25.13.1  Taxpayer Correspondence Services

25.13.1.1  (01-01-2011)
Overview of Taxpayer Correspondence Services

  1. Purpose. This IRM section describes the responsibilities of the new Office of Taxpayer Correspondence (OTC). OTC was established to centralize Servicewide responsibility for taxpayer correspondence.

  2. Scope. OTC is the IRS hub for comprehensive correspondence services — from design and development to effectiveness and downstream impact. Working as partners with the business, OTC provides consistency, quality, and plain-language for notices and letters with the goal of helping taxpayers take the appropriate action to resolve their tax issues. OTC is the IRS knowledge broker for correspondence and partners with the business to enable data-driven decisions.

  3. Key Responsibilities. Key responsibilities of the OTC include correspondence creation and revision, forecasting and measuring downstream impact of new and changes to existing correspondence, correspondence data collection, notice effectiveness evaluations, and implementation of IRS correspondence standards, procedures, and policies.

  4. Green Button Process. Committed to delivering world-class service to both internal and external customers, OTC has devised a user-friendly online process through which all requests to revise or create IRS correspondence to taxpayers must be submitted. The "Green Button" service can be found at the OTC Web site: http://win.web.irs.gov/TPC/TPC.htm. Requests for taxpayer correspondence data must also be submitted via this link.

  5. Red Button Process. Production & Operations (P&O) (formerly the Notice Gatekeeper Office) is the enterprise point-of-contact for reporting risk of, or actual issuance of, erroneous taxpayer correspondence. Instructions for reporting incidents of erroneous correspondence and use of the "Red Button" reporting process remain unchanged and can be found in IRM 25.13.1.3, Erroneous Correspondence Procedures - Red Button Process.

25.13.1.1.1  (01-01-2011)
Office of Taxpayer Correspondence

  1. The Office of Taxpayer Correspondence (OTC) merged the responsibilities of the former Taxpayer Communications Task Group, Notice Gatekeeper, and Notice Improvement Offices to create simpler, easier to read correspondence for taxpayers, reduce taxpayer burden, and broaden the use of electronic interactions with a focus on successful taxpayer and business outcomes.

  2. OTC has Enterprise responsibility for the following activities:

    1. Taxpayer communications, both electronic and paper.

    2. Point-of-contact when significant volumes of erroneous correspondence are issued or are at risk of being issued.

    3. Point-of-contact for any issuance of Erroneous Taxpayer Correspondence (ETC).

  3. The Red-Button Process is the process for handling erroneous taxpayer correspondence. IRM 25.13.1.3.

25.13.1.2  (01-01-2011)
Correspondence Services - Green Button Process

  1. OTC was established to centralize responsibility for taxpayer correspondence. OTC’s key responsibilities include the following:

    • Correspondence creation and revision

    • Forecasting and measuring downstream impact of changes to correspondence

    • Correspondence data collection

    • Notice effectiveness evaluation

    • Implementation of IRS correspondence standards, procedures, and policies

  2. Submit requests for OTC services through the Green Button application found at the OTC Web site: http://win.web.irs.gov/TPC/TPC.htm

25.13.1.2.1  (01-01-2011)
Requests for New and Revised Taxpayer Correspondence Products

  1. OTC will work with the business owners to create and revise taxpayer correspondence from all functional areas. The correspondence includes the following:

    • CP Notices

    • Correspondex Letters

    • Repository Letters

    • ACS Letters

    • RGS Letters

    Note:

    Media & Publications Publishing is responsible for the development and revision of most forms and publications. Refer to IRM 1.17.2, Publishing Management, for instructions.

  2. Requestors should include the following when submitting a request:

    • Name and number of the letter or notice for a revised product

    • A brief description of a new product

  3. Draft copies of letters or notices, Publishing Services Requests, and UWR are not required. OTC will work with the business to develop and design all necessary documents.

25.13.1.2.2  (01-01-2011)
Requests for Correspondence Data, Forecasting and Downstream Impacts

  1. OTC will provide data, analysis and metrics for correspondence issues. This includes forecasting and downstream impacts.

  2. The reports include the following types of data:

    1. Historical volumes of notices generated

    2. Historical response rates for toll-free phones and paper processing

    3. Projected response rates for toll-free phones and paper processing

    4. Correspondence cost information including postage costs

    5. Sample images of correspondence (not reprints of notices/letters sent to taxpayers)

    6. Sample data sets from notice populations

  3. Include as much information as possible to describe the desired information.

    Note:

    Do not include PII information.

25.13.1.3  (01-01-2011)
Erroneous Correspondence Procedures - Red Button Process

  1. All IRS employees are responsible for reporting any instance of erroneous taxpayer correspondence once it has been identified. Employees who identify a potential ETC must discuss the correspondence with their lead or manager to determine whether it is truly erroneous. If ETC is identified, or it is not possible to determine if Erroneous Taxpayer Correspondence has potentially occurred, report the ETC to P&O for review.

  2. Reports of Erroneous Taxpayer Correspondence (ETC) must be submitted through the Red Button application found at the Servicewide Notice Information Program (SNIP) Web site.

  3. Erroneous taxpayer correspondence contains taxpayer information and includes any of the following:

    • Errors in the correspondence content, or

    • Correspondence generated in error, or

    • Correspondence sent to the wrong party (see IRM 25.13.1.3.1 below).

  4. Erroneous taxpayer correspondence may be generated in any of the following formats:

    • Notices

    • Letters

    • Transcripts

    • Faxes and other electronic transmissions

  5. Errors in the correspondence content include but are not limited to:

    • Mixed entity information (e.g., correct taxpayer information is on page one, but unrelated taxpayer information is on page two);

    • Incorrect, missing or unreadable text (e.g., incorrect phone number, wrong or missing tax period or MFT, blurry or misaligned print);

    • Incorrect account information (e.g., $100,000 instead of $10,000; math error explanation in correspondence doesn't match math error code on Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS));

    • Nonsensical/garbled content (i.e., the text makes no sense or is unreadable);

    • Incorrect fill−in information (e.g., dollar amounts, math error codes, etc., don't match what is present on IDRS);

    • Misspellings, typographical errors, or incorrect text in the body of the correspondence;

    • Potential Breaches of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) data caused by multiple documents in one envelope, taxpayer/TIN mismatch, misdirected faxes, etc. Refer to IRM 1.4.18.11.4, PII (Personally Identifiable Information), for a more comprehensive definition of PII.

  6. Correspondence generated in error includes but is not limited to:

    • Return Delinquency notices generated to taxpayers who timely filed;

    • Math error notice issued but return was correct as filed.

  7. Take the following actions when responding to a report of simple misdirected correspondence or a potential ETC:

    1. Apologize and politely ask the caller to return the misdirected correspondence to the IRS mailing address shown on the envelope or correspondence and include a note stating "Misdirected Correspondence" or (if applicable) ask the caller to tape the envelope shut and mark the envelope "Misdirected Mail" and "Return to Sender" .

    2. If the taxpayer refuses to return misdirected correspondence, advise the caller to please destroy it.

      Note:

      Misdirected correspondence generated by IRS employees following all established procedures to locate and contact a taxpayer at a potential new address, or correspondence generated to a taxpayer’s IRS address of record, does not generally meet ETC criteria and should not be reported.

  8. If the misdirected correspondence is also a potential ETC, complete the Erroneous Taxpayer Correspondence Issuance Reporting Form. Instructions for completing are provided throughout the form. The ETC Issuance Report Form is accessible by clicking on the red Report Erroneous Correspondence button on the Servicewide Notice Information Program (SNIP) Web site.

    Note:

    Complete as much detail as possible on the form including details of the error and how it was identified. Please include any personally identifiable information (PII) needed for research. The PII information will be encrypted when the form is completed and transmitted to P&O. P&O staff will review the report and contact you for additional information within two (2) business days, if necessary.

  9. Record the Erroneous Taxpayer Correspondence report number provided by the web site after completing the Erroneous Taxpayer Correspondence Issuance Reporting Form. Provide this number with any material submitted to P&O.

  10. For all potential ETC reports, request a copy of the correspondence from the taxpayer.

    1. If the taxpayer has access to a fax machine and is willing to fax it, ask them to fax it to you.

    2. If the taxpayer is unable or unwilling to mail or fax the information back to you, ask them to destroy the erroneous taxpayer correspondence.

    3. Upon receipt of the erroneous taxpayer correspondence by fax or by mail, fax it to P&O at the fax number provided on the fax cover sheet you received upon submitting your Erroneous Taxpayer Correspondence Issuance Reporting Form.

      Note:

      The Production & Operations fax number is for internal use only. Do not provide the fax number to the taxpayer.

25.13.1.3.1  (01-01-2011)
Red Button Disclosure Reporting

  1. The following procedures describe the requirement for reporting disclosure incidents involving the potential issuance of erroneous taxpayer correspondence.

    Reminder:

    This process is an exception to the normal Computer Security Incident Response Center (CSIRC) requirements for disclosure incidents involving potential losses of PII data. Production & Operations is responsible for notifying CSIRC as necessary after an initial analysis of the incident.

  2. Potential breaches of PII through taxpayer correspondence includes but is not limited to:

    • Information faxed, mailed, E−mailed, electronically transmitted, personally delivered to an unauthorized party (e.g., transcripts transmitted to wrong account, mis-dialed fax numbers, tax information viewable through a window envelope);

    • Multiples documents issued in the same envelope or package involving unrelated tax accounts (e.g., a double−stuffed envelope).

    Note:

    Correspondence sent to the taxpayer’s address of record, even if the taxpayer no longer resides or receives mail at the address, as well as correspondence sent to locate delinquent taxpayers, is not erroneous taxpayer correspondence and does not need to be reported to either Production & Operations or CSIRC. Refer to IRM 21.1.3.2.2, Authorized and Unauthorized Disclosures.

  3. Potential breaches of PII through taxpayer correspondence should be reported to P&O following IRM 25.13.1.3 above.


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