4.90.2  Customer Assistance

Manual Transmittal

May 9, 2013

Purpose

(1) This transmits a revision to IRM Part 4, Examining Process, Chapter 90, Federal State and Local Governments, Section 2, Customer Assistance.

Material Changes

(1) All references to EOIC/TREES removed and replaced with appropriate references to Reporting Compliance Case Management System (RCCMS).

(2) Removed subsection containing customer assistance qualify measurement standards, as these cases are no longer reviewed.

(3) Removed mailing address to CPM for closed customer assistance files

(4) Removed references to obsolete FTD coupons and related procedures.

(5) Minor editorial corrections made as needed.

Effect on Other Documents

This section supersedes IRM 4.90.2, Customer Assistance, dated May 1, 2008.

Audience

This section is for FSLG Managers and Specialists and discusses customer assistance cases in the Office of Federal, State, and Local Governments (FSLG).

Effective Date

(05-09-2013)

Paul A. Marmolejo
Director, Federal State and Local Governments

4.90.2.1  (05-31-2006)
Overview

  1. This section provides general guidance for FSLG Specialists conducting customer assistance.

4.90.2.2  (05-31-2006)
Customer Assistance

  1. Customer assistance is defined as voluntary one-on-one contact with a customer to resolve a tax issue. The objective of this type of individualized help is to increase voluntary compliance by assisting our customers in understanding, implementing and fulfilling their responsibilities with respect to employment tax and information reporting requirements. The customer assistance may be delivered by phone, correspondence, and/or face-to-face contact and is generally initiated by the customer.

  2. The Specialist should normally respond to a request for customer assistance within 5 business days.

4.90.2.2.1  (05-09-2013)
Customer Assistance Resources

  1. Various resources are available to assist with various questions from customers. Specialists may need to act as a liaison with the customer to put them in touch with the area that can provide the best service.

  2. After the Specialist determines the nature of the customer's question, he or she may take the following actions:

    Nature of problem Possible avenue for resolution
    Question about technical issue involving filing return or paying FICA taxes Research FSLG sources or technical sites and provide response
    Question involving 403(b)/457 employee retirement plan Research FSLG sources; if necessary, contact 403(b)/457 Coordinator in the area
    Question involving notice Tell customer to call number provided on the notice
    Customer responded to a notice but the situation has not been resolved Refer customer to Taxpayer Advocate if criteria outlined in IRM 13.1.7 are met
    Question involving a collection issue
    1. Research IDRS to determine collection status

    2. Consider referring customer to Area Collection Office or local walk-in

    3. Consider referring customer to Taxpayer Advocate if criteria outlined in IRM 13.1.7 is met

    Customer requests letter affirming government status or tax deductibility of contributions Tell customer to contact TE/GE Customer Account Services
    Customer needs to change address Tell customer to contact TE/GE Customer Account Services
    Question involves e-filing issues see www.irs.gov/efile; for Forms W-2 contact SSA at www.ssa.gov/employer/how.htm
    Question involves Electronic Filing Tax Payment System (EFTPS) IRS Publication 966, or call toll-free 1-800-945-8400 or 1-800-555-4477 or eftps.gov

4.90.2.2.1.1  (05-09-2013)
TE/GE Customer Account Services

  1. The TE/GE Customer Account Services provides assistance to customers who:

    • Need an affirmation letter issued

    • Request to speak to a TE/GE agent in another office

    • Need miscellaneous services, such as updating the entity module, ordering forms and publications, etc.

  2. Customer Account Services will issue a government affirmation letter to an organization. This letter describes the criteria for government entity exemption from Federal income tax, and cites applicable Internal Revenue Code sections pertaining to deductible contributions and income exclusion. It is not a ruling. This letter can normally be generated during the course of the telephone contact, and is based primarily on information such as the employment code and name of the entity.

  3. Additional information about government affirmation letters is available on the FSLG web site, www.irs.govt/fslg.

  4. Additional information about the TE/GE call site operations and procedures can be found in IRM 21.3.8.

4.90.2.2.1.2  (05-31-2006)
Notices

  1. If a customer received a notice from the Service, the Specialist should advise the customer that it is necessary to contact the number listed on the notice for resolution.

  2. If the customer is having difficulty resolving the notice situation, then the Specialist should consider whether the situation meets Taxpayer Advocate criteria.

4.90.2.2.1.3  (05-09-2013)
E-filing questions

  1. If the customer's inquiry deals with the technical requirements regarding preparation of Forms W-2 or 1099 on Magnetic Media or e-file, the customer should be directed to the IRS web site (www.irs.gov/efile) for assistance in contacting Martinsburg Computing Center.

  2. IRM 21.1.2.3.3 provides a list of Electronic Tax Administration publications.

4.90.2.2.1.4  (05-09-2013)
Taxpayer Advocate Service

  1. If, during a customer contact, you determine that:

    • There may be a hardship situation as defined in IRM 13.1.7,

    • The customer insists on being referred to the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), or

    • The contact meets TAS criteria (provided in IRM 13.1.7), and

    you cannot resolve the issue the same day, the Specialist should prepare and forward Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance, to the Local Taxpayer Advocate (see IRM 13).

4.90.2.2.1.5  (05-09-2013)
TE/GE Counsel Advice

  1. An FSLG Specialist may answer questions by citing Code sections, Regulations, published guidance (i.e. revenue rulings, revenue procedures, etc.) and providing publications. TE/GE Counsel may be able to provide some direction to answering a technical question. However, FSLG does not have jurisdiction or authority to issue rulings. FSLG Specialist will not issue opinions.

  2. If an FSLG Specialist is asked a question that cannot be answered by providing a publication or the citing one of the sources listed above, then the Specialist may suggest to the taxpayer making a letter ruling request or seeking professional legal advice.

4.90.2.2.2  (05-31-2006)
Case File Establishment

  1. A significant amount of FSLG work consists of one-on-one contacts with customers to resolve complex tax reporting or payment issues. As with an examination case file, Specialists will need to establish customer assistance case files in certain situations to document the work that was performed for the customer.

  2. Complete case documentation of assistance provided will provide a historical record of issues resolved. Frequently, sensitive or material issues are resolved through customer assistance, and information in the case file may be needed to address any questions raised by the office of Compliance and Program Management (CPM) or by third parties.

  3. Documentation of assistance provided will also aid in the establishment of a historical record of issues addressed and identification of significant trends, issues and problems.

  4. If there is a collection issue on a customer assistance case, the Specialist may consider contacting the local Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) Compliance Group and seek the assistance of a Revenue Officer.

4.90.2.2.3  (05-09-2013)
Case File Criteria

  1. All Customer Assistance case files are input to the Reporting Compliance Case Management System (RCCMS) and they may involve any of the following:

    1. In-depth research and/or third party contacts

    2. Assistance/Guidance from TE/GE Counsel

    3. Issuance of written guidance other than published reference material (e.g. Publications, Revenue Rulings, or court cases, etc.)

    4. Managerial or FSLG Director involvement

    5. Significant impact on a market segment

    6. Requests for adjustments to an account (Form 3870, Request for Adjustment)

    7. Request for significant changes to entity information (e.g. Form 2363, Master File Entity Change, to add or delete filing requirements)

  2. A case file should not be created for contacts of a routine nature (i.e., phone calls, problems or questions resolved with minimal contact).

  3. The following table gives examples of situations when a case file is or is not warranted:

    Information Action
    A Specialist receives a phone call from a local FSLG customer regarding a deposit penalty. After reviewing the issue with the customer and securing additional documentation, the Specialist recommends a penalty abatement and prepares an adjustment using Form 3870, Request for Adjustment. A case file should be established. A complete Form 3870 and the required workpapers are included.
    A Specialist receives a phone call from a city regarding a non-filer notice. The specialist determines that the organization is filing its Form 941 through a common paymaster. The Specialist receives a letter signed by the mayor that provides a written statement that the organization is not required to file a Form 941. The specialist completes a Form 2363 to delete the Form 941 filing requirement. A case file should be established. Form 2363 and the required workpapers are included.
    A Specialist receives multiple questions from a government entity. The Specialist meets with several employees of the government entity and provides multiple publications. A case file is not necessary.

4.90.2.2.4  (05-09-2013)
Customer Assistance Inventory Control Process

  1. Customer Assistance case inventory will be controlled on RCCMS. On RCCMS, the Specialist will request establishment using source code 73, type (Taxpayer Assistance Post Filing), and activity code 108 for the period(s) addressed.

  2. On WebETS, the Specialist will enter each customer assistance case name separately. Time is charged to Activity Code 108, project code 0999 - Taxpayer Assistance Post Filing, per Document 11308 - GE Computer Systems Code Booklet.

4.90.2.2.5  (05-09-2013)
Case File Documentation

  1. The minimum documentation (workpapers) that should be included in the case file is as follows:

    1. Form 3198-A, TE/GE Special Handling Notice, placed on the front of the case folder and notated as a closed customer assistance case

    2. Loose on top (inside folder), any forms that need to be processed such as: Form 3870, Request for Adjustment; Form 5666, TE/GE Referral/Information Report to recommend future follow-up action; Form 2363, Master File Entity Change, etc.

    3. Form 4318–A, Continuation of Examination Workpapers, or Form 5773, TE/GE Workpaper Continuation Sheet, (used as the Workpaper Lead Sheet) including a description of issue(s) addressed and resolved; procedures, conclusions and actions taken; and future follow-up action required

    4. Form 9984, Examining Officer’s Activity Record, or Form 5464, Case Chronology Record, including the name and group number of the Specialist, and customer contact information

    5. File copies of written guidance provided or guidance received from TE/GE Counsel

    6. Research information

    7. Additional information and documentation that supports actions taken

4.90.2.2.6  (05-09-2013)
Case File Closing Procedures

  1. The Specialist will close the case file to the Field Manager after the issue has been resolved. The Field Manager (or MA) will close the case on RCCMS using Disposal Code 801 and transmit the file to CPM using a Form 3210 .

4.90.2.2.7  (05-09-2013)
Changing Case Type

  1. A customer assistance case cannot be converted into a compliance check or an examination. If the Specialist believes that a compliance check or examination is needed to improve compliance, or recommends follow-up action, then the Specialist should refer the case to CPM by preparing Form 5666 indicating that additional compliance action is warranted. The Specialist should attach any supporting documentation that provides additional details about potential non-compliance. Form 5666 should be included in the closed customer assistance case file. See IRM 4.90.2.2.5.

4.90.2.2.8  (05-09-2013)
Processing Form 3870

  1. If resolving the customer's situation involves making an adjustment to an account, the Specialist should prepare a Form 3870, Request for Adjustment, attach supporting documentation, and place it in the closed customer assistance case file.

4.90.2.2.8.1  (05-09-2013)
Preparation of Form 3870

  1. The Specialist should:

    1. Complete items 1-14 (12 only if necessary)

    2. Complete the explanation portion to explain the reason for adjustment

    3. Attach supporting documentation

    4. Place form in the closed customer assistance case file

    5. Highlight for Field Manager's signature

      Note:

      If the reason for preparation of Form 3870 is the abatement of civil information returns penalties asserted under MFT 13, then Form 8278 should be included. See also IRM 4.23.9.2. Instructions for completion of Form 8278 are included on the back of the form.

4.90.2.2.8.2  (05-09-2013)
Expedite Form 3870 processing

  1. There may be circumstances when expedited processing of Form 3870 is required. In these situations, the Specialist should:

    1. Complete Form 3870 following the steps listed in IRM 4.90.2.2.8.1.

    2. Make a copy of Form 3870 and place in the case file. Write "Copy" in red on the top margin to avoid duplicate processing.

    3. Expedite Form 3870 requests should be sent via fax or e-mail to the CPM AIMS coordinator for immediate attention.

    4. Determine whether suspension of notice issuance is necessary. If so, a request should be submitted with Field Manager approval to CPM. CPM will input STAUP on tax module.

    5. Document action taken within case history.

    6. Hold customer assistance case file in open status and periodically review tax module for adjustments.

    7. Close customer assistance case file following normal closing procedures when the Form 3870 adjustments are present on the tax module.

4.90.2.2.8.3  (05-09-2013)
Follow-up

  1. The processing of Forms 3870 should be completed within 30 days from the date the case is closed from the group. If the adjustment has not been completed within that time frame, the Specialist should contact CPM-Review to follow-up. CPM-Review will coordinate with the CPM AIMS-Coordinator to determine the reasons for the delay in processing, and what steps are necessary to continue processing.

4.90.2.2.9  (05-31-2006)
Delinquent Returns

  1. If delinquent returns are secured during a customer assistance contact, then the returns should be sent directly to the appropriate location for processing. See IRM 4.90.12.11 for the appropriate addresses. The Specialist may assist the customer by explaining reasonable cause criteria and assisting with the preparation of an explanation for filing return late. If a copy is placed in the case file, the fact that the return is a copy should be clearly indicated on the upper portion of the return to prevent a duplicate filing.

4.90.2.2.10  (05-31-2006)
Closing Agreements

  1. Formal closing agreements may be requested based upon a customer assistance contact. The Specialist should follow procedures outlined in IRM sections 4.90.9 and 8.13.1.


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