chief Counsel and add the web address for checking the State’s participating under Executive Order 12372.

(86) IRM 22.30.1.5.3.1 (1e) Eligibility Standards updated to confirm TCE grants can be given to Indian tribal government.

(87) IRM 22.30.1.5.3.3, Civil Rights Reporting Requirements civil Rights Reporting Requirements updated to reflect correct address and phone number of Civil Rights Division and new policy surrounding requirement to display Publication 4053 (English and Spanish), Your Civil Rights Are Protected and updated to show full website of where TCE / VITA Civil Rights Publications can be found.

(88) IRM 22.30.1.5.3.4 (1), Audit Requirements section updated to mention the threshold is rising, according to Publication 4671.

(89) IRM 22.30.1.5.3.5.1 (1), Corporate Felony Convictions updated to remove the reference to 2012 appropriation. The restriction still applies but under different (later/renewed) authority. Publication. 4671 has dropped the citation when discussing the requirement.

(90) IRM 22.30.1.5.3.5.2, Trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 trafficking Victims Protection Act of 2000 updated to incorporate suggested changes made by the Office of Chief Counsel.

(91) IRM 22.30.1.5.3.5.4, Other Applicable Laws and Regulations updated to incorporate suggested changes by the Office of Chief Counsel.

(92) IRM 22.30.1.5.3.6.2, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Grant Reports updated to delete the requirement to file Performance Progress Report (PPR-B) Program Indicators and add the requirement to include the Final Site Listing.

(93) IRM 22.30.1.5.4.1 (4), Use of a Universal Identifier by Grant Applicants phone numbers were corrected to 866-705-5711 and the TTY number to 877-807-1679.

(94) IRM 22.30.1.5.4.3.1 (1), Grants.gov was updated to delete the last clause about e-gov initiatives per Chief Counsel's approved recommendation

(95) IRM 22.30.1.5.4.3.2 Grants.gov Registration updated to show full address of grants.gov.

(96) IRM 22.30.1.5.4.4, TCE and VITA Grant Program Application updated to reflect current contact for FOIA requests and to make editorial changes.

(97) IRM 22.30.1.5.5.1, Receipt and Control updated to show the change in the sequential number for VITA and TCE grant case file.

(98) IRM 22.30.1.5.5.2 (2), Application Completeness and Eligibility Processing tax-exempt replaced non-profit per Chief Counsel's recommendation

(99) IRM 22.30.1.5.5.3 Ranking Panel Evaluation of Application Packages updated for editorial changes.

(100) IRM 22.30.1.5.5.4.1, Tax Counseling for the Elderly updated for editorial changes

(101) IRM 22.30.1.5.5.4.2 Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Grant updated for editorial changes.

(102) IRM 22.30.1.5.6, Program Monitoring updated for an editorial change.

(103) IRM 22.30.1.5.6 (5) Program Monitoring tax exempt replaces non-profit per Chief Counsel's recommendation.

(104) IRM 22.30.1 5.6 (9), Program Monitoring updated to reflect the audit threshold increased

(105) IRM 22.30.1.5.6.2, Sub-Award Reporting the text is lifted in part from grant agreement terms and conditions in Form 13981 according to Chief Counsel's recommendation. Para 3 was deleted

(106) IRM 22.30.1.5.6.4.2 (3), Fiscal Agents, updated to reflect, recipients organization must prepare the Form 1199-A. Direct Deposit Sign-up Form and second sentence Form 1199 is for the Fiscal Agent and all sections must be completed was deleted.

(107) IRM 22.30.1.5.7.1, GPO Web-page updated to show full web addresses to apply for the VITA and TCE grants.

(108) IRM 22.30.1.5.8.1, SPEC Headquarters Offices Responsibilities updated for editorial changes.

(109) IRM 22.30.1.5.8.2, SPEC area office Responsibilities updated for editorial changes.

(110) IRM 22.30.1.5.9 (6), Grant Program Office Referrals changed 2154 to 215.

(111) IRM 22.30.1.5.9.1(1), Financial Reviewer Responsibilities changed responsibility of Financial Reviewers.

(112) IRM 22.30.1.5.9.1 (6), Financial Reviewer Responsibilities added text "Case files will be set up on the 20XX Financial Review Shared Drive" .

(113) IRM 22.30.1.5.9.1.3.4 (3), Report Preparation removed text.

(114) IRM 22.30.1.5.9.1.3.4 (4), Report Preparation updated section to reflect which Letters should be sent after information is received and to whom.

(115) IRM 22.30.1.5.9.1.4 (2), Correspondence Reviews removed 7th bullet- Form 14100.

(116) IRM 22.30.1.5.9.1.4 (2), Correspondence Reviews removed 8th bullet- Form 14353.

(117) IRM 22.30.1.5.9.1.4 (2), Correspondence Reviews removed the word VITA.

(118) IRM 22.30.1.5.9.1.5 (3), Post Site Review revised text- "send copy of letter 4909 and signed Form 14355 to the Grant Program Office" .

(119) IRM 22.30.1.5.9.1.5 (3), Post Site Review revised text- "Sponsor can submit additional information or request conference with manager to address issues(s). Once resolved, send Letter 4910 with Form 14355 to sponsor with a copy to the Grant Program Office" .

(120) IRM , 22.30.1.10 (3), Partner Survey added text -bullet #3 regarding SPEC survey population.

(121) IRM 22.30.1.10.1 (4), Headquarters Responsibilities revised text to include additional partner contact information for partner survey.

(122) IRM 22.30.1.10.3 (1), Verifying SPEC Partner Contact Information revised guidance regarding verification of SPEC partner contact information.

(123) IRM 22.30.1.10.3 (2), Verifying SPEC Partner Contact Information added new section regarding SPECTRM reports.

(124) IRM 22.30.1.10.3.1 (2), SPEC Area and Territory Responsibilities added new section regarding steps Territories should take to identify partners who will be surveyed.

(125) SPEC Intranet section updated to add bullet on Fact Sheet/Talking Points and Alternate Filing Options bullet was deleted.

(126) IRM 22.30.1.12.1.2, SPEC Intranet Procedures and Processes section amended to indicate respond to the originator within 21 calendar days of receipt.

(127) IRM 22.30.1.12.2, Get to The Point is now listed due to the SPEC Best Practice Repository section being deleted and relative subsections were renumbered.

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 22.30.1, dated September 26, 2013 (effective October 1, 2013), is superseded. This IRM also incorporates the following IRM Procedural Updates (IPUs), issued between 02/07/14 through 04/10/2014: 14U0280, 14U0297, 14U0332, 14U0409, 14U0428, and 14U0677.

Audience

All Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC) employees and managers

Effective Date

(10-01-2014)

Dietra D. Grant
Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication
Wage and Investment Division

22.30.1.1  (10-01-2013)
What is Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication

  1. Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC) is the outreach and education function of IRS Wage and Investment (W&I) Division. SPEC’s mission is to assist taxpayers in satisfying their tax responsibilities by building and maintaining partnerships with key stakeholders who seek to create and share value by informing, educating, and communicating with our shared customers.

  2. SPEC achieves its mission by combining resources and goals with other organizations for better access to lower income and underserved populations in local communities. This approach, known as a "leveraged" approach, places an emphasis on partner involvement and introduces relationship management as a key element in its operations.

  3. SPEC’s partners are organizations of all types—corporate, faith-based, non-profit, educational, financial, government and military—that share the same customer base as SPEC. SPEC customers are generally low to moderate income taxpayers who file Form 1040,U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

  4. Community coalition members work together to help lower income people in their own neighborhoods. As such, the coalitions have greater access to taxpayers, higher potential for expanded resources, and own the important intangibles of taxpayers’ credibility and trust. By working with the coalitions of partners, SPEC can more effectively achieve its mission.

  5. SPEC uses a three-pronged approach to serving the W&I taxpayer: Tax Preparation, Tax Education (Outreach), and Financial Education and Asset Building.

    1. Tax Preparation - Working together with partners to prepare tax returns is the first component of the SPEC approach. The well known volunteer tax preparation programs (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)) draw involvement from community leaders who have common goals and customers.

    2. Tax Education - Partners often reach out with helpful tax information to people who can benefit from it. Partners in coalitions educate families about tax issues like the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), filing responsibilities, and locations of tax assistance, among others. This is the second component of SPEC's three-pronged approach.

    3. Financial Education and Asset Building - Encouraging financial responsibility is the third component of SPEC’s three-pronged business model. SPEC and its partners educate low income taxpayers about asset-building opportunities by collaborating to provide taxpayers with the information, knowledge and skills needed to evaluate their financial options and make informed financial decisions. See IRM 22.30.1.3.10.5, Financial Education and Asset Building (FEAB).

  6. In conjunction with partner organizations, SPEC sponsors several programs that are designed to reach the W&I taxpayer from the high school level to retirement age with information and tax return assistance.

  7. SPEC programs are administered in compliance with Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, which states that the IRS has a legal obligation to ensure that taxpayers with disabilities have an equal opportunity to participate in or enjoy the benefits of an IRS activity or program.

22.30.1.1.1  (10-01-2013)
Acronyms and Abbreviations

  1. The following is a list of commonly used acronyms and abbreviations in SPEC. Additional acronyms are defined within this IRM or may be obtained from the Acronym Database

    Acronyms and Abbreviations Description
    BOE Business Objects Enterprise
    E-Filing Electronic Filing
    E-Services Electronic Services
    EITC Earned Income Tax Credit
    FEAB Financial Education and Asset Building
    FMR Field Media Relations
    FSA Facilitated Self Assistance
    HQ Headquarters
    IMT Inventory Management Tool
    KBI Key Business Indicator
    NAB National Asset Building
    NHQ National Headquarters
    SPECTRM SPEC Total Relationship Management
    PBT Process Based Training
    PLA Property Loan Agreement
    QNA Quantity Needs Assessment
    QNS Quantity Needs Survey
    SL Stakeholder Liaison
    TCE Tax Counseling for the Elderly
    UT Understanding Taxes
    VV Virtual VITA
    VITA Volunteer Income Tax Assistance

22.30.1.1.2  (10-01-2013)
SPEC Business Model - Concept of Operations (ConOps)

  1. The SPEC Business Model – Concept of Operations (ConOps) has five guiding principles. Four of the five principles listed in the ConOps are aligned with the IRS objectives under Goal 1- Deliver high quality and timely service to reduce taxpayer burden and encourage voluntary compliance. The fifth principle is one of the IRS objectives under the Strategic Foundations – Empower employees with the tools and training to further develop skill proficiency and improve business performance. The SPEC Guiding Principles are:

    • Incorporate taxpayers' perspectives to improve all service interactions

    • Expedite and improve issue resolution across all interactions with taxpayers, making it easier to navigate the IRS

    • Provide taxpayers with targeted, timely guidance and outreach

    • Strengthen partnerships with tax practitioners, tax preparers, and other third parties in order to ensure effective tax administration

    • Make the IRS the best place to work in government

  2. Each guiding principle also has significant actions to help the organization realize its mission, as outlined in the SPEC Business Model.

22.30.1.1.3  (10-01-2014)
Organizational Structure

  1. For information on SPEC's organization structure, see IRM 1.1.13.7.5, Wage and Investment Division.

22.30.1.1.4  (10-01-2012)
Measures Reporting

  1. The official annual SPEC count of sites and local partners will be determined by the Products, Systems and Analysis (PSA) group as of February 15th or the first business day thereafter if February 15th falls on a weekend or holiday.

    Note:

    This does not change the requirement that all active sites must be entered into the SPEC Total Relationship Management (SPECTRM) information system by January 15th entered annually.

  2. The official annual number of national partners and coalitions will be determined by the National Partnerships (NP) group. The sources of all of this data will be contained and extracted in SPECTRM except for the number of coalitions, which will be extracted from The Point, until SPECTRM has the capability to capture this data.

  3. SPEC Headquarters submits weekly filing season and monthly Program Activity Code (PAC 1C) reports as directed by Customer Assistance Relationships and Education (CARE) Headquarters:

    • The monthly and cumulative planned data is provided for the current year via PAC 1C report.

    • Monthly and cumulative fiscal year data is provided for the current year and the previous two years via PAC 1C report.

    • Cumulative performance data that is more or less than 10 percent of the previous year's performance and/or current year cumulative target required anomaly statements.

  4. SPEC uses the following methodology to calculate Number of Returns Prepared by Volunteer Return Programs;

    • Two sources are used to capture the number of returns prepared by Volunteer return programs. The Site Identification Number (SIDN) report is the source for paper and FSA prepared returns. The ELF 1541 report is the source for e-file returns.

    • Fiscal Year returns are calculated by the sum of paper, e-file, and FSA returns for the periods October 1 through December 31 plus calendar or filing season period January 1 to September 30.

    • The calculation of the number of paper and e-file returns for the period October through December requires an additional step since the IMF report is cumulative for the period January 1 to December 31 and the ELF 1541 report is cumulative for the period January 1 to October 20. The number of paper returns for the period October 1 to December 31, 20xx is calculated by subtracting the cumulative number of returns to September 30, 20xx from the cumulative number of returns to December 31, 20xx. The number of e-file returns for the period October 1, 20xx to October 20, 20xx is calculated by subtracting the cumulative number of returns to October 20, 20xx.

      Note:

      Note: Fiscal Year is October 1 September 30. Calendar year is from January 1 through December 31.

    How to calculate total number of returns for calendar and fiscal years Methodology
    How to calculate the total number of returns filed is the sum of paper and e-file returns filed Number of e-file Returns for FY xx (plus) the Number of paper Returns for FY xx (plus) total Number of FSA Paper/Efile Returns for xx (=) equals the total number of returns prepared Fiscal Year xx
    How to calculate Fiscal Year E-file Returns is sum of returns filed from October 1 through December 31 and January 1 through September 30 E-file returns filed from October 1, to October 20, (plus) e-filed returns from January 1, to September 30, (=) the Number of e-file Returns for Fiscal Year xx
    How to calculate Fiscal Year paper Returns is sum of returns October through December and January to September 30 Paper returns filed from October 1, to December 31, (plus) Paper returns filed from January 1, to September 30, (=) number of paper returns filed for Fiscal Year.
    How to calculate Calendar Year E-file Returns is sum of returns filed from January through September 30 E-file returns filed from January 1, to September 30, (=) the Number of e-file Returns for Calendar Year xx.
    How to calculate Calendar Year paper Returns is sum of returns from January to September 30 Paper returns filed from January 1, to September 30, (=) number of paper returns filed for Calendar Year.
  5. There are 3 External Measures shown on Weekly Measures and Monthly PAC 1C report:

    • Outcome Measures: Percent of Returns Prepared Electronically by SPEC Volunteers

      Note:

      This measure reflects the percentage of individual (Form 1040, Form 1040A and Form 1040 EZ) returns transmitted electronically by SPEC partners and Volunteers. Anticipate the percentage of e-file returns to decrease slightly as more paper returns are processed.

    • Output Measure: Number of Returns Prepared

    • Balanced Measures: Surveys are administered annually by the following surveys: Partner Satisfaction (Formerly Local Partner Satisfaction) and Partner Dissatisfaction (Formerly Local Partner Dissatisfaction).

      Note:

      VITA/TCE Return Preparation Accuracy (formerly VRPP Quality Rating): SPEC employees will continue to conduct shopping and return reviews. To measure the accuracy of volunteer return preparation at VITA/TCE sites is also calculated using shopping and return reviews. Return preparation quality is determined through on-site reviews of completed returns. These reviews determine the application of tax law by comparing a customer prepared questionnaire (Intake Sheet) to the filing status, dependents, and EITC application on the return.

  6. SPEC Weekly/Monthly Reports Guidelines.

22.30.1.1.4.1  (10-01-2012)
Program Performance and Reporting

  1. The sections that follow provide guidance on SPEC Programs and reporting procedures.

22.30.1.1.4.2  (10-01-2012)
SPEC Weekly/Monthly Reports Guidelines

  1. ELF 1541 report – pull the “MIDNIGHT” drain during filing season.

  2. ELF 1541 report – pull the “NOON” during non peak season (5/1/xx-9/30/xx).

  3. For the weekly measures report pull ELF 1541 report on the Monday following the Sunday midnight drain. ELF 1541 report – area reports are only available on Mondays, Non-Profit Organization Summary Report is available as needed.

  4. The SIDN report is only available on Tuesday after 6:00 pm.

  5. SPEC Return Production are due weekly by 12 noon on Wednesdays.

  6. PAC 1C – due monthly – refer to CARE monthly due date report.

  7. Update all “HEADER and FOOTERS” on all Excel spreadsheets.

  8. Update all tabs in the Excel spreadsheets.

  9. SPEC weekly report should be routed using the Staff Summary routing slip, requesting the signature of Chief of SPM. The file should include an Executive Briefing – Refer to Sample (The routing procedure may vary depending on the Chief of SPM.)

  10. Post all weekly and monthly reports to the Public Folders.

  11. Special permissions are needed to access the ELF 1541 and SIDN reports. Contact manager for further instructions to request access.

  12. Last day for access to TaxWise Reports is Sept. 30.

  13. For assistance with the SIDN report contact Donna Raburn 404-338-8602.

  14. For assistance with the ELF 1541 report contact Janice Faulk 512-460-4562.

  15. TaxWise is available on Tuesday during filing season and monthly after filing season. Refer to public folder. (Password SPEC123!).

22.30.1.1.4.3  (10-01-2013)
Data Dictionary

  1. The SPEC Data Dictionary lists and defines each of the performance measures by which SPEC tracks and reports its accomplishments externally. The Data Dictionary lists and briefly describes the internal measures, entitled Key Business Indicators, used by SPEC management to gauge the success of SPEC initiatives and to determine how to effectively employ limited resources to best reach SPEC objectives.

22.30.1.1.4.4  (10-01-2012)
Return Prepared Taxpayer Contacts

  1. SPEC will only obtain the number of returns prepared at volunteer tax preparation sites from the IMF or CADE2 Report, Site Identification Workbook, and the ELF (Electronic Filing System) 1541 Report. These reports provide the total number of paper and electronic returns filed by SPEC's volunteer programs.

22.30.1.1.4.5  (10-01-2012)
Number of Sites

  1. SPEC reports the number and location of VITA, Military VITA, TCE, VITA Grant and co-located sites. A site is counted only one time per filing season when the site opens. All tax preparation sites are counted including sites open one-day a week for several weeks during the filing season, appointment only, and sites closed to the general public, etc. All sites, including sites open for one day should be entered in SPECTRM.

    Note:

    All sites, including sites open for one or two days during the filing season, covered by VITA or TCE Grant recipients must be input into SPECTRM.

  2. Sites are classified as either direct or leveraged (indirect). The definitions listed below offer guidance in determining if a tax preparation site is direct or indirect/leveraged. These definitions do not eliminate the use of judgment. Do not focus on one element from the definition for direct sites, such as "provide training" , and conclude that because SPEC provides training to a site that it should be considered a direct site. Each site must be analyzed on its own merit in determining whether it is a direct or indirect/leveraged site.

    • A Direct Site is defined as a site in which a SPEC employee provides site support that includes, but is not limited to, soliciting space, recruitment of volunteers, providing training, installing computers, providing computer trouble-shooting, site management, preparing site reports, overseeing the day-to-day operation, etc. If a SPEC partner only provides space and the IRS does everything else, the site is considered a direct site.

    • An Indirect/Leveraged Site is defined as a site in which a SPEC Partner provides site support that includes, but is not limited to, providing the space, recruitment of volunteers, providing training to the volunteers, site management, preparing the site reports, overseeing the day-to-day operations, or a combination of these items, etc. The only services or resources provided by the IRS are relationship management, consultative services, train the trainer classes, tax software for electronic filing, tax content for marketing materials, tax law expertise, and research data to assist in placing sites.

      Note:

      All military and TCE tax preparation sites are considered leveraged sites.

22.30.1.1.4.6  (10-01-2014)
Number of Volunteers (Form 13206, Volunteer Assistance Summary Report)

  1. SPEC is required to report the number of volunteers assisting with the VITA/TCE Programs. SPEC is also required to count and report the number and certification level(s) of all volunteers.

  2. Partners and military VITA sites are required to report the names, positions, and certification levels for every volunteer. For additional information on training and certification levels, refer to IRM 22.30.1.3.7 .VITA and TCE Training

  3. Partners and military VITA sites must report all volunteers on Form 13206, Volunteer Assistance Summary Report, or similar listing containing the same information by February 3rd and the 3rd business day of each month as new volunteers report to the site. Instruction for preparing a volunteer listing is included on Form 13206, Volunteer Assistance Summary Report.

  4. Except for AARP volunteers, SPEC territories will record the number of their local volunteers from Form 13206, Volunteer Assistance Summary Report, or similar listing containing the same information in the Production Module in SPECTRM. To input volunteer counts:

    1. Go to SPECTRM Production Module.

    2. Select Form 13206,Volunteer Assistance Summary Report..

    3. Search for one site of the partner (search for one military site within the territory to report all volunteer counts).

    4. Add the total number of volunteers assigned to the partner. As partners report new volunteers, add the new volunteer count to the existing count.

    5. Ensure all volunteer counts are “Approved” by the territory office.

    6. Repeat this for every assigned partner.

    7. Refer to the SPECTRM User Guide for step-by-step directions.

  5. Territory offices should ensure all partner volunteer totals (except AARP volunteers) are recorded into SPECTRM within fourteen calendar days of receipt.

  6. Territory offices will record the total number of military volunteer counts for their territory into SPECTRM under one local military VITA site listed in SPECTRM.

  7. Territory offices must ensure all partner and military VITA site volunteer totals (except AARP volunteers) are recorded into SPECTRM by May 15 to be included in the official number of volunteer count.

  8. AARP does not use Form 13206, Volunteer Assistance Summary Report. AARP will provide a volunteer listing to the SPEC territory office by February 3rd and the 3rd business day of each month as new volunteers report to the site. Territory offices must not report the number of AARP volunteers in SPECTRM.

  9. AARP National will submit their official number of volunteer counts to the SPEC headquarters designee by May 15 to be input into SPECTRM.

  10. All domestic military VITA sites will provide their volunteer listing on Form 13206, Volunteer Assistance Summary Report, or similar listing containing the same information to the Armed Forces Tax Council (AFTC) with a copy to their local SPEC Relationship Manager by February 3rd and the 3rd business day of each month as new volunteers report to the site.

  11. All overseas military VITA sites will provide their volunteer listing on Form 13206, Volunteer Assistance Summary Report, or similar document containing the same information. The listing will be forwarded to the SPEC Headquarters Relationship Manager. The SPEC Headquarters relationship manager will input the volunteer count into SPECTRM by May 15.

22.30.1.1.4.7  (10-01-2014)
Form 14310 VITA/TCE Volunteer Recruitment Referral Process

  1. (1) IRS.gov, Volunteer Recruitment Referral Process provides instructions for individuals interested in volunteering in the VITA/TCE program to complete Form 14310,VITA/TCE Volunteer Sign Up Sheet, if they are not already affiliated with one of our partnering organizations. Form 14310 will be modified to include the date range in which volunteer interest is solicited based primarily on when partnering organizations typically recruit volunteers for the VITA/TCE program. Form 14310, instructs the potential volunteer to email the form to taxvolunteer@irs.gov. The VITA/TCE Volunteer Sign Up Sheet, is reviewed by a SPEC Headquarters analyst who compiles a list of interested volunteers on a spreadsheet. The spreadsheet includes the roles and responsibilities of the territory.

  2. Form 14310 includes a question to capture individuals interested in obtaining Continuing Education credits and a question to identify IRS employees interested in volunteering.

  3. SPEC Headquarters (HQ) Products, Systems and Analysis (PSA) group will issue an Area summary report in spreadsheet format of the information from submitted Form 14310:

    1. This data will be delivered to the areas once a week from August through December, which is the heavy recruitment and training period.

    2. This data will be delivered once a month from January through July when the demands for volunteers are low.

  4. HQ's PSA group will send the Area summary report to the primary analysts, back-up analysts, Chiefs of Staff, and Chief, Quality Program Office. The Area summary report will include a count of the total potential volunteers provided to the area office.

  5. Area analysts are responsible for sending information from the Area summary report to the appropriate territory office managers.

  6. Territory office managers are responsible for providing the potential volunteers’ information to the appropriate partners based on the potential volunteer’s address and zip code or as requested by the potential volunteer.

  7. Territory office managers are responsible for sending an email, within 7 business days, to the potential volunteer acknowledging his/her interest in volunteering and advising him/her which local partner(s) he has been referred to as a potential volunteer. The partner must be copied on the email as well. Templates of appropriate letters have been developed for optional use by Territory offices and posted to The Point under VITA/TCE Programs/Volunteer Information/Volunteer Communication. Template letters include links for Fact Sheets to use as appropriate, including CE Credits, IRS Employees interested in volunteering, How to use Link and Learn Taxes, How to use the Practice Lab, and How to get started with certifications.

  8. Territory offices must document actions taken by completing the following Area summary report columns - Date TM received volunteer list "DD/MM/YY" , Date Acknowledgement letter and associated Fact Sheet(s) sent to volunteer and Assigned Partner "DD/MM/YY" , Name of Community Organization/Partner assigned to the potential partner, and Comments/Feedback (if appropriate). If there is no associated partner near the interested volunteer’s zip code, mark N/A in the appropriate field on the spreadsheet and add a remark to the comments section. Territories must use the spreadsheet provided unless they have a mechanism in place to capture the information already.

  9. HQ’s PSA will forward complaints from potential volunteers to the appropriate area office for follow-up. Complaints often state the volunteer was not contacted by anyone.

  10. Area analysts should monitor how the process is working.

  11. HQ will update Form 14310,VITA/TCE Volunteer Sign Up annually based on Area and Field input.

  12. HQ will update the Form 14310VITA/TCE Volunteer Sign Up VITA/TCE Volunteer Recruitment Referral Process IRM procedures based on recommendations from Volunteer Recruitment SME team and management approval.

22.30.1.1.4.8  (10-01-2014)
VITA/TCE Return Preparation Accuracy (formerly VRPP Quality Rating)

  1. The measure of the accuracy of volunteer return preparation at VITA/TCE sites is calculated using Quality Statistical Sample (QSS) and return reviews. Return preparation quality is determined through on-site reviews of completed returns. The review determines the application of tax law by comparing a customer prepared questionnaire to the filing status, dependents, and EITC application on the return.

22.30.1.1.5  (10-01-2012)
Disaster Relief

  1. Disaster Relief Acts are signed by the President of the United States to assist taxpayers affected by natural disasters. A disaster is defined as a grave occurrence having ruinous results. When the President declares a city or county a disaster zone, the IRS will develop guidelines to be followed by all levels of the agency. Based on those guidelines, SPEC will establish specific policies and guidelines that will be shared with the areas, territories and partners (i.e., talking points, instructions, SETR codes, etc.)

  2. For more information on Disaster Relief, please refer to IRM 25.16, Disaster Assistance and Emergency Relief.

22.30.1.1.6  (10-01-2012)
Record Retention

  1. For information on Record Retention, please refer to IRM 1.15, The Records and Information Management Program.

22.30.1.1.7  (10-01-2012)
Communications Guidelines for SPEC Employees

  1. These communications guidelines are intended to ensure that all the proper parties are included in decisions involving media interviews and contacts.

    • No SPEC employee should ever contact a media outlet without contacting Field Media Relations (FMR) first.

    • No SPEC employee should ever respond to a media inquiry without first talking to your FMR contact. If a SPEC employee is contacted by any media outlet, the employee must first confer with FMR prior to communicating with the media source.

    • If a SPEC employee becomes aware of media coverage or media activity that is a result of a partner (partner news release or news conference), then he/she should notify FMR immediately.

  2. If SPEC employees have an IRS news release that is outside the normal announcement or publicity of VITA and TCE sites, they must collaborate with W&I Communication and Liaison (C&L) staff for approval. Releases announcing sites can be written locally and distributed without additional clearance. The single point of contact for news release distribution and for all media activity is the local FMR contact. Refer to the table below:

    If Then Then
    You wish to do a news release publicizing a VITA event. You have first checked the SPEC intranet and have not found a template for your situation. W&I C&L helps you write a news release for this event. Posts templates that have space to add local information on the SPEC intranet site. FMR helps place the release with national or major media. Handles all incoming media calls and serves as the point of contact for the media on the news release.
    You and your Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) Stakeholder Liaison counterpart plan to prepare an e-file news release to promote individual and business e-file through the media locally. W&I C&L will assist FMR with media inquiries. Consults with SB/SE Communications and FMR. FMR prepares the news release since it crosses divisional boundaries, i.e., W&I and SB/SE. Also helps market the release to national and major media as appropriate. Handles all incoming media calls and serves as the point of contact for the media on the news release.
    You get a call from any national news outlet asking for an interview regarding your partner coalition. If you are a headquarters SPEC employee, you should contact W&I C&L to handle the request. If you are a SPEC field employee, you should contact your local FMR to handle the request. These two organizations will handle the inquiry and will contact you if additional information is needed. Generally, they will take the inquiry and work the request with National Media Relations.
    You get a call from a local media reporter asking you questions. If headquarters SPEC employee, you should contact W&I C&L to handle the request. If you are a SPEC field employee, you should contact your local FMR to handle the request.  

22.30.1.1.8  (10-01-2012)
SPEC Awards Program

  1. The SPEC Awards Program is designed to recognize exemplary SPEC employees who have made significant contributions to the SPEC organization. Any employee or manager in SPEC can nominate any other employee or manager in SPEC. Task teams can only be nominated for an achievement award.

    Note:

    Entire work groups cannot be nominated for the achievement award as a task team. Also, no self-nominations are accepted.

22.30.1.1.8.1  (10-01-2014)
Nomination and Selection Process

  1. All nomination forms should be submitted by email to SPEC Awards Program. Each nomination write-up must be no more than two pages and must include the following:

    • Name of person making the nomination

    • Name of individual/task team being nominated (if a team, each member must be named and the chair-person must be identified)

    • Narrative which specifically addresses the criteria for the award and why the nominee deserves to be recognized with that particular award

  2. Once all nominations are in, the SPEC Awards Selection Committee will make recommendations to the director of SPEC for final decision on award winners. Awards will be presented during predesignated meeting. Winners will be featured on The Point, SPEC's web-site.

  3. The SPEC Awards Selection Committee is composed of:

    • Director, SPEC

    • One area director

    • Two territory managers (from areas other than that represented by the area director)

    • Chief, Strategy and Program Management

    Note:

    *Members serve a two-year term.

22.30.1.1.8.1.1  (10-01-2012)
Writing an Effective Award Nomination

  1. Your task in writing an award nomination is to let others see why the person you are nominating is so great! You have the opportunity to brag about someone you know, but the catch is that you may use only written words to introduce this person. Your nominee will be visible only through the words you write describing him or her.

  2. Therefore, make every word count. Put yourself in your reader’s shoes. Assume your reader has no knowledge of your nominee’s contribution. Then tell them why your nominee clearly deserves this award.

    • First, identify the criteria, every time you write something, you have a purpose whether you’re composing a letter to a friend or writing a novel. When you are writing an award nomination, you will generally have specific criteria to address. These criteria will form the basis of your nomination narrative.

      Example:

      The criteria for a SPEC Achievement Award are: 1. Exceptional individual or team effort in support of SPEC’s program goals and objectives, and 2. Creation or development of a major program enhancement or improvement of high value to SPEC.

    • Use strong verbs to address the criteria and to explain accurately how your nominee reflects the criteria. As a rule, prefer words that convey action rather than passive verbs that include derivations of the infinitive "to be" , such as: is, are, were, etc.

      Example:

      Weak: Janet was a pioneer in bringing the SPEC partnership model to life in her community. There were a great number of people who came to her presentation.
      Better: Janet pioneered the partnership model in her community. People flocked to her presentation.

    • Show, don’t tell. As much as possible, give examples that illustrate the characteristics you are trying to portray. Let your words evoke a picture. Use sentences that describe situations where your nominee displayed the criteria solicited. Be specific and write down the details that matter.

      Example:

      Weak: Mary was instrumental in the development of several volunteer management tools last year.
      Better: Mary recognized that partners needed to recruit volunteers for several jobs. She designed, developed, and created nine individual job descriptions for volunteer opportunities.

    • The narrative should stand alone. Prepare the narrative so that it tells your story with no other documents attached or necessary.

    • Prepare the email. Present a good impression with a finished product that adheres to the requirements set forth by the award guidelines; i.e., use the format, page limit, criteria, etc. specified by the award guidelines.

22.30.1.1.8.2  (10-01-2012)
SPEC Awards

  1. The SPEC Awards are:

    • SPEC Leadership Award

    • SPEC Partnership Award

    • SPEC Achievement Award for Individual

    • SPEC Achievement Award for Task Team

    • SPEC Territory of the Year Award

    • SPEC Director's Choice Award

22.30.1.1.8.2.1  (10-01-2012)
SPEC Leadership Award

  1. SPEC's premier award, the Leadership Award, is given to an individual whose leadership attributes are worthy of emulation throughout SPEC. Leadership is not defined by position, but by action. Therefore, this award is open to all SPEC employees.

  2. The SPEC Leadership Award is intended to recognize exceptional leadership and is not automatically presented every year.

  3. The SPEC Leadership Award recognizes:

    • Individual action that shapes and leads SPEC into the future.

    • Leadership displayed in administration or performance of duty, which distinguished the employee as exceptional in every sense.

    • Attributes of a leader that SPEC employees should emulate.

    • Ability to recognize an opportunity and lead the organizations response.

    • Success in garnering internal support and participation.

22.30.1.1.8.2.2  (10-01-2012)
SPEC Partnership Award

  1. The SPEC Partnership Award is given to recognize an individual, or small group of employees, working to develop a single coalition or initiative and innovation in support of partnership. This award is not intended to recognize initiatives, but rather to recognize innovation, creativity, and effort regardless of the success or failure of the initiative. This award is open to all SPEC employees.

  2. The SPEC Partnership Award is presented annually.

  3. The SPEC Partnership Award recognizes:

    • Individual innovation and creativity in support of partnership.

    • Personal initiative, commitment and effort.

    • Individual initiatives that yielded lessons learned for SPEC.

    • Ability to garner support for a partnership.

22.30.1.1.8.2.3  (10-01-2013)
SPEC Achievement Award

  1. The SPEC Achievement Award is given to an individual or Task Team for distinguished acts in support of SPEC's goals and objectives. This award is open to all SPEC employees and task force teams.

  2. The SPEC Achievement Award is presented annually.

  3. The SPEC Achievement Award recognizes:

    • Exceptional individual or team efforts in support of SPEC’s programs, goals and objectives.

    • Creation or development of a major program enhancement or improvement of high value to SPEC.

22.30.1.1.8.2.4  (10-01-2012)
SPEC Territory of the Year Award

  1. The SPEC territory of the Year Award is given to an individual territory in recognition of their full support of SPEC's concept of operations, achievement of SPEC strategic business plan objectives and success in implementing the partnership approach. This award is open to all SPEC territories and is selected by the director of SPEC. No nominations are solicited or accepted for this award.

  2. The SPEC territory of the Year Award is presented annually.

  3. The SPEC territory of the Year Award recognizes:

    • Exceptional team effort in support of SPEC's program goals and objectives.

    • Strong evidence of effective partnerships reaching and assisting our customers.

    • Leadership as a group in support of SPEC.

22.30.1.2  (10-01-2013)
Products, Product Development, Evaluation and Ordering Procedures

  1. SPEC’s product lines are:

    • Program, Partnership Development, Site Management and Outreach includes partnership development, partner and taxpayer outreach life cycle materials and appreciation products. Also included are the volunteer tax preparation and site management products.

    • Volunteer Training includes the printed volunteer and facilitator training materials, PowerPoint® presentations, SPEC’s e-learning applications Link and Learn Taxes (LLT) and Understanding Taxes.

    • Product Ordering and Forecasting includes products and procedures for ordering materials using various ordering methods such as on-line, and email.

    • Other program products include federal tax forms and publications published by Media and Publications (M&P), and Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), e-file, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number and Civil Rights products.

22.30.1.2.1  (10-01-2012)
The Product PRO

  1. SPEC shares and solicits product information from employees and other stakeholders through a variety of tools. The Product Professional (PRO) is SPEC’s one-stop intranet site for product information and guidance. The Product PRO conveys the following:

    • Guidance for submitting new product ideas

    • Template for reporting product concerns

    • Product ordering procedures and tools

    • Shipping and tracking information for the printed training materials

    • Compilations of product and Volunteer Quality Tax Alerts

    • Product forecasting guidance

    • Comprehensive listings of SPEC’s products for internal and external use

  2. In addition to the Product PRO, SPEC utilizes the direct web-based survey tool, SPEC Direct, to obtain feedback from employees on planned product enhancements.

22.30.1.2.2  (10-01-2012)
Product Development and Production Planning

  1. SPEC and M&P join forces in February/March of each year to discuss and reach agreement on product production plans for the upcoming filing season. The meeting which includes representatives from the Offices of Printing and Distribution takes place in Atlanta. From May through August SPEC partner teams convene to assist in updating and revising products and processes.

22.30.1.2.3  (10-01-2007)
New Product Ideas and Concerns

  1. Employees are encouraged to use the links under "Requesting New Products" or "Reporting Product Concerns" on the Product PRO to suggest new products and revisions to current products throughout the year. The "Reporting Product Concern" procedures in the Product PRO should be used to express concern about the design, accuracy, usefulness and timeliness of any SPEC or IRS product used by employees and partners. The guidelines in each procedure contain local, area, and headquarters approval requirements, including timeframes for actions/feedback required from all parties involved the process.

22.30.1.2.4  (10-01-2012)
Product Forecasting and Inventory Management

  1. Product forecasting and inventory management ensures adequate inventory is projected and available for partners and employees to successfully execute their program goals. The Quantity Needs Survey (QNS) team assists SPEC in projecting printed product requirements for the upcoming program year; monitoring local and headquarters usage against projections based on data in the annual QNS and assisting in resolving inventory issues.

22.30.1.2.5  (10-01-2012)
Quantity Needs Survey (QNS)

  1. Each summer, SPEC administers the QNS to obtain requirements from offices and partners for products. The QNS Team administers the survey during the summer and monitors usage against projections from October through March using the Inventory Management Tool (IMT). The process and procedure for administering the QNS are updated annually and conveyed on the Product PRO. The survey covers the 12 month period from September 1 through August 31.

  2. The QNS monitors training product ordering information from the National Distribution Center (NDC) and the Computer Assisted Publishing System (CAPS). The QNS is designed to determine if the goals set forth in the SPEC Program Letter are reached and to improve the overall process. The QNS team may convene to:

    • Assess successes and challenges.

    • Compile the data from the survey.

    • Identify products for the IMT.

    • Recommend process improvements to management.

    • Establish timelines and implementation/execution plans for administering, monitoring and managing the process.

  3. In addition to the data from the NDC and CAPS systems, the team considers concerns raised by management and employees when determining how to administer and manage the process for the upcoming filing season.

22.30.1.2.6  (10-01-2011)
The Inventory Management Tool (IMT)

  1. The IMT is designed to monitor the usage of "critical" SPEC products to avoid out-of-stock situations during the filing season and/or the critical usage period for the product. Each office submits ordering information on a monthly basis to the QNS team member for their area. In addition to curtailing out-of-stock situations, the information is compiled into a monthly management information report. The report provides a snap shot of product usage against projections. Each QNS team member shares the data with the applicable territory and area director.

  2. The local IMT report covers monthly usage and is submitted to the area office by the 6th of each month. The information is compiled and submitted to headquarters by the 15th of each month beginning in November. The first reports submitted to headquarters represent order information from September through October for each area. The IMT may not reflect all orders and/or adjustments to orders listed on the report. The Quantity Needs Assessment (QNA) is the basis for determining if the QNS goal set forth in the SPEC Program Letter is reached each year.

22.30.1.2.7  (10-01-2012)
Product Ordering

  1. SPEC on-line ordering application via CAPS and email ordering are the most preferred methods for ordering materials. The guidelines are revised annually and are posted on the Product PRO.

  2. The on-line ordering application is normally available from September 1st through June 30th of each year. During the months of July and August the system is taken off-line for the annual database review and system enhancements and maintenance effort. The database review consists of territory and headquarters personnel confirming the accuracy of the address information for each account and removing duplicate account information when needed. The programmers remove accounts with no activity and archive the prior year’s data.

  3. Products can be ordered throughout the year by using Form 2333X,Form 2333TE, or Form 2333V. Select the appropriate form(s) based on the product(s) being ordered.

22.30.1.2.8  (10-01-2011)
Product Availability

  1. Detailed information about the availability of products for training, volunteer tax preparation, quality improvement, etc., are provided in the Status-At-A-Glance report on the Product PRO. Information is also provided in the Product Alerts section of the Product Pro web-site. The printed training products are normally available in late November while the site materials begin arriving in bulk at the NDC from October to mid-December. Outreach products are normally available throughout the year. Electronic files of the products are available in the product repository, and many of the printed products are posted on the IRS web-site for partner access. The learning applications LLT and Understanding Taxes (UT)) are available with new tax law in November and December, respectively on the IRS web-site.

22.30.1.2.9  (10-01-2013)
Who to Call for Product Assistance

  1. Each area office has identified personnel for territory employees to contact for product assistance (whenever possible questions should be directed to these individuals). The specific area contact should be included in all email correspondence to the Products, Systems and Analysis (PSA) staff. All SPEC products are listed on the Product Pro website, under "Publishing Plans" . The Product PRO contains links to the product repository which is Media and Publications' site for official information about all published and controlled IRS products. The Product PRO includes an electronic file of the product, a description of the product, and the name and phone number of the product owner, etc. The links to the product repository are in the Product-Status-at-A-Glance report information and the various product listings in the Product PRO.

22.30.1.3  (03-04-2014)
Volunteer Return Preparation Overview

  1. Organizations (for profit and not for profit), employers and individuals (referred hereinafter as partners) all across America share a commitment to public service and partner with the IRS to provide free tax preparation to the under-served populations in local communities. SPEC Headquarters enters into memorandum of understanding (MOU) with National Organizations to create national partnerships. Local organizations not affiliated with a national partner are approved by SPEC TM through, Form 13533 , Sponsor Agreement or Form 13553-A,FSA Remote Sponsor Agreement. The targeted audiences for these free tax preparation services includes taxpayers with low-to-moderate income (defined by the EITC threshold), persons with disabilities, elderly, and limited English proficiency (LEP).

  2. The objective of the volunteer programs is to provide federal and state (where appropriate) tax preparation services, free of charge. These services are provided by volunteers who are certified by the IRS through passing a test with a score of 80 percent or higher. Volunteers work for IRS partners. Partners are responsible for ensuring the volunteers adhere to all IRS Quality Site Requirements (QSR).

  3. Volunteer sites are located in geographic areas consistent with the targeted audience populations. SPEC offices, in conjunction with partners, determine the optimum location for volunteer sites by utilizing existing research, including census data, to identify the largest concentrations of the targeted population.

  4. The volunteer return preparation programs are limited in scope to specific tax law topics. The scope of the volunteer programs can change periodically depending on IRS and legislative change. Therefore, to ensure volunteers only prepare returns within the scope of the volunteer program refer to Publication 4012, Volunteer Resource Guide, for a list of the latest tax law topics. Volunteers who adhere to QSR and prepare returns only within scope of the volunteer return preparation program are protected under the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997.

  5. SPEC partners should market their programs to our targeted populations; the low to moderate income taxpayers (generally defined by the annual EITC threshold), elderly, persons with disabilities, and those with limited English proficiency. Keep in mind, the value of low to moderate income can vary depending on the cost of living in a particular geographic location; therefore, partners should exercise sound judgement in establishing income limitations for return preparation.

    Note:

    For example, our VITA low income threshold is $52,000 for Tax Year 2013. If a taxpayer with W-2 income of $70,000 comes to a site and all income and expense items fall within scope according to the scope chart in Publication 4012, then the site should exercise sound judgment and rationale in determining whether or not it will prepare the return.

22.30.1.3.1  (10-01-2012)
Volunteer Return Preparation Components

  1. There are two components of SPEC Volunteer Return Preparation Programs. These components are:

    • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

    • Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)

22.30.1.3.1.1  (01-10-2013)
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

  1. Since the implementation of the VITA program in 1969, thousands of volunteers have provided free tax assistance and prepared millions of U.S. Federal and State tax returns. The targeted population for VITA services includes individuals with low-to moderate-income (defined by the EITC threshold), persons with disabilities, elderly, and LEP. The VITA program is vital to delivering service to those taxpayers who most need tax assistance and cannot afford the services of a paid preparer.

    Note:

    SPEC allows volunteers to use the IRS provided software to prepare and electronically file their own tax return and the returns of family and friends. Unlike VITA/TCE returns, these returns have no income or tax law scope limitations.

  2. The Military is also a partner in the VITA Program. The Armed Forces Tax Counsel (AFTC) consists of the tax program coordinators from the Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard. The AFTC oversees the operation of the military tax programs worldwide. They serve as the main conduit for outreach and free tax preparation to military personnel and their families.

22.30.1.3.1.1.1  (03-25-2013)
Virtual VITA/TCE

  1. The Virtual VITA/TCE (formerly Alternative VITA/TCE Model and Alternative Rural) approach uses the same process as traditional VITA/TCE except that the preparer and/or quality reviewer and taxpayer are not face-to-face. Technology such as internet, fax and video is used to connect the volunteer preparer and the taxpayer. Although suitable for rural environments where it is difficult to build a traditional VITA site, this approach can be used in urban settings to provide a free alternative to qualified taxpayers.

22.30.1.3.1.1.2  (03-25-2013)
Purpose of Virtual VITA/TCE

  1. Procedures were developed to assist partners with consistent instructions for operating a free, Virtual VITA/TCE site, to assist low income taxpayers in addition to the procedures already established for the operation of a Traditional VITA and TCE site.

  2. In traditional VITA and TCE sites, a certified volunteer is required to conduct face-to-face interviews with taxpayers as their returns are prepared, quality reviewed and e-filed. This is the optimum method of volunteer tax preparation.

  3. In an effort to increase the amount of free tax preparation provided to all eligible taxpayers, the VITA and TCE Site requirements were expanded to address the needs of partners and taxpayers. In cases where the use of a traditional VITA and TCE site may not be practical, SPEC partners may use an Virtual VITA/TCE Model.

  4. Virtual VITA/TCE sites exist when either the taxpayer, return preparer or quality reviewer are not face-to-face during the tax preparation process

22.30.1.3.1.1.3  (10-01-2013)
Preparing Returns Using Virtual VITA/TCE

  1. There are many reasons all eligible taxpayers are not able to take advantage of the traditional free VITA and TCE. In some cases, partners have distinct challenges trying to operate traditional free tax preparation sites for a variety of reasons; including the lack of certified volunteers, equipment, current IRS regulations and travel funding. In other instances, the taxpayer is not able to access a traditional VITA and TCE site.

  2. The "Virtual VITA/TCE Model" uses the same process as traditional VITA/TCE except that the preparer or quality reviewer and taxpayer are not face-to-face. Technology (i.e., internet, fax, video, phone, etc.) is used to connect the volunteer preparer and the taxpayer.

  3. In traditional VITA and TCE sites, a certified volunteer is required to conduct face-to-face interviews with taxpayers as their returns are prepared, quality reviewed and e-filed.

  4. In cases where the use of a traditional VITA/TCE site may not be practical, partners may use a Virtual VITA/TCE Model.

  5. This model provides VITA and TCE services through the incorporation of two components:

    • Intake Site

    • Preparation Site

  6. In all instances, the Virtual VITA/TCE process must include the following:

    1. Adherence to the ten Quality Site Requirements (QSR)

    2. The partner must document the Virtual VITA/TCE process and it be must be approved by the responsible territory manager before the site opens.

    3. The process must be explained to the taxpayer(s). This includes the length of time it will take to prepare the return.

    4. The taxpayer(s) must agree to the process and sign Form 14446,Virtual VITA/TCE Site Model Taxpayer Consent. This consent form will contain all the required information outlined later in the IRM.

    5. The taxpayer(s) identity must be verified using photo identification at the intake site. If the taxpayer(s) must return to the site the taxpayer(s) must again provide a photo identification when they return to review, sign and pick up a copy of their return.

    6. The taxpayer(s) and preparer, and/or the quality reviewer can be non face-to-face by phone or by electronic means such as video conference.

    7. The certified volunteer preparing the return cannot be the same certified volunteer conducting the quality review.

    8. All tax documents including the completed Form 13614-C,Intake/Interview and Quality Review Sheet. must be available to the certified volunteers during the return preparation and the quality review.

    9. These documents can be delivered via: mail, fax, personal delivery, email, secure video conference or secure scan/upload.

    10. The taxpayer(s) must have the opportunity to review their return and ask questions to a certified volunteer.

    11. The taxpayer(s) must sign Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization.

    12. The taxpayer(s) must receive a copy of their signed Form 8879,IRS e-file Signature Authorization.and their tax return.

22.30.1.3.1.1.4  (03-25-2013)
Types of Returns Prepared

  1. Each Virtual Site will serve taxpayers that meet the current VITA and TCE guidelines.

22.30.1.3.1.1.5  (10-01-2013)
Virtual Site Process

  1. The transmitting site must apply for only one Electronic Filing Identification Number (EFIN)

  2. Each Virtual Site location should obtain a separate SIDN to be used on all tax returns prepared using the Virtual VITA/TCE Model. This will allow SPEC to more accurately report returns prepared through the Virtual VITA/TCE process.

  3. All sites must conform to the software contract requirements. See Publication 3189, Volunteer e-file Administrator Guide for more information.

  4. The volunteer at the virtual intake location will:

    1. Explain the process to the taxpayer.

    2. Verify the photo ID and the Social Security cards for the taxpayer and dependents.

    3. Advise the taxpayer to complete the Form 13614-C, Intake/Interview and Quality Review Sheet or partner approved. If necessary, assist the taxpayer with completing Form 13614-C,Intake/Interview and Quality Review Sheet.

    4. Provide the taxpayer with an Form 14446,Virtual VITA/TCE Site Model, Taxpayer Consent and secure a signed permission prior to discussing taxpayer information to ensure security.

  5. The Form 14446, Virtual VITA/TCE Site Model, Taxpayer Consent should contain and explain the entire process including:

    1. Why the site must make copies of their personal information

    2. How and why the site will be sending the information from one site to another

    3. Where the information will be sent

    4. How the information will be used

    5. How long the information will be maintained and how long the return preparation process will take

    6. How the information will be protected

    7. How the necessary documents will be delivered (via mail, fax, email, personal delivery, secure video conference or secure scan/upload) to the virtual location for tax return preparation or the quality review

    8. Provide the taxpayer with the virtual preparation or quality review site location phone number and contact person

  6. The IRS-certified volunteer at the virtual preparation or quality review site will contact the taxpayer and conduct an interview using the completed Form 13614–C,Intake/Interview and Quality Review Sheet, supporting documents, and reference materials (if necessary). Additionally they will prepare the tax return (use the SIDN designated for the appropriate Intake Site). They will then prepare or quality review the tax return (use the SIDN designated for the appropriate virtual intake site). Once the return is prepared, a different IRS-certified volunteer will contact the taxpayer to conduct the quality review by confirming the accuracy of the information on the tax return based on the source documents, Form 13614-C,Intake/Interview and Quality Review Sheet and the taxpayer interview.

  7. An IRS-certified volunteer that did not prepare the return may conduct the quality review either face-to-face or non face-to-face.

    Note:

    One-person, traditional VITA sites that utilize Virtual Quality Review are not Virtual VITA sites.

  8. Once the taxpayer(s) receives and reviews the completed tax return, the taxpayer(s) will sign Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization.

  9. All documents, including the signed Form 8879,IRS e-file Signature Authorization and the signed “Form 14446 are returned to the taxpayer with a copy of the completed return. The Form 8879, IRS e-file Signature Authorization, is not required to be maintained at the site or by partners. All other documents are returned to the taxpayer or properly disposed.

22.30.1.3.1.1.6  (10-01-2012)
Virtual Site Process Approval

  1. Virtual Site procedures must be reviewed and approved by the assigned territory manager prior to beginning site operations to ensure the requirements in this document are covered.

22.30.1.3.1.1.7  (10-01-2012)
Measured Result

  1. The results will be measured by the following:

    • Increased number of VITA and TCE Sites from SPECTRM database reports

    • Increased number of tax returns filed using the Virtual VITA/TCE Model identified on SIDN report

    • Increased coverage rates in rural communities as determined by the SPEC Return Database

22.30.1.3.1.1.8  (10-01-2012)
Preparing Returns Using the Facilitated Self Assistance (FSA) Model

  1. Only a small percentage of low-to-moderate income taxpayers interested in using volunteer tax preparation service are assisted through the direct model. In order to provide assistance to more taxpayers, while increasing taxpayer education and promoting self-sufficiency, SPEC now also captures returns prepared through an Facilitated Self Assistance (FSA) Model. The Facilitated Self Assistance approach uses a certified volunteer to assist taxpayers in the preparation of their tax return. Since the role of the volunteer is a facilitator, multiple taxpayers can be assisted at one time by each volunteer. This approach allows sites to offer alternatives by assisting taxpayers prepare their own simple returns. Partners can use any software that has the ability to capture the SIDN.

  2. The information that follows in this section:

    • Provides criteria for inclusion of FSA in the VITA and TCE Program.

    • Identifies the types of available self-service models.

    • Increases coverage rates in rural or urban areas as determined by the SPEC Return Database.

22.30.1.3.1.1.9  (10-01-2012)
Facilitated Self Assistance Model for VITA and TCE Program

  1. Various types of FSA models are currently available to taxpayers but not all models are included in the VITA and TCE Program.

  2. In order for an FSA to be counted as a part of the VITA and TCE Program, the following conditions are applicable:

    1. Taxpayer must input their own tax return (may receive occasional assistance from a volunteer).

    2. Trained, certified volunteer (minimum training level: VITA Basic) must be available at all times to provide taxpayer assistance and answer questions. Refer to IRM 22.30.1.3.7 for additional information on VITA and TCE Training.

    3. Intake and quality review are not required for inclusion into the program.

      Note:

      These are minimum requirements; sites can establish additional controls as needed.

    4. Qualifying sites must have a unique SIDN (separate from any direct assistance site) to ensure that the count can be recorded separately

      Note:

      FSA models do not have a unique EFIN for their location.

    5. Sites use an approved software provider which can generate an SIDN for the return record without requiring taxpayer input. This generally will be accomplished through the insertion of either the SIDN or corresponding code into the provider URL.

    6. Providers must ensure that both federal and state returns offered through the program are free of charge to the taxpayer.

22.30.1.3.1.1.10  (10-01-2014)
Facilitated Self Assistance Software Programs

  1. There are several types of self-service models where tax return counts are included in the VITA and TCE total. Availability of specific models may vary for each filing season.

  2. Listed below is information on some primary models used:

    1. VITA Free File: .Offers vary by company and are typically linked to the external offers on the Free File page on irs.gov. Links sent to partners include the embedded SIDN. Participating Free File software vendors include HR Block, Intuit (TurboTax), TaxAct, and FileYourTaxes.com. Some vendors like Intuit have specific relationships with partners and provide them with additional support, funding and training.

    2. MyFreeTaxes: Used to promote financial literacy and access to computer technology. Locations are identified by personnel at a participating sponsor who receives funding for hosting the site. MyFreeTaxes is owned by United Way Worldwide and uses HR Block@Home as its’ tax filing software.

22.30.1.3.1.1.11  (10-01-2013)
Facilitated Self Assistance Program Types

  1. Facilitated Self Assistance (FSA) Fusion: Sites are located at the same location with the same operating days/hours as traditional VITA/TCE services. Fusion sites allow partners to triage taxpayers to determine which service would benefit them most effectively.

  2. FSA Stand-Alone: Sites are located independently of traditional VITA/TCE services, or have distinct hours from traditional VITA/TCE operations at the same address. Stand-Alone sites focus on taxpayers who are eager to do their own return with some assistance from a certified volunteer on-site.

  3. FSA Remote: Sites are accessed from a user’s computer at home or in the office, with virtual assistors available via phone, email or online chat. During Filing Season 2013, MyFreeTaxes provided toll-free assistance to any taxpayer who used their product and had questions about return preparation. Partners can also provide additional local support to assist their taxpayers using the remote model.

22.30.1.3.1.1.12  (10-01-2013)
Territory Required Actions for Facilitated Self Assistance

  1. Relationship Managers should take the following actions to ensure that SPEC maximizes the potential of the FSA program:

    1. Identify potential partners in participating states and promote the use of the FSA model wherever possible. High volume sites, college campuses and career centers present some of the best areas for growth (with large numbers of potential taxpayers with computer skills).

    2. Add the site into SPECTRM with the following naming convention: Site Name - FSA Model.

    3. Contact headquarters with the following information: site name, SIDN, and email contact for the FSA coordinator. Headquarters will email an invitation (with instructions, offer sheets, icons and unique URLs) to the site FSA coordinator with a cc: to the Relationship Manager and territory manager for that location.

    4. Engage your partner to utilize this service, especially during peak times for tax return preparation. Optimally, this service can be used for between two to four taxpayers per volunteer during peak times.

    5. Identify any concerns/issues and elevate them to headquarters so that they can be worked with the national technical contacts/program managers for the software providers.

  2. Sites can request equipment for the FSA model. Equipment requests should be identified by the territories and submitted through to headquarters for processing. Refer to IRM 22.30.1.4.2, Computers for Volunteers, for general information about computers for volunteers.

22.30.1.3.1.2  (01-10-2013)
Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE)

  1. The TCE Program offers free tax assistance to individuals who are 60 or older. Section 163 of the Revenue Act of 1978, Public Law No. 95-600, 92 Stat. 2810, November 6, 1978, authorizes this cooperative agreement. This Act authorizes TCE cooperative agreements for the purpose of providing training and technical assistance to prepare volunteers to provide tax counseling assistance for elderly individuals in the preparation of their Federal income tax returns. Grants are awarded to private or public non-profit agencies and organizations that qualify for tax exemption under section 501 of the Internal Revenue Code or are a federally recognized Indian tribal government. t

    Note:

    SPEC allows volunteers to use the IRS provided software to prepare and electronically file their own tax return and the returns of family and friends. Unlike VITA/TCE returns, these returns have no income or tax law scope limitations.

  2. TCE sites can also employ the Virtual VITA/TCE Model for delivery of services to its targeted audience. For more information about VITA grants see IRM 22.30.1.5, Tax Counseling for the Elderly and Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Grant Programs.

22.30.1.3.2  (10-01-2013)
Volunteer Programs - Headquarters Responsibilities

  1. Strategy and Program Management (SPM) is responsible for managing SPEC’s budget (human and capital) to ensure successful delivery of SPEC’s programs. This includes serving as the liaison between SPEC and various oversight agencies, such as Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) and Government Accountability Office (GAO).

  2. Oversight, Products and Qualify (OPQ) is responsible for issuing volunteer program policies and procedures, monitoring adherence to the volunteer program policies and procedures, and ensuring employees are equipped with pertinent information for successful delivery of the filing season. Additionally, OPQ is responsible for securing legal opinions from the Office of Chief Counsel.

    1. Products, Systems and Analysis (PSA) is responsible for developing the training materials and products used by the volunteer programs to train and certify volunteers for return preparation. They define the "scope" of tax law topics applicable for preparation by the volunteers supporting the volunteer programs. PSA also develops and creates products for tax education and outreach. PSA is responsible for issuing the program plan used to define measures of success for all SPEC programs and monitoring status. SPECTRM, SPEC’s Management Information System is managed by PSA.

    2. The Quality Program Office (QPO) oversees the Quality Site Statistical reviews used to determine VITA and TCE accuracy rates.

  3. Grant Program Office (GPO) is responsible for managing the VITA and TCE Grant programs. This includes awarding the grants and ensuring compliance to OMB Grant Requirements.

  4. National Partnerships (NP) is responsible for securing and maintaining national partners with organizations that share common values with IRS for educating and preparing free tax returns for SPEC’s targeted audience. Memorandums of Understanding (MOUs) are required for all national partners. Local affiliates of these national partners are critical to delivery of the VITA and TCE programs.

22.30.1.3.2.1  (10-01-2011)
How to Request Legal Opinions from the Office of Chief Counsel

  1. To request an opinion, send an email to the assigned OPQ analyst (see HQ Program Assignments for latest assignments). The email should contain all of the following:

    • Subject

    • Detailed background information on the issue

    • Reason for the request

  2. The analyst will forward the request to a Special Counsel to the Division Counsel (Wage and Investment). Once the opinion is returned by Counsel, OPQ will send an email to the initial requester, with copies to appropriate parties.

  3. Counsel will provide an opinion within 90 days.

    Note:

    If an opinion is needed sooner than 90 days, please specify when it is needed in your email (e.g., within 10 days, 30 days, etc.).

22.30.1.3.2.1.1  (10-01-2014)
Partner Endorsements

  1. Never use your Government position, title, or authority to endorse products or organizations. When a partner asks for a quote from the IRS to be used publicly to support the partner’s services, contact Chief, Oversight, Products and Quality to obtain Chief Counsel approval.

  2. Counsel has approved general statements of fact such as “ABC Partner has assisted families with free return preparation since 1995.” Counsel has also approved statements focused on all our partners or all of a class of partners such as “We at the Internal Revenue Service are very appreciative of how financial institutions have embraced supporting the VITA program.” .

22.30.1.3.2.2  (10-01-2011)
Volunteer Programs - Area Office Responsibilities

  1. The area office provides overall program directions to territory offices based on policy and guidance received from SPEC Headquarters, assesses the territory office accomplishments and allocates resources to accomplish program objectives.

22.30.1.3.2.3  (10-01-2010)
Volunteer Programs - Territory Office Responsibilities

  1. The territory office has the overall responsibility for management of the volunteer programs at the local level. The territory office and its employees receive direction from the area office. Territory offices and its employees concerns and suggestions are required to be filtered through the area office. The territory office is responsible for direct communication to SPEC local partners and volunteers.

22.30.1.3.3  (10-01-2011)
Volunteer Protection Act of 1997

  1. The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 is not owned or written exclusively for the IRS. This is a Public Law and relates to businesses that use volunteers to provide services.

  2. Section 6(6) of this Act (42 USC 14505(6)) defines a volunteer as an individual performing services for a nonprofit organization or a governmental entity (including as a director, officer, trustee, or direct service volunteer) who does not receive for those services more than $500 total in a year from the organization or entity as:

    1. Compensation (other than reasonable reimbursement or allowance for expenses actually incurred).

    2. Any other thing of value in lieu of compensation.

  3. 42 USC 14503 (a) states that generally no volunteer of a nonprofit organization or governmental entity shall be liable for harm caused by an act or omission of the volunteer on behalf of the organization if all of the following apply:

    1. Volunteer was acting within the scope of the volunteer’s responsibilities in the nonprofit organization or governmental entity at the time of the act or omission.

    2. If appropriate or required, the volunteer was properly licensed, certified, or authorized by the appropriate authorities for the activities or practice in the State in which the harm occurred, where the activities were or practice was undertaken within the scope of the volunteer’s responsibilities in the nonprofit organization or governmental entity.

    3. The harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence, reckless misconduct, or a conscious, flagrant indifference to the rights or safety of the individual harmed by the volunteer.

  4. A volunteer, whether a coordinator, sponsor employee, or student, who receives more than $500 per year as compensation for work on the volunteer program would not be protected from liability under the Act. Characterizing the payment as a stipend does not change the effect of the payment on the volunteer’s status under the Act. A partner, whether grant recipient or not, who intends to pay their volunteers in excess of the amount stated above, should seek legal advice from their attorney regarding potential liability for their organization and their volunteers.

  5. A request to change statutory language of the Volunteer Protection Act is not being pursued by the IRS.

  6. SPEC employees shall avoid giving written advice on the Volunteer Protection Act of 1997. If a partner has questions regarding the Volunteer Protection Act, then SPEC employees can provide the partner with a copy of the Volunteer Protection Act, which is located on “The Point”. For more information, refer to Publication 4299, Privacy, Confidentiality and Standards of Conduct - A Public Trust.

22.30.1.3.3.1  (10-01-2011)
Compensation

  1. IRS allows partners to utilize Federal Grant funds to provide stipends to volunteers within the volunteer return preparation program. Stipends are a fixed amount of money paid at regular intervals as a salary or to cover living expenses. Under the VITA and TCE Grant Programs, stipends are an allowable expenditure and are specifically addressed within both grant application booklets.

  2. For purposes of the IRS Grant Programs, a stipend can only be used to reimburse volunteers for out-of-pocket expenses.

22.30.1.3.3.1.1  (10-01-2011)
Compensation for the (TCE) Program

  1. The TCE Program is subject to the following rules specific to compensation:

    • Participants are allowed to use grant funds to pay salaries, wages and benefits of clerical personnel only.

    • Grant funds can not be used to provide compensation in the form of salaries, wage and benefits of program sponsor executives or administrators.

    • Grant recipients are allowed to provide volunteers a stipend for travel and food.


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