25.15.16  Telephone Contacts

Manual Transmittal

March 12, 2013

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 25.15.16 Relief from Joint and Several Liability, Telephone Contacts.

Material Changes

(1) Editorial changes have been made throughout this IRM.

(2) IRM 25.15.16.2(2) and (3) revised instructions for concluding the call. Note: This change supersedes changes previously made to this subsection identified in IPU 110865 issued 04-25-2011 and IPU 12U0297 issued 02-01-2012.

(3) IRM 25.15.16.2(3) added internal calls.

(4) IRM 25.15.16.2.1(1) revised instructions when greeting the taxpayer.

(5) IRM 25.15.16.2.2 created a new (2) for AUR calls.

(6) IPU 111452 issued 08-31-2011 IRM 25.15.16.2.2(1) changed "can be transferred" to "must be transferred" .

(7) IRM 25.15.16.2(2)2 removed the Note.

(8) IRM 25.15.16.3(1) added a note when taxpayers are transferred from another area.

(9) IRM 25.15.16.4.1(2) updated TAS referral criteria.

(10) IRM 25.15.16.4.1(11) removed (c) and (d) as they are no longer applicable.

(11) IPU 111452 issued 08-31-2011 incorporated and added IRM 25.15.16.4.2 new instructions for calls relating to identity theft.

(12) IRM 25.15.16.4.3 added new instructions for the victim of domestic violence (VODV) indicator.

(13) IRM 25.15.16.5 deleted existing procedures and referenced IRM 21.2.1.60 for deaf/hard of hearing taxpayers.

(14) IRM 25.15.16.7(8) corrected IRM reference for FOIA.

(15) IRM 25.15.16.8 restructured (3).

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 25.15.16, Telephone Contacts, dated February 22, 2011. IRM Procedural Update (IPU) 111452, issued August 31, 2011, and IPU 12U0297, issued February 1, 2012, have been incorporated into this IRM.

Audience

Employees working innocent spouse claims

Effective Date

(03-12-2013)

Steven Klingel
Director, Reporting Compliance
Wage and Investment Division

25.15.16.1  (03-04-2008)
Overview

  1. Employees are responsible for providing the best possible service to all taxpayers. Contact with taxpayers should instill confidence in the integrity and efficiency of the IRS by providing top quality customer service.

  2. There are four primary goals associated with quality customer assistance:

    1. Maintain professional courtesy

    2. Control the direction of the contact

    3. Give accurate and complete assistance

    4. Resolve the taxpayer’s issue, to the extent possible

  3. See IRM 21.1.3.2.2, Authorized and Unauthorized Disclosures, for information on authorized and unauthorized disclosures.

25.15.16.2  (03-12-2013)
Key Points for Each Call

  1. Key points for every call:

    1. IRM 25.15.16.7(7), Contact Recording, if the caller indicates that he/she does not wish to be recorded.

    2. Maintain professional courtesy.

    3. Control direction of the call, keep focused on resolution of taxpayer’s issues.

    4. Give accurate and complete assistance. Provide the best resolution on the limited information available.

    5. Do not use IRS jargon.

    6. Verify the taxpayer's phone number on the Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS) command code (CC) ENMOD. If there is no phone number on ENMOD or the phone number is incorrect, input the correct phone number. This is required on all account related calls in which disclosure verification has occurred.

      Note:

      If ENMOD or IDRS is currently unavailable, update the information when the system is available.

    7. Record the telephone contact in Accounts Management System (AMS).

      Exception:

      It is not necessary to document telephone contact if you were not required to apply the disclosure verification because it was a general inquiry not requiring IDRS research.

    8. If the taxpayer expresses interest in filing a claim or is calling regarding the status of their claim, ensure that the taxpayer is provided with appropriate information regarding the innocent spouse claim process and time frames.

    9. Ensure timely telephone responses to taxpayers by returning calls within three business days.

    10. Use appropriate hold procedures. Only place the caller on hold if researching information is not readily available. You must provide a reason for placing the taxpayer on hold, ask for permission and wait for response. Check back with the taxpayers on hold at appropriate intervals. Thank the taxpayer for holding.

  2. At the end of the call, except as noted in (3) below, the employee will:

    1. Reiterate what the taxpayer needs to do or has agreed to do to resolve their case.

    2. Repeat the deadlines before our next actions are taken.

    3. Emphasize what the next action will be if they take no action.

    4. Ask if they have any questions about anything discussed.

  3. A complete summarization of the call is not required when:

    • The caller is requesting ONLY a fax number, address, how to make a payment, or other general questions that do not require IDRS research.

    • Speaking with a power of attorney or tax preparer.

    • No functional information was discussed and the taxpayer was just transferred to another function.

    • All issues are resolved. The employee is only required to state that the case is being closed and ask if they have any questions.

    • In the event of system outage; only general guidance is given.

    • Internal calls between IRS employees.

25.15.16.2.1  (03-12-2013)
Communication Skills

  1. During a contact you must greet the taxpayer.

    1. saying "Internal Revenue Service"

    2. provide your Title (e.g., Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss), Last Name, and Identification (ID Badge) Number or, if the IRS HSPD-12 (SmartID Card) is issued, use the last seven digits of your Personal Identification Number (PID) OR your First Name, Last Name, and Identification (ID Badge) Number or, if the IRS HSPD-12 (SmartID Card) is issued, use the last seven digits of your Personal Identification Number (PID).

    3. Speak to the taxpayer in a pleasant manner indicating a willingness to help by using an appropriate phrase such as "May I help you?" or "How can I help you?"

  2. Target the taxpayer's question.

    1. Deal with the taxpayer's feelings noticeable through tone, voice inflection, and rate of speech.

    2. Ask the appropriate questions to determine the inquiry.

    3. Use appropriate paraphrasing showing you comprehend and have identified the question.

  3. Disclosure Verification - must occur before accessing the taxpayer's account. Follow the guidelines outlined in IRM 25.15.16.3, Taxpayer Authentication, and IRM 21.1.3.2.4, Additional Taxpayer Authentication.

  4. Research CC ENMOD for a VODV - 1, indicating that the RS has indicated that they are a Victim of Domestic Violence. Proceed with extra caution to protect the personal information of the abused spouse. Be aware that the RS may be emotional and hesitate to provide information. Be sensitive to the situation.

    Note:

    You may provide referral information to the RS for the National Domestic Violence Hotline unless they indicate they do not want it. If the RS is in immediate danger, refer the RS to 911. If the RS is concerned for their safety, but not in immediate danger, refer the RS to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1–800–799–SAFE (7233), 1–800–787–3224 for TTY or (206) 787–3224, which is a video phone for deaf callers only.

  5. Get the necessary facts.

    1. Use a purpose statement (when appropriate) to prepare taxpayer for a series of questions.

      Example:

      "In order to protect your privacy, I must ask the following questions." This or a similar statement could precede required authentication probing.

    2. Ask questions pertinent to the inquiry in order to obtain the information necessary to answer the inquiry.

    3. Record the facts on paper, job aid, or other methods to help you remember specific details.

  6. Provide assistance.

    1. Provide accurate and complete information. Explain any procedures and order necessary forms and publications.

    2. If you are unable to research the account, advise the taxpayer he/she could try back later to determine if the system is up or document the taxpayer's name, social security number (SSN), and issue and advise the taxpayer you will call back when the system is up.

    3. Do not keep the taxpayer on hold for more than a few minutes without giving him/her an explanation and apology. Advise the taxpayer of the reason for the delay (e.g., additional research needed, etc.). If additional research time is or will be too lengthy, offer to return the call with the information requested.

  7. The question, no matter how important, becomes irrelevant if the response is not accurately understood. Ways to enhance listening include:

    1. Listening for the meaning of words. If the taxpayer’s response is unclear, try paraphrasing or repeating what was said.

    2. Not interrupting the taxpayer and allowing a brief pause at the end of the response. Use the time to analyze the response and, if appropriate, formulate a follow-up question.

  8. Close the conversation.

    1. Verify taxpayer's comprehension by asking if he/she understands information given.

    2. Conclude the contact courteously and/or apologizing if the Service has made an error.

  9. If taxpayer expresses interest in filing a claim or is calling regarding the status of their claim, ensure that the taxpayer is provided with appropriate information regarding the innocent spouse claim process and timeframes.

  10. When you make outgoing phone calls, or when you leave a voice mail message in response to a caller’s voice mail message, state the following:

    1. Your title (e.g., Mr., Mrs., Ms, Miss), last name, and ID badge number (or last 7 digits of PID, if IRS HSPD-12 (SmartID Card) issued) OR your first name, last name, and ID badge number (or last 7 digits of PID, if IRS HSPD-12 (SmartID Card) issued)

    2. That you are with the IRS

    3. That you are calling in response to his/her inquiry on (date)

    4. The telephone number to call to request additional assistance

  11. When you initiate an outgoing phone call, the taxpayer may be reluctant to give you his/her taxpayer identification number (TIN). To ease any concerns that the taxpayer may have, provide the taxpayer with the last four digits of his/her TIN. Then, request that the taxpayer verify the first five digits. After you verify the TIN, follow IRM 25.15.16.3, Taxpayer Authentication.

  12. Do not leave confidential tax information on a voice mail message or an answering machine message. See IRM 11.3.2.6.1, Leaving Information on Answering Machines/Voice Mail, for additional criteria for leaving messages on answering machines/voice mail.

25.15.16.2.2  (03-12-2013)
Questions Unrelated to Innocent Spouse

  1. Calls unrelated to innocent spouse must be transferred to Accounts Management (AM), Automated Underreporters (AUR), Automated Collection System (ACS), and Exam as appropriate. The following list includes some situations (not all inclusive) where the call must be transferred:

    1. Tax law or other account questions, not related to the innocent spouse issue, to AM.

    2. International calls to the Philadelphia International line

    3. Open Exam cases to Exam

  2. For AUR calls:

    1. Verify there is an open TC 922 on the IDRS CC TXMOD. Research the Underreporter Process Codes listed to verify AUR is still working the case. These codes are found in Chapter 8C5, Section 19 of Document 6209, IRS Processing Codes and Information.

    2. Refer to IRM 21.3.1.4.59, Resolving or Referring Underreporter Cases, for guidance on which calls can be transferred to AUR.

    Note:

    Do not transfer calls that do not meet the AUR criteria above.

  3. Prior to transferring any calls:

    1. Ensure that all innocent spouse issues have been addressed.

    2. Tell the taxpayer they are being transferred and what topic to request after the transfer.

  4. Use the following table to determine the transfer number:

    Summary Table of Transfers
    Function Topic Transfer Number
    AM Tax Law #92001
    Refunds #92020 English
    #92021 Spanish
     
    Balance Due (not status 22) #92010 English
    #92011 Spanish
     
     
    ACS Balance Due (status 22) #92080 W&I English #92071 W&I Spanish #92075 Small Business/Self Employment (SB/SE) English
    #92076 SB/SE Spanish
     
     
     
     
    AUR Open cases, see IRM 21.3.1.4.58(1) #92241 W&I English #92242 W&I Spanish #92341 SB/SE English #92342 SB/SE Spanish  
     
     
     
    Exam Primary Business Code 190–194 Open W&I Exam cases #92217 W&I English #92218 W&I Spanish  
    Exam Primary Business Code 295–299 Open SB/SE Exam cases
    #92461 SB/SE English
    #92462 SB/SE Spanish
     
    International International issues 1–267–941–1000 (not toll-free)  
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

25.15.16.3  (03-12-2013)
Taxpayer Authentication

  1. For purposes of identification and to prevent unauthorized disclosures of tax information, you must know with whom you are speaking and the purpose of the call. It may be necessary to ask the taxpayer if he or she is an Individual Master File (IMF) taxpayer (primary or secondary) or an authorized third party.

    Note:

    If a taxpayer has been transferred from another area and they provide a 4-digit transfer personal identification number (PIN) they received from another area, verify the PIN via IDRS CC ENMOD. ENMOD history will indicate the date and time the transfer PIN was issued. If the history indicates the PIN was provided on the same day, you can accept the PIN and do not have to conduct the taxpayer authentication probe. If the PIN does not match, the taxpayer authentication probe is required.

    Caution:

    Inadequate authentication of the identity of a caller could result in an "unauthorized disclosure" of return or return information. If an IRS employee makes a knowing or negligent unauthorized disclosure, the United States may be liable for damages in a civil cause of action. If an IRS employee makes a voluntary, intentional disclosure, the employee may be subject to criminal penalties including a fine, imprisonment, and loss of employment. See IRC 7213, IRC 7213A and IRC 7431.

    Note:

    Taxpayers may call requesting general information that does not require account research.

  2. If you can assist the taxpayer, go to the authentication probes shown in paragraph (3) below. If the caller is an authorized third party, go to IRM 21.1.3.3, Third Party (POA/TIA/F706) Authentication.

    Note:

    Do not proceed with authentication probes if the caller is an unauthorized third party. If the caller has information to provide on the taxpayer's behalf, accept the information according to IRM 21.1.3.4(6) through (9), Other Third Party Inquiries.

    Note:

    A full authentication check is not necessary if a taxpayer requests tax account information to be mailed to him/her at the address of record and no account information is provided verbally. See 21.1.3.9, Mailing and Faxing Tax Account Information.

  3. Required authentication probes:

    1. TIN [e.g., SSN, individual tax identification number (ITIN), employer identification number (EIN)] - If the taxpayer is inquiring about an IMF jointly filed return, only one TIN is necessary, preferably the primary number.

    2. The secondary TIN may be required if the primary is unavailable, or for use as an additional authentication check.

      Caution:

      You must be certain that the caller is entitled to receive all the requested information.

    3. Name - as it appears on the tax return (for the tax year(s) in question), including spouse’s name for joint IMF. If the name is different than what is shown, ask the taxpayer if they ever went by another name or filed under another name.

      Note:

      If the caller is unable to provide "1" or "2" , and "3" above, advise the caller to call back when he/she has re-checked the taxpayer name and TIN. Terminate the call.

    4. Current address-- If taxpayer fails to provide the correct address of record, but correctly responds to all of the other items (IMF - name, SSN, and date of birth), you must request additional taxpayer authentication pursuant to IRM 21.1.3.2.4, Additional Taxpayer Authentication.

      Note:

      If you are unable to verify address on IDRS, request address as it appears on the last tax return or as modified by IRS records.

      Reminder:

      If available, you may use AMS Privacy and Disclosure Verification screens to access IDRS.

      Note:

      Input any acceptable changes to the address. See IRM 3.13.5.28, Address Changes from Oral Statements/Telephone Contact , and IRM 3.13.5.28.1, Procedures on Completing an Address Update/Change due to "Oral" Statements/Telephone Contact , for more detailed procedures of when you can input an address change.

    5. Date of birth (DOB) of primary or secondary taxpayer (IMF) - If the taxpayer fails the DOB probe, but correctly responds to all other items above (name, SSN, and address), you must request additional taxpayer authentication pursuant to IRM 21.1.3.2.4, Additional Taxpayer Authentication.

      Note:

      If there is a discrepancy with the DOB on IRS records IDRS CC INOLE but you are confident (taxpayer has passed authentication requirements) that you are speaking with the taxpayer, advise the taxpayer to contact the Social Security Administration (SSA) at 1-800-772-1213 to correct the error.

  4. For first time filers, if the return is not completely processed, you can verify: amount of refund and filing status on IDRS CC FFINQ and name control and DOB on IDRS CC INOLE.

    Note:

    "Verify the amount of refund" is not one of the required authentication probes. This is additional information that can be used to authenticate first time filers.

  5. To validate a caller's information (e.g., name and TIN) prior to providing any tax account information, you must research one or more of the following Corporate Files on Line (CFOL) or IDRS CCs. Generally, you will start your search with IDRS CC

    • INOLE

    • IMFOL

    • BMFOL

    • RTVUE

    • BRTVU

    • TRDBV

    • NAMES

    • SUMRY

    • TXMOD

    • ENMOD

    • REINF

    Note:

    You may research IDRS CC IRPOL and IDRS CC SUPOL for additional verification, but do not use this research as a primary or only source of taxpayer verification.

    Reminder:

    If available, you may use AMS Privacy and Disclosure Verification screens to access IDRS.

  6. After satisfactory verification, provide the information requested.

  7. See IRM 11.3.2, Disclosure to Persons with a Material Interest, for information on authorized recipients of return information.

  8. For instructions on answering Congressional inquiries, see IRM 21.1.3.18, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Guidelines.

  9. For additional instructions on disclosure to designees and practitioners, see IRM 11.3.3, Disclosure to Designees and Practitioners.

  10. Other applicable IRM sections: IRM 21.1.3.3(1) and (2), Third Party (POA/TIA/F706) Authentication and IRM 21.1.3.4, Other Third Party Inquiries.

25.15.16.4  (12-23-2009)
Types of Calls

  1. Cold Call - is any call received on the Innocent Spouse Toll-Free line not routed to a specific extension.

  2. Extension Routed Call - is a call routed to the extension entered by the taxpayer. In order to provide taxpayers information on when a return call can be expected, you are required to update voice-mail messages with the tour of duty and/or absences. Follow the requirements as stated in IRM 25.15.16.3, Taxpayer Authentication, regarding identification; disclosure; and IRM 25.15.16.2, Key Points for Each Call.

  3. Effective January 4, 2010, taxpayers calling a particular extension will be rolled over to another extension when the person on the first extension is not available. These calls will be handled in the same manner as a call from a taxpayer you are working with. Complete the disclosure rules and update all systems documenting that a call was received and the outcome of the call. In the rare occasion when the taxpayer needs a return phone call, advise the taxpayer the employee assigned to work their case should return their call within three business days. Send a secure e-mail with the taxpayer's name, SSN and tax period to the employee assigned the case with a carbon copy (CC) to their manager. The employee receiving the e-mail can review AMS for any other information about the call.

25.15.16.4.1  (03-12-2013)
Cold Calls

  1. The cold call line is for answering general questions.

  2. Refer taxpayers to the TAS (See IRM 13.1, Taxpayer Advocate Case Procedures) when the contact meets TAS criteria (See IRM 13.1.7, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Case Criteria) and the taxpayer’s issue cannot be resolved the same day. The definition of "same day" is within 24 hours. "Same day" cases include cases that can be completely resolved in 24 hours, as well as, cases in which you have taken steps within 24 hours to begin resolving the taxpayer’s issue. Do not refer "same day" cases to TAS unless the taxpayer asks to be transferred to TAS and the case meets TAS criteria. Refer to IRM 13.1.7.4, Same Day Resolution by Operations. When you refer cases to TAS, use Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (and Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order), and forward to TAS.

  3. IRM 25.15.3.2, Election for Relief under IRC 6015, gives general information about elections for relief under IRC 6015.

  4. IRM 25.15.3.6, IRC 6015(b) - Innocent Spouse Relief Qualifications, lists the requirements for relief under IRC 6015(b).

  5. IRM 25.15.3.7, IRC 6015(c) - Election to Allocate a Deficiency, lists the requirements for relief under IRC 6015(c).

    Note:

    Explain the collection statute extension for claims filed for relief under IRC 6015(b) and IRC 6015(c), and for claims filed under IRC 6015(f) when liability arose on or after December 20, 2006 or liability remained unpaid as of that date.

  6. IRM 25.15.3.8, IRC 6015(f) Equitable Relief, lists the requirements for relief under IRC 6015(f).

  7. IRM 25.15.5.9.2, Equitable Relief, lists the requirements for relief under IRC 66(c) equitable relief involving community property.

  8. If a taxpayer requests Form 8857, Request for Innocent Spouse Relief, ask the taxpayer if he or she has access to the internet. If the taxpayer does, advise the taxpayer that Form 8857 and Publication 971, Innocent Spouse Relief, are available on http://www.irs.gov, or ask the taxpayer if he or she would prefer to have the form mailed. If the taxpayer wants the form mailed, send Form 8857 with the instructions and Publication 971.

    1. Explain the requirement to contact the other spouse and that the estimated time frame for processing the claim could be up to six months.

      Reminder:

      If a RS claims abuse and fears retaliation explain that IRC 6015(e)(4) requires IRS to contact the NRS and give them an opportunity to participate in the proceeding. Advise the taxpayer that the IRS will not disclose any current information regarding the last name, address, or employer information to the non-requesting spouse. If the RS does not want IRS to contact the NRS the RS should not file a claim.

    2. Explain where the taxpayer must send the completed and signed form as outlined in Form 8857 instructions.

    3. Advise the taxpayer to indicate the year(s) he/she is requesting relief for on the Form 8857. The request year should be the year where the tax balance is (or was, if full paid) NOT the refund year.

      Example:

      Bryan's refund from his 2010 head of household return is offset to the 2008 joint (Alice and Bryan) liability. When Bryan files his claim, he should indicate tax year 2008 on the Form 8857.

    4. Input a history item "F8857TOTP" on AMS

      Note:

      Three tax years may be included on the same Form 8857.

  9. A written statement requesting relief from joint and several liability, which contains the information required on Form 8857 and a valid jurat (penalties of perjury) signature, must be processed as a Form 8857.

    Note:

    The written statement is referred to as Form 8857 for purposes of the instructions in this IRM.

  10. If a taxpayer claims his or her signature was forged refer to IRM 25.15.7.10.13.5.1, Tacit Consent Factors, and explain the tacit consent factors. Advise the taxpayer that a determination of forgery would mean that the joint election is invalid and the taxpayer may owe tax if he or she had separate taxable income. See IRM 25.15.1.2.4, Forged Signatures, for further information. If the taxpayer contends the tacit consent factors do not apply or is uncertain whether the factors apply, advise the taxpayer that he or she may file a Form 8857 and the forgery issue on line 11 will be addressed during consideration of the Form 8857 claim.

  11. A taxpayer may inquire about an existing installment agreement (IA) and whether he/she should continue to make payments if they file a claim for relief from joint and several liability. Do not recommend any action, but offer the available options.

    1. If the RS does not continue to make payments and the claim is disallowed, full payment may be due immediately.

    2. If the RS continues to make payments and relief is granted under IRC 6015(c), the RS will not receive a refund because refunds are not allowed under IRC 6015(c) .

    3. If the RS continues to make payments and relief is granted under IRC 6015(b) or IRC 6015(f), the RS will be entitled to a refund of installment payments made solely by the RS to the extent of relief granted subject to the limitations of IRC 6511.

  12. If a taxpayer inquires about the status of the claim, research ISTSR. See IRM 25.15.14, Innocent Spouse Tracking System Inventory Validation Instructions, for additional information. Ensure TC 971 action code (AC) 065 and TC 972 AC 065 has been input as required, see IRM 25.15.2.4.2, Innocent Spouse Indicator Transaction Code (TC) 971/972. If missing when required, enter a history item on AMS that a TC 971 or TC 972 was required but not input.

25.15.16.4.2  (03-12-2013)
Identity Theft

  1. Individuals may call the IRS to report that their SSNs or ITIN has been misused to obtain goods or services, to report other complaints of identity (ID) theft, and/or to request protection of their tax account information.

  2. All taxpayers desire and expect courteous service. Taxpayers who have experienced identity theft are already victims, either emotionally or financially. IRS employees need to be aware of that impact and handle the contact with an additional level of sensitivity and understanding.

  3. Victims can suffer far more than the loss of their money or ruin of their credit. Loss of employment and inability to obtain housing are just a few examples of how identity theft can threaten a victim’s basic needs. Taxpayers can find additional information at http://www.irs.gov (key words identity theft).

  4. The IRM 10.5.3, Identity Protection Program, provides servicewide guidance on identity theft issues. It is important to understand the distinction between tax-related and non-tax related identity theft when considering identity theft issues.

  5. If there are identity theft tracking indicators on the account or once you believe you are speaking with a victim or a perpetrator of identity theft, follow IRM 21.1.3.2.4, Additional Taxpayer Authentication.

  6. On all ID theft calls, document the call on AMS to confirm the taxpayer was provided instruction on how to file an identity theft claim.

  7. Time spent working identify theft cases should be reported under OFP code 713–91210 for a paper case and 703–91210 for a phone call.

25.15.16.4.2.1  (03-12-2013)
Tax Related Identity Theft

  1. When a taxpayer disagrees with the understatement/underpayment because they claim their identity was stolen, or you suspect identity theft, review IDRS CC IMFOLE for an identity theft tracking indicator for the tax year(s) the taxpayer is claiming. An identity theft tracking indicator is TC 971 with an action code (AC) 501-506 or 522-524.

    1. If there is not an identity theft tracking indicator on the account, input TC 971 AC 522 PNDCLM. If you suspect identity theft, input TC 971 AC 522 IRSID. Additional guidance on these tracking indicators can be found in IRM 10.5.3.2.6, Initial Allegation or Suspicion of Tax -Related Identity Theft - Identity Theft Indicators.

      Note:

      For input instructions see IRM 10.5.3-12, TC 971 AC 522 Tax-Related Identity Theft, Case Status (Initial Claim/Suspicion and Supporting Documents). Input EXAM as the program, even if it is AUR. This is so the Exam headquarters analyst will be able track it as an innocent spouse issue. Format should be: WI one space EXAM one space and the appropriate Tax Administration Source. In the Remarks area enter IDENTITY THEFT.

    2. In the event you need to reverse the TC 971 AC 522, see IRM 10.5.3-13, TC 972 AC 522 - Reversal of TC 971 AC 522.

    coordinate with the function that proposed the deficiency, i.e., Automated Underreporter (AUR) or Exam. They will determine the appropriate action to take regarding the identity theft. Suspend the innocent spouse determination in ISTS stage 06 until the identity theft issue is resolved. An allegation of identity theft can be made by either taxpayer or be identified by the service. For additional information see:

  2. The following If and Then table will tell you how to work with the taxpayer:

    IF THEN
    A taxpayer disagrees with the understatement/underpayment, because they believe they are a victim of identity theft, but has not reported this to any authorities
    1. Inform the taxpayer to respond to the notice or assessment by providing the following documentation:

      1. Evidence of identity theft - Form 14039, IRS Identity Theft Affidavit or police report

      2. Authentication of identity - a copy of a valid U.S. federal or state government issued form of identification (examples include a driver’s license, state identification card, social security card, or passport)

    2. Instruct the taxpayer to send the documentation to the department that has proposed an assessment or made the assessment on the account.

    3. Assist taxpayer with reporting the identity theft to proper authorities by advising the taxpayer to:

      1. File a report with taxpayer’s local police.

      2. Refer to http://www.irs.gov (key words identity theft) for additional information

      3. Notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Identity Theft Hotline at 1-877-438-4338 or Identity Theft at http://www.consumer.gov/articles/1016-recovering-identity-theft#!what-to-do

    A taxpayer disagrees with the understatement/underpayment, because they believe they are a victim of identity theft, and they have informed FTC, credit bureaus, and police that they are the victim of identity theft Inform the taxpayer to respond to the notice/area that is proposing to assess or has assessed the account, and when responding to provide the following items to show identity theft:
    1. Authentication of identity - a copy of a valid U.S. federal or state government issued form of identification (examples include a driver’s license, state identification card, social security card, or passport)

    2. Evidence of identity theft - IRS Form 14039, Identity Theft Affidavit or police report

  3. See IRM 25.15.7.10.14.5, Identity Theft for information on processing innocent spouse claims with an indication of identity theft.

25.15.16.4.2.2  (03-12-2013)
Non-Tax Related Identity Theft

  1. Victims are encouraged to report instances of known identity theft to appropriate federal agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). The FTC Identity Theft Hotline can be reached at 1-877-438-4338 or http://www.ftc.gov Taxpayers who need information on identity theft that is not tax-related should be referred to this number and/or website; they can also be referred to IRS Pub 4535 Identity Theft Prevention and Victim Assistance.

  2. Individuals experiencing non tax-related impact may call and ask that the IRS take action to protect their account information. Refer these taxpayers to the identity theft toll free number, 1-800-908-4490.

25.15.16.4.3  (03-12-2013)
Victim of Domestic Violence

  1. If the RS indicates that they are a victim of domestic violence, input a TC 971 AC 198 on ENMOD. This will generate a code of "VODV-1" on CC ENMOD. On the ENMOD screen for the RS's account use CC REQ77 and enter:

    1. TC 971 AC 198

    2. Alleged abuser's SSN in the Misc. field

  2. Proceed with extra caution to protect the personal information of the abused spouse. Be aware that the RS may be emotional and hesitate to provide information. Be sensitive to the situation.

  3. Provide referral information to the RS for the National Domestic Violence Hotline unless they indicate they do not want it. If the RS is in immediate danger, refer the RS to 911. If the RS is concerned for their safety, but not in immediate danger, refer the RS to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), 1-800-787-3224 for TTY or (206) 787–3224, which is a video phone for deaf callers only.

25.15.16.5  (03-12-2013)
Hearing Impaired Customers and TDD Equipment

  1. For information refer to IRM 21.2.1.60, Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHOH) Callers and TTY/TDD Equipment.

25.15.16.6  (03-04-2008)
Outgoing Calls

  1. If additional information is needed from the taxpayer when evaluating correspondence received, attempt to reach the taxpayer by phone before sending any additional information request letter.

  2. Document all telephone contact and attempts to contact on AMS and any information received in the workpapers if the case is assigned to you. Be sure to provide your name and identification number at the beginning of the initial call to the taxpayer.

  3. Special caution should be taken when leaving messages to the taxpayer on answering machines and voice mail. IRS employees will not identify themselves as IRS employees unless they reasonably believe the answering machine or voice mail belongs to the taxpayer. See IRM 11.3.2.6.1, Leaving Information on Answering Machines/Voice Mail, for additional information.

25.15.16.7  (03-12-2013)
Contact Recording

  1. "Contact Recording" is a telephone application/tool/system that records incoming "toll free" telephone contacts for the purpose of possible subsequent monitoring.

  2. Incoming calls are answered with an additional announcement that states, "Your call may be monitored or recorded for quality purposes."

  3. The system has been implemented in all Accounts Management and Compliance Services call sites.

  4. Managers and Quality Review use the tool to perform required random reviews (performance and product) of incoming telephone contacts.

  5. While the system provides limited screen capture of account actions, as well as voice recording of the call, the recordings are NOT accessible by TIN, PIN, nor voice processing personal identification number (VPIN).

  6. The system stores data by standard employee identifier (SEID) for a maximum of 45 days.

  7. There is a procedure, within the system, to disable the recording if a caller indicates that he/she does not wish to be recorded. Your computer desktop should have a "Stop Recording" icon for this purpose.

    • If the caller requests NO recording, take action to disable the recording by selecting the Stop Recording icon and executing the "Stop Recording" button.

    • If you must transfer this caller, advise the caller of the transfer and that he/she will need to restate his/her request (that he/she does not wish to be recorded). When the call is transferred into a new site, the employee at the new site takes action to disable the recording.

  8. If the caller also asks to record the conversation, advise the caller that he/she may not record the call. Advise the caller that he/she may request a copy of the call under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Advise the caller that this request must be in writing and contain the date, name and identification number of the employee, and the approximate time of the call. Also, in order for IRS to locate and associate the call with the requester, there must be some identification of the taxpayer (name, address, TIN, etc.) during the call. The FOIA request cannot be processed without this information. See IRM 21.1.3.17.1(5), Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), for FOIA recording request.

25.15.16.8  (03-12-2013)
Emergency Situations

  1. Emergency Situations include the following:

    • Suicide Threats - see IRM 21.1.3.12, Suicide Threats, for additional information.

    • Assault/Threat Incidents - see IRM 21.1.3.10.3, Assault/Threat Incidents/Abusive Practitioners, for additional information.

    • Bomb Threats - see IRM 21.1.3.10.7, Bomb Threats, for additional information.

  2. Document the call -- for all emergency situations - if possible, obtain the following information:

    • Caller’s/taxpayer’s name

    • TIN

    • Time of call

    • Origin of call, if possible

    • Statements made by taxpayer/caller

    • Any other general information to aid the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) investigation

    • Research CC INOLE or CC ENMOD for taxpayer account data, if TIN is obtained from caller. Attach screen prints to any documentation and forward to manager (who will forward to nearest TIGTA office).

  3. When a threat is received – recording the call enables the call to be traced.

    The employee receiving the call will:

    1. Press the Emergency/Record Call button on the telephone (the recording of the call begins).

    2. Without disrupting the call, get the manager’s attention and notify the manager of the emergency situation.

    The employee's manager will:

    1. Monitor the call to assess the gravity of the situation.

    2. Acknowledge to you that he/she is aware of situation, once an emergency situation is confirmed.

    3. Ensure the recorded call is made available to the nearest TIGTA office, along with the written report.

25.15.16.9  (02-22-2011)
Commitment to Quality

  1. All functional areas of the IRS are committed to achieving excellence in the service provided to all taxpayers. Innocent Spouse employees are trained to communicate with taxpayers and to be knowledgeable of innocent spouse tax laws and related IRS operational procedures. Innocent Spouse employees must assist taxpayers, practitioners, and other third parties, in a manner that warrants the highest degree of public confidence.

  2. To ensure quality service for our customers, Innocent Spouse employees are subject to monitoring by Andover Compliance Planning and Analysis Staff (PAS). This monitoring is designed to review all phases of incoming telephone contacts.

  3. The results of these reviews are input to the National Quality Review System (NQRS) database.

  4. Refer to IRM 21.10.1, Embedded Quality (EQ) Program for Accounts Management, Compliance Services, Field Assistance Tax Exempt Government Entities and Electronic Products and Services Support, for more information.

25.15.16.10  (07-03-2009)
Related IRMs

  1. See IRM 21.1.3.2.2(6), Authorized and Unauthorized Disclosures, if you have unintentionally disclosed return or return information to an unauthorized party.

  2. See IRM 21.1.3.2.2(7), Authorized and Unauthorized Disclosures, if you receive a telephone call from a taxpayer who has received IRS mail belonging to another taxpayer.

  3. See IRM 21.1.3.8, Inquiries from IRS Employees, if you receive an inquiry from an IRS Employee.

  4. See IRM 21.3.10.2.4, Oral Disclosure Consent (ODC), for information regarding oral disclosure consent – Taxpayer can give us verbal authority to talk to someone else. Taxpayer does not have to remain on line.

  5. See IRM 21.1.3.3.2, Oral Disclosure Consent/Oral TIA (Paperless F8821), for information regarding Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization.

  6. See IRM 21.1.3.16, Taxpayer Complaints/Compliments About IRS Service, if you receive a taxpayer complaint/compliment about IRS service.


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