22.40.1  Outreach

22.40.1.1  (03-31-2005)
Overview

  1. This section discusses the definition of outreach activities and their role in accomplishing the mission of FSLG.

  2. Outreach includes customer educational activities, involving voluntary participation by the customer, that have the intention of providing educational information to help customers comply with the tax laws. This includes education directly to customers as well as partnership activities with stakeholders.

  3. Outreach also includes Customer Assistance, which is discussed in IRM 4.90.2.

22.40.1.1.1  (03-31-2005)
Stakeholder Outreach

  1. Stakeholder Outreach includes activities with external partners with the intention of establishing cooperative efforts to identify ways to increase compliance of FSLG customers. Examples of stakeholder outreach include meetings with the State Social Security Administrator, the Social Security Administration, practitioner groups or government agencies responsible for administering related laws.

  2. One goal of outreach is to provide opportunities to establish new partnership relationships and expand existing partnerships. This type of outreach can be used as a tool to remedy systemic or regional noncompliance.

  3. If the Specialist receives an inquiry from an authority for state and local government concerning the development of joint or partnership tax administration efforts with IRS, he or she should consult with the Office of Governmental Liaison and Disclosure (GLD). See IRM 11.4.1.6.11(1).

22.40.1.1.2  (03-31-2005)
Customer Outreach

  1. Customer outreach includes activity that provides educational information to a group of customers. Examples of Customer Outreach include conducting workshops, seminars, and attending or participating in customer association conferences and meetings. Meeting with other agencies who are the customers or direct representatives of the entities responsible for tax matters is also customer outreach.

  2. Customer outreach is a preferred compliance tool when there is an opportunity to educate and interact with large numbers of customers at once. This is a very useful and effective preventive and remedial tool for systemic and regional noncompliance.

  3. Outreach activity can be a costly compliance remedy due to time involved with the activity and travel costs. Therefore, it is necessary to consider the following factors when planning this type of activity.

    • Market segment impact,

    • Expected number of attendees,

    • Size and scope of the organization,

    • Costs such as booth rental, promotional items, and travel expense

    • Impact on potential compliance issues

    • Opportunity to establish or expand partnerships

  4. Depending on the resources available, each market segment within each state should be provided outreach over a reasonable period of time. The primary approach for providing this outreach should be to work cooperatively with the customers, government associations, government practitioners, and IRS stakeholders, participating in conferences, seminars, workshops, and other events.

  5. Pre-filing and filing activities should be the result of an established plan of action for the area for which the Specialist is responsible. Each manager will have a plan or schedule for each state in his or her area.

22.40.1.2  (03-31-2005)
Outreach Selection Process

  1. In general, participation in events sponsored by national associations/organizations will require the approval of the FSLG Director. The FSLG field offices will coordinate events that are regionally or locally sponsored.

  2. The decision to participate in an outreach activity should be based on the potential to support the current strategic work plan and program. CPM analyzes outreach data to identify trends, issues and problems and this process will assist in determining the focus and impact of outreach efforts on compliance. "Cause and effect" analysis of noncompliance will also assist in determining optimal remedies. Data analysis and information gathering from the FSLG customer market segments will determine whether the issue is systemic, regional or local in nature.

  3. Systemic noncompliance indicates that the compliance problem exists broadly within the customer population and may require different remedies. In general, systemic noncompliance will require a planned outreach and educational focus on the targeted customer base. In some cases, direction will be provided by CPM on a nationwide basis. The noncompliance issues can be identified through historical data analysis at FSLG headquarters or through information-gathering within the FSLG field group area. A focused outreach plan should be developed to target and correct the systemic noncompliance area.

  4. Regional noncompliance indicates that the compliance problem exists within an isolated subset of customer population and may cover more than one state or field group area. The FSLG field area personnel can also help identify regional noncompliance and plan outreach activity to increase voluntary compliance in the regional area.

  5. Local noncompliance indicates the compliance problem exists within a small area or with just one customer. It requires that we not only address the problem but also take action to ensure the problem does not expand. In general, individual field groups will be best positioned to recommend the appropriate outreach activity and follow-up action. Local noncompliance issues may also involve alternative remedies, which would include one-on-one customer assistance activity focused on issues presented by that customer.

  6. Determining whether to use outreach or customer assistance as a compliance tool requires identifying the type of compliance issue, the targeted and affected customer base and consideration of time and cost constraints in delivery of the remedy. The goal should always be to maximize increased voluntary compliance while using the most efficient and cost effective resources.

22.40.1.3  (03-31-2005)
Outreach Planning

  1. The FSLG Specialist is responsible for developing a plan within an assigned geographical area.

  2. The first step in conducting outreach is to develop a plan of action that includes identifying customers that would benefit from outreach and establishing priorities for the use of resources. This action is necessary to document the reasons customers were selected in particular market segments. The plan should also include any trends, issues and problems that have been identified within each market segment.

  3. Within a state, outreach and customer assistance may be conducted simultaneously. The plan of action developed by the Specialist should include all these activities, with resources allocated based on the determined needs within the state.

  4. Depending on the nature of the outreach, the activity should be coordinated with appropriate internal and/or external partners. For example, Specialists conducting outreach to a state or local employer regarding a Section 218 issue should consider coordinating the outreach with the State Social Security Administrator and the Regional Social Security Administration office.

  5. Because FSLG shares customers and issues with Governmental Liaison and Disclosure (GLD), Wage and Investment (W&I), Small Business and Self-Employed (SB/SE), Large and Mid-Size Business (LMSB) and Exempt Organization and Employee Plans Divisions of TE/GE, there is often a need for coordination between divisions to ensure customers are best served.

22.40.1.3.1  (03-31-2005)
Information Reporting

  1. A major objective of outreach is to promote awareness of information return reporting. This includes Federal as well as state and local entities. Studies show that the issuance of a Form 1099 greatly increases the likelihood that the income will be reported.

  2. When Forms 1099 are issued, they are included in the Information Reporting Program (IRP) matching process, thus facilitating the verification that the income was reported and identifying taxpayers that fail to file Forms 1040. Information return reporting is an integral part of ensuring voluntary compliance.

  3. The most effective tool in the comprehensive IRP program to improve compliance is general outreach. To educate our customers, we will include this issue in our outreach packages along with other issues. Specialists should include information return reporting in their presentations when discussing worker classification or when the audience has responsibility for the issuance of Form 1099. By speaking to large audiences, we leverage our limited resources to touch the largest number of customers. We expect many entities to "self-correct" once they fully understand their obligations.

  4. The Specialist should also focus on educating the entity about the errors and gaining future compliance. FSLG maintains an ongoing effort to develop, monitor, and revise programs designed to assist taxpayers in complying with legal requirements, thus avoiding penalties.

  5. Specialists should be aware of special requirements applicable to federal agencies. IRC 6050M generally requires Federal agencies to file information returns for Federal contracts for goods and services each calendar quarter. Section 6041A requires Federal agencies to issue Form 1099-MISC, Miscellaneous Income, for all payments in connection with remuneration of more than $600 or payments to a corporation for services performed by the corporation.

22.40.1.4  (03-31-2005)
Outreach Standards

  1. Generally, the FSLG Specialist should respond to a request for outreach assistance within five business days.

  2. The Specialist is responsible for performing outreach activities in a courteous and professional manner.

  3. The Specialist is responsible for making the practical and logistical arrangements necessary to ensure that the presentation can be delivered as planned. This includes contact with local hosting officials concerning the facilities to be used and accommodation of equipment.

  4. Outreach presentations should be delivered in a clear, understandable manner appropriate for the audience.

  5. The Specialist is responsible for assembling necessary materials and ensuring that appropriate materials are distributed to participants at an outreach event.

  6. The Specialist should make participants at an outreach event aware of the availability of individual customer assistance.

  7. For outreach events conducted with other organizations, including other federal, state, or local government agencies, the Specialist will work cooperatively with the representatives of those agencies to develop presentations that most effectively meet the needs of the participants.

  8. The Specialist will review feedback from participants provided either directly or through survey data. This feedback should be incorporated into planning improvements for future outreach events.

  9. The Specialist should determine appropriate outreach materials for use for each specific audience.

22.40.1.5  (03-31-2005)
Outreach Material

  1. It is important for the outreach mission of FSLG to maintain a repository of quality outreach materials for use by FSLG Specialists. Access to this repository can eliminate the need for Specialists to create original products and helps to ensure nationwide consistency in the information presented. CPM maintains a product repository of approved outreach materials for use by any Specialist.

  2. Outreach products include written guides, fact sheets, charts, publications, slides and graphic illustrations, etc., for distribution or availability to the public.

  3. Specialists may use any items in the IRS products catalog as outreach materials without consulting CPM.

  4. Specialists who are planning outreach events should consult the FSLG outreach products directory to determine whether an appropriate product is available. Specialists are encouraged to identify areas for which new materials may be needed.

  5. The Specialist should consult CPM if he or she identifies the need to create a new product that requires substantial time to develop.

  6. Before beginning work on a product that requires substantial time, the Specialist must secure the approval of his or her Field Manager. To ensure consistency, accuracy, and appropriateness, the Specialist must submit any new outreach product to CPM for approval if it contains any unpublished interpretation of tax law or IRS policy information that has not previously been approved by CPM. This applies to products that are adapted from sources other than official IRS products.

  7. When creating a new product, a Specialist should make every effort to conform the material to the latest technical developments, and conform to standard IRS and FSL terminology and usage.

  8. Before using a new product, the Specialist should submit the completed product to CPM for approval. CPM will review for consistency with IRS and FSLG positions, technical accuracy, appropriateness for the audience and editorial standards.

  9. CPM review is not required (but may be requested) for products that contain only general introductory information, local office contact information, or involve only minor changes to established official or approved products.

  10. Products in the FSLG Directory should not be substantially modified or expanded without CPM approval. Excerpts from them can be taken or minor changes can be made (i.e., update annual figures) without specific approval.

  11. In some instances, CPM may request a Specialist to develop, modify, or review an outreach product based on his/her particular expertise in the area.

22.40.1.6  (03-31-2005)
Booth Rental Procedures

  1. This section provides guidelines for submitting a request to rent a booth at a convention, trade show or conference. Staffing a booth and making contact with attendees is one of the methods FSLG may use to reach a larger audience. This guidance addresses the following factors that should be taken into account before submitting a booth rental request:

    • Benefit to FSLG

    • Booth Rental Fee

    • Number of Attendees

    • Miscellaneous Charges

    • Travel Expenses

  2. This section also describes the responsibility of an FSLG Specialist prior to submitting a request, and the responsibility of the FSLG Field Manager once the request has been submitted.

22.40.1.6.1  (01-31-2004)
Pre-Submission

  1. Each FSLG Specialist will consider the background of the attendees and their roles and responsibilities in their respective organizations. This ensures that we fulfill our mission to provide taxpayers with information that will help them to accurately and timely file employment tax returns and information returns. The attendees should include representatives from governmental entities, such as policy makers, payroll and accounting officers, bookkeepers, CPAs, and all others that are in the position to make changes in organizational payroll procedures, information return preparation, or procurement of services.

  2. The booth’s rental cost in dollars should not exceed the expected number of attendees. In other words, there should be at least one attendee per each dollar of rental cost. Often, organizations will offer discounted fees to government agencies, or fees may be waived entirely. Specialists should pursue this option whenever possible. If the cost cannot be waived or reduced, then cost sharing with other divisions (e.g., SB/SE, W/I, and EP) or outside agencies (Social Security Administration, employment development department) should be pursued. The Specialist must consider the total amount of the booth rental fee, which may include miscellaneous charges (e.g., labor union fees, processing fees, and backdrop charges), when negotiating cost sharing. All parties must reach an agreement on payment amounts prior to the submission of a booth rental request.

  3. FSLG Specialists have the authority to negotiate booth rental fees. However, no commitment should be made nor contract signed until the Field Manager approves the request and it is approved and processed by Headquarters (Staff Assistant) as outlined in the next section.

22.40.1.6.2  (03-31-2005)
Submission of Request

  1. The FSLG Specialist will prepare and submit a booth rental request, along with the sponsor’s reservation form, to the Field Manager. Specialists should submit these forms so that there is enough time to process the request before the date of the event or the cut-off date for registration, as defined by the vendor. As a general rule, a minimum of two weeks is required to process a request. The Specialist should retain a copy of the request for his or her records. The Field Manager will conduct an analysis within five days from receipt of the request. The Field Manager will determine whether the outreach objective promotes FSLG’s mission to increase voluntary compliance among Federal, state, local and quasi-governmental agencies. The Field Manager's cost analysis should include the total booth rental fee as well as the cost of travel.

  2. If the Field Manager determines that the event is a cost-effective use of time and resources, the request should be sent to the Management Assistant, who will complete Form 182, Request, Authorization, Agreement and Certification of Training, and will submit it to Headquarters. Headquarters (Staff Assistant) will make the final determination as to whether the Form 182 will be approved based on availability of funds and the Field Manager will be notified of the decision.

22.40.1.6.3  (01-31-2005)
Processing the Request

  1. When the Field Manager approves a request, it will be given to the Management Assistant to process. The Management Assistant is responsible for having the necessary funds committed on the RTS system and for contacting the vendor to make the actual reservation. Reservations will be made by E-mail, phone, fax or mail, as directed by the vendor, using the originating Specialist’s contact information. Vendors will usually send a confirmation to the Specialist. Specialists may also contact the Management Assistant to arrange for forms, publications and any other materials needed for the event.

  2. When the Field Manager does not approve a request, the request form will be annotated to indicate the reason for disapproval. The Field Manager will discuss this information with the Specialist to ensure better understanding of where outreach efforts are to be focused.

  3. Copies of all requests will be retained for data collection at the FSLG office of Compliance and Program Management (CPM).

22.40.1.7  (03-31-2005)
FSLG Outreach Control System

  1. This section provides guidance and instruction on reporting outreach events using the FSLG Outreach Control System. The FSLG Outreach Control System is designed to collect data about FSLG customer outreach efforts. This database system tracks the type and number of customers served, the tax issues discussed, total hours required to complete the outreach event and related travel expense.

  2. FSLG Specialists are required to input all outreach data into the FSLG Outreach Control System on a monthly basis. All outreach activities must be input by the last day of each month.

  3. CPM will aggregate and analyze outreach information from all FSLG field groups.

  4. CPM will provide additional step-by-step instructions electronically to each field group. Consult the group shared drive for additional step-by-step guidance.

22.40.1.7.1  (03-31-2005)
Outreach Activity Codes and Definitions

  1. Use the following activity codes to report outreach contacts on the outreach database:

  2. Activity Type 1 (Customer Outreach) includes:

    • Attendees or participants designated at a speech, workshop, panel discussion, presentation, etc., at which an FSLG employee is an active speaker or presenter and has direct contact with customers.

    • Contact with an individual through a distinct, separate activity. For example, a customer asking questions after attending a presentation (first activity) only counts as one contact. However, if that individual then visits a booth that FSLG maintains (second activity) that person can be counted as a second contact.

    • Individuals who receive materials, information or other assistance at a convention booth or exhibit staffed by FSLG, or receiving material from someone distributing these on behalf of FSLG.

  3. Activity Type 2 (Stakeholder Outreach) includes individuals who receive materials, information or other assistance at a convention booth or exhibit staffed by FSLG, or receiving material from someone distributing these on behalf of FSLG.

  4. Activity Type 6 (Newsletters) includes individuals who receive tax information from an FSLG source, including the FSLG Newsletter, a local newsletter or mail-out. It includes material a Specialist may receive and retransmit. Each individual on the distribution list counts as one outreach contact for each distribution. Receiving information from the FSLG Web Site does not count as Outreach.

  5. Activity Type 9 (Customer Assistance) includes one-on-one assistance with a representative for an entity to provide remedies for its individual tax situation. (See IRM 4.90.2, Customer Assistance, for more information.)

22.40.1.7.2  (03-31-2005)
Recording the Number of Outreaches

  1. There should be one event report per event, regardless of the number of FSLG participants. If multiple Specialists participate in an outreach event, the lead employee for the event should file one event report for the entire activity. For example, three Specialists and a management assistant operate a booth at a four-day event. One event took place and one outreach entry is required.

  2. If a Specialist(s) provides a seminar on FSLG tax issues and also operates a booth at a four-day event, an outreach entry is required for both the seminar and the booth activity.

22.40.1.7.3  (03-31-2005)
Determining the Number of Customers Reached

  1. Customers Reached (Customer Outreach) is defined as the total number of non-IRS external customers involved in each customer educational event. The number is based on the best available information (actual overall registration or actual head count). If this activity is a booth event, the number is based on the total number of visitors to the booth or total number of handouts distributed. If more than one operating unit participates in the same event, each will count its respective customers.

  2. Customers Reached (Stakeholder Outreach) is defined as the total number of non-IRS external customers involved in each customer partnership meeting. The number is based on the best available information, which includes actual registration or actual head count.

22.40.1.8  (03-31-2005)
Outreach Quality Measurement Standards

  1. Standard #1 OUTREACH PREPARATION Purpose: This standard measures whether the Specialist prepared adequately to deliver an effective presentation. Information coordination among our external and internal partners will ensure the most meaningful presentations. The Specialist will consider the audience level of tax knowledge during this preparation phase.

      Key Element Definition
    A. Initiates contact with customer to establish the needs and tax knowledge level of the audience.Recommendation: Make the initial contact within five business days of the customer's request. Establishes the needs and tax knowledge level of the audience: Information to be obtained will include the agenda of topics, tax expertise level of the audience, number of persons to be present, facility layout, equipment availability, etc. The pre-seminar questionnaire provides the written documentation of this information.Initiates contact with customer: Information is solicited in advance of the speaking engagement from the point of contact by means of a standard pre-seminar letter and questionnaire. Telephone calls or E-mails may facilitate the gathering of essential information as well.
    B. Coordinates with internal as well as "external" professional partners to participate and/or cosponsor events when appropriate.Recommendation: Within five business days, contact any internal or external resource persons you are inviting to the outreach effort (based on customer consent). Coordinates with internal professional partners: When appropriate, solicit participation from our internal partners (Small Business/Self-Employed, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure, Employee Plans, Exempt Organizations, etc.) when their expertise is needed.Coordinates with external professional partners: Extends invitations to the State Social Security Administrator (SSSA), Parallel Social Security Officer (PSSO), SSA Employer Service Liaison Officer (ESLO), and (in some regions), the SSA Wage Reporting Specialist. These SSA officials can address Form W-2 paper, electronic, magnetic media and Internet filing and reporting. SSA also offers other employer services such as SSN verification.When time constraints permit and the customer is agreeable to it, participation from our internal and external cadre of partners may add considerable value to the total program package offered to our customers.
    C. Assembles all necessary materials to deliver an effective presentation. Assembles all necessary materials: Adequate numbers of relevant documents are ordered to clarify or support technical/procedural topics presented. The Resource Research materials lists are used.Makes effective presentation: Presentation materials, PowerPoint, etc., are reviewed for current relevant content before presentations. Corrections or changes to materials are documented.

  2. Standard #2 PRESENTATION SKILLS Purpose: This standard measures the effectiveness of the presentation. The Specialist must provide an organized and knowledgeable presentation that addresses the concerns of the customer, allow time for questions, and provide a means for customer follow-up after the presentation is over. The Specialist creates a proper environment through professional appearance, demeanor, and attitude.

      Key Element Definition
    A. Addresses the needs of the customer. The Specialist delivers a presentation that includes issues requested by the customer during the initial contact. These issues are discussed, explained, and clarified. If issues are raised that were not a part of the scheduled agenda, the Specialist addresses these to the extent possible. If further research or referral to another division is required, the Specialist makes contact with the customer within ten calendar days following the presentation.
    B. Creates the proper environment by maintaining and conveying a professional attitude. Creates the proper environment: The proper environment is created by a combination of appropriate dress, demeanor, and attitude on the part of the Specialist. The environment is one where good service to the customer is the goal.Maintains and conveys a professional attitude: A professional and neutral tone is established throughout the presentation. When challenged the Specialist is not defensive, threatening or intimidating. The forum remains an open environment for questions, suggestions, comments, etc. from the audience.
    C. Delivers an understandable and relevant presentation that is technically accurate and procedurally correct. Delivers understandable and relevant presentation: The seminar/speech should be "user- friendly", using plain language and concrete examples to explain abstract theory as much as possible. When available, uses examples, rulings, and guidance that specifically apply to governmental employers.Provides technically accurate and procedurally correct information: The Specialist is knowledgeable in the topics covered so that an understanding of our technical and procedural requirements may be imparted to the customer.
    D. Ensures that customers are aware of Customer Assistance. Customer Assistance awareness: Makes the customer aware of available Customer Assistance during the event by giving a short overview of the process and it’s purpose.
    E. Provides audience with the GE Event Feedback Survey form at the presentation. Forwards completed forms to CPM. The standard evaluation form, the GE Activity/Event Feedback Survey, is available from the FSLG electronic repository and should be distributed to the audience at the beginning of the presentation. Customers may rate, and comment on, the overall effectiveness of the presentation as it takes place. The Specialists should send completed forms promptly to CPM.

  3. Standard #3 FOLLOW-UP PROCEDURES

      Key Element Definition
    A. Inputs outreach information into the FSLG Outreach Control System by the last day of the month during which the presentation was made. Outreach Information: When and where the event took place, the number of individuals attending the seminar, the topics discussed, and length of time of the presentation must be reported. The Specialist also provides feedback as to problems encountered and possible solutions.This information is input into the FSLG Outreach Control System.
    B. Follows through with telephone contact and correspondence to the customer, as appropriate. Telephone contact: Follow-up is essential in building lasting relationships with our customers. In a follow-up telephone conversation (or E-mail), the Specialist checks to see whether the point of contact has any further concerns that were not addressed in the presentation or concerns for which we can offer future assistance.Correspondence to the customer: A closing letter of thanks should be sent to the point of contact. The letter asks the customer to make referrals of other governmental entities that may want an IRS presentation.


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