4.90.14  Counsel Contact and Technical Guidance

Manual Transmittal

March 20, 2013


(1) This transmits a Table of Contents and text for IRM Part 4, Examining Process, Chapter 90, Federal State and Local Governments, Section 14, Counsel Contact and Technical Guidance.

Material Changes

(1) Included references to the new role of FSLG Technical Advisor.

(2) Added reference to Program Manager Technical Advice.

(3) Added references to Field Operations Manager.

(4) Minor editorial changes as needed.

Effect on Other Documents

This section supersedes IRM 4.90.14, dated May 31, 2006.


This section contains procedures and guidance for all FSLG employees requesting technical guidance from Chief Counsel.

Effective Date


Paul Marmolejo
Director, Federal State and Local Governments  (04-01-2013)

  1. This section provides guidance and instruction on requesting informal and formal guidance from Chief Counsel on technical issues.

  2. In general, FSLG field groups may contact the local Area Counsel office for general questions and technical issues that affect their customers. However, issues initially identified as having a national impact will be referred to Chief Counsel through the FSLG Headquarters office.  (04-01-2013)
Requesting Assistance from Area Counsel

  1. Area Counsel is available to provide oral and written legal guidance on technical and procedural issues and questions arising from FSLG compliance activities.

  2. FSLG Managers and Specialists may contact Area Counsel when technical assistance is needed with a local issue, assistance with the development of a case or interpretation of the law.

  3. Specialists should research and discuss the issue(s) with their manager before requesting formal written advice from Counsel. IRM Exhibit 33.1.2-1, Q5, provides considerations as to when legal advice is appropriate. If it is determined that Area Counsel assistance is required on an open examination, the Group Manager and Field Operations Manager must review and approve all the written requests sent to a local Area Counsel office

  4. When requesting formal written guidance from Area Counsel, the Specialist must first prepare a written memorandum outlining the facts of the case and the specific issues and questions for Area Counsel. The Group Manager will review and approve the written request prepared by the Specialist and forward the request to the Field Operations Manager for final review and approval. If approved, the Field Operations Manager will instruct the Group Manager to forward the request to the local Area Counsel office and provide a copy of the request to the CPM Counsel Liaison.

  5. Generally, Area Counsel will provide a written response within 45 days of receipt of the request. The response time can be extended if the facts require further development or other circumstances prevent the issuance of a response within the 45-day period.

  6. If Area Counsel elevates the directly to National Office Chief Counsel, then the CPM Counsel Liaison will coordinate with Counsel on the status of any pending written guidance related to the elevated issue.

  7. The CPM Counsel Liaison will maintain a quarterly updated list of written requests for guidance with bi-monthly follow-up to insure timeliness.  (04-01-2013)
Reliance on Area Counsel Advice

  1. In general, when Area Counsel issues written advice in the form of an advisory memorandum. It is usually case specific, cannot be cited, and should not be interpreted as a statement of law that can be applied to other cases.

  2. Advisory memoranda from Area Counsel should not be distributed to government entities and/or practitioners. However, the Specialist may share the conclusions of the advisory memo with the specific taxpayer as appropriate. If the Specialist provides these conclusions in writing to the taxpayer, the Specialist should include a disclosure statement indicating the letter is not an official opinion of the Service.  (04-01-2013)
Role of CPM

  1. CPM is the clearinghouse for issues that require a written advisory memorandum from Area Counsel and issues requiring formal and published guidance from Counsel.

  2. Specialists requesting written guidance from Area Counsel will forward a copy of the request to the CPM Counsel Liaison.

  3. CPM catalogs these technical issues and serves as a clearinghouse for all FSLG issues under consideration for written guidance.

  4. The CPM Counsel Liaison will provide field Specialists and managers with a quarterly updated list of pending and resolved issues.

  5. Specialists should provide a copy of written responses received from Area Counsel to CPM for the read files of the FSLG Director and the FSLG Field Operations Manager.

  6. When similar issues are being developed in multiple Area Counsel offices, CPM will coordinate the issues and provide procedural guidance, as necessary. This process will avoid duplication of effort and promote consistency and efficient use of time when resolving FSLG technical issues and questions.  (04-01-2013)
Requesting Advice from Chief Counsel in Headquarters

  1. Chief Counsel provides published written guidance and other legal advice in various forms. This can include any of the following:

    1. Technical Advice Memorandum (TAM)

    2. Technical Expedited Advice Memorandum (TEAM)

    3. Chief Counsel Advice (CCA)

    4. Program Manager Technical Advice (PMTA)

    5. Private Letter Ruling (PLR)

    6. Information letter, which can be issued when there is a need for general information describing rules and laws.

  2. Generally, all published guidance requests will be coordinated through FSLG Headquarters office.

  3. Generally, Specialists should not contact National Office Chief Counsel directly on specific cases, to avoid any breach of Ex Parte rules. Specialists and Managers should coordinate with FSLG Headquarters if contact with National Office Chief Counsel is required on specific cases.

  4. Generally, if the Specialist is conducting an examination and the taxpayer requests a written technical advice, the Specialist should follow current procedures outlined in annual revenue procedure (always the second revenue procedure of each year). The CPM Counsel Liaison will ensure this issue is added to the maintained list. The Specialist and Manager should provide periodic updates to the CPM Counsel Liaison, the FSLG Field Operations Manager, and the FSLG Director.

  5. Generally, Chief Counsel will issue legal advice within 90 days of the request for assistance. However, the response time can be extended if further case development is required or other circumstances exist that prevent a response within the 90-day period.

  6. In other cases where a Private Letter Ruling (PLR) request is necessary, the Specialist should refer the taxpayer to the appropriate annual revenue procedure (always the first revenue procedure for each year) and have the customer follow the appropriate procedures. CPM should also be advised of the request.

  7. Generally, if the FSLG Specialist uncovers a national impact issue during outreach or other compliance activities that warrants Chief Counsel involvement, the CPM Counsel Liaison should be contacted to discuss the issue.

  8. The CPM Counsel Liaison will coordinate all national impact issues with Chief Counsel and the FSLG Technical Advisor.

  9. If informal guidance is appropriate, CPM will follow-up this response with Chief Counsel. If written guidance is necessary, CPM will consult with Chief Counsel to determine the type of written guidance and prepare the necessary guidance request.

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