5.1.10  Taxpayer Contacts

Manual Transmittal

October 25, 2013

Purpose

(1) This transmits an editorial update of IRM 5.1.10, Taxpayer Contacts.

Material Changes

(1) IRM 5.1.10.3 (8) removed because it duplicates material in 5.1.10.3 (4), and subsequent paragraphs are renumbered accordingly.

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 5.1.10 dated June 17, 2013 is superseded.

Audience

SB/SE Revenue Officers

Effective Date

(10-25-2013)


Scott Reisher
Director, Collection Policy
Small Business/Self-Employed Division

5.1.10.1  (06-07-2013)
Overview

  1. This IRM provides guidance to Collection employees related to all aspects of taxpayer contact, including actions required prior to, during and following such contact. It defines and establishes initial contact criteria and includes relevant references to fair tax collection practices and taxpayer rights.

5.1.10.2  (06-07-2013)
Pre-Contact

  1. Upon receipt of a new case, conduct an initial analysis by

    • Reviewing IDRS and the Integrated Collection System (ICS), as appropriate.

    • Reviewing case history including Account Management Services (AMS) account information, noting actions already taken on cases worked in the Automated Collection System (ACS) call sites .

    • Creating ICS modules for balance due periods in notice status and inputting a STAUP via IDRS, as appropriate. Only create ICS modules for delinquent returns if you know a return should be filed. This filing requirement may not be apparent until after initial contact.

    • Determining if the taxpayer has an authorized representative. IRM 5.1.10.7.2, Right to Representation.

    • Determining if a TC 914 (Active Criminal Investigation) is present on any module. In some active cases, Criminal Investigation (CI) may request that no contact be made with the taxpayer or the taxpayer’s representative. Also, a closed CI case (TC 912) or an open probation case indicator (non-field other investigation 182) may have an associated criminal restitution-based assessment requiring special handling. (See IRM 5.1.5. Balancing Civil and Criminal Cases, for procedures on handling cases with CI investigations and restitution-based assessments.)

    • Determining if the case requires special handling. See IRM 5.1.12, Cases Requiring Special Handling.

    • Deciding what issues to address during initial contact with the taxpayer.

    • Scheduling field contact within contact time frames. See IRM 5.1.10.3.1, Initial Contact Time Frames.

  2. Be alert for the potentially dangerous taxpayer (PDT) or caution upon contact (CAU) codes ( IRM 5.1.3.3.2).

  3. Verify that the taxpayer has been advised of potential third party contacts. Advance notification of potential third party contact is included in Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer. Mail or hand deliver the appropriate Letter 3164 if you cannot verify that the taxpayer has received Publication 1 (rev. 5/2005) or Notice 1219 A or B. Letter 3164 does not need to be provided to a taxpayer for third party contacts of which advance notice has otherwise been provided.

    Note:

    See IRM 5.1.17, Third Party Contacts, for IRC§ 7602 (c) procedures to follow when contacting anyone other than the taxpayer regarding the determination or collection of the taxpayer's tax liability.

  4. For a single member limited liability company (LLC) with employment tax liabilities that accrued prior to January 1, 2009, attempt to determine whether the LLC or its owner is the liable taxpayer. (See IRM 5.1.21.6.2 , Employer Identification Number Requirements for an LLC, and IRM 5.1.21.6.3, EIN Requirements for the Owner of a Disregarded Entity, for guidance on how to make this determination.) Update LLC addresses on ICS as appropriate.

  5. If you identify officers or potentially responsible persons during initial analysis of corporate trust fund accounts, be alert for prior unpaid TFRP or other employment tax delinquencies.

  6. If the liability includes unpaid corporate trust fund taxes, calculate the trust fund portion of the liability. The Automated Trust Fund Recovery (ATFR) program may be used for this purpose. Print calculation page 4 for presentation during initial contact.

  7. The unique factors of each case will determine the amount of research needed prior to initial contact and the depth of the financial investigation required for locating and verifying asset information. Refer to IRM 5.1.30, Resolution-directed Approach to Case Work, and IRM 5.1.31, Workload Management, for guidance in effectively planning and carrying out case actions. Refer to IRM 5.1.11, Delinquent Return Accounts, for detailed pre-contact and contact guidelines for delinquent return investigations.

5.1.10.3  (06-07-2013)
Initial Contact

  1. Make prompt contact on all taxpayer cases.

  2. Make actual contact with the taxpayer or taxpayer’s representative or document the actions taken to verify the taxpayer’s current address if field contact is attempted but contact not made, both within the initial contact time period. (See IRM 5.1.10.3.1.)

  3. Determine how best to ensure an effective initial contact on each case consistent with guidelines contained in IRM 5.1.10.3.2. In most cases, you should try to make initial contact with taxpayers in the field.

    Note:

    Per IGM SBSE 05-0612-056, dated June 27, 2012, Tax Examiners (TEs) are not required to make field contacts.

  4. You may attempt scheduling a field visit with a taxpayer or representative by sending an appointment letter, such as Letter 725. A completed Form 9297 should also be included, letting the taxpayer or representative know which items will be needed at the time of the appointment.

    Caution:

    Except where extenuating circumstances exist, such as when an assigned inventory covers a large geographical area or in certain ATAT cases (See IRM 5.20.12.(1) ), issuing an appointment letter does not represent taking a timely initial contact action unless it results in actual contact with the taxpayer or the representative within initial contact time frames as provided in IRM 5.1.10.3.1. In situations where you determine the use of an appointment letter is the appropriate method for initiating contact with the taxpayer, document the case history outlining the circumstances for your determination. If you make contact as a result of an appointment letter, follow effective initial contact procedures contained in IRM 5.1.10.3.2. As with any initial contact, consider that this may be your only contact with the TP or POA.

    Note:

    If your taxpayers reside in a foreign country or in one of the U.S. Possessions or Territories, you may have limited ability to make telephone or field contact. Therefore, in such cases make initial contact via registered mail whenever U.S. Postal regulations permit such use. (See Note in IRM 5.1.9.3.1(3)(e) for details concerning situations where U.S. Postal Service is not available.

  5. If the initial contact with a taxpayer is not in the field and such field contact is required (see the table below), the reason why it is not must be documented in the case history. The following table contains the criteria for valid initial contact:

    If Then the following will be considered a valid initial contact
    Taxpayer has no representative on record Field visit to taxpayer’s address of record, regardless of whether actual contact is made.
    Taxpayer has a representative
    1. Telephone contact with representative.

    2. Field visit to representative’s address of record, regardless of whether actual contact is made.

    Telephone message left for representative to call back A second telephone call within initial contact time frame. (See IRM 5.1.10.3.1.)
    Representative’s telephone number of record out of service, incorrect or does not pick up Field visit to taxpayer address of record, regardless of whether actual contact is made.
    Other Taxpayer or representative contacts the revenue officer prior to initial contact attempt.

    The above actions will be considered reasonable efforts to contact the taxpayer directly. If actual contact is not made through these efforts, take locator, enforcement and/or other actions as appropriate to resolve the case.

  6. All contacts and contact attempts should be documented in the ICS history, including efforts to verify taxpayer's address.

  7. If the taxpayer has a representative with a valid power of attorney, then contact will be made with the representative. When contacting the POA, follow guidelines for effective initial contact ( IRM 5.1.10.3.2). For BMF taxpayers, if initial contact is not at the taxpayer's place of business, a field visit to the taxpayer's place of business must still take place, when practical. Visiting the taxpayer's business, assessing the operation, and viewing the assets will contribute to an informed collectibility determination. For IMF taxpayers with a representative, the initial contact does not have to be at the individual's residence; however, a field call to view the property or other assets may be necessary at a later date. (Refer to IRM 5.1.30.2(2), Resolution-directed Approach to Casework, for guidance on how to prepare for and conduct an initial contact.)

    Reminder:

    During initial contact with a taxpayer, provide your title, last name, and employee identification number. Do not refer to your employee identification number as a "badge number" .

  8. Form 2246, Field Contact Card, is used to advise taxpayers or third parties on how to contact the assigned revenue officer regarding an official IRS matter. It can be left at the taxpayers' business establishment, residence, or with other persons if the taxpayers are not in when called upon. To avoid unauthorized disclosure, confidential tax information must not be written on Form 2246. As a general rule, the time frame for taxpayers to respond should be two business days. You may use other reasonable time frames as warranted by the circumstances of the case. The time frame you provide will serve to establish a deadline for follow-up action should the taxpayer fail to respond.

  9. If the taxpayer is unable or unwilling to provide all the necessary information upon initial contact, attempt to secure as much preliminary information as possible, e.g. verify receipt of Publication 1, returns due, number of employees, payroll, asset and income information, levy sources, etc. Document the case history accordingly. If the taxpayer is unable to provide the information, an appointment will be scheduled to meet in person, preferably at the taxpayer's residence or business, and complete the interview. If the taxpayer is unwilling to meet in person, warn the taxpayer of enforcement action that may take place for failure to comply with the requests for information and proceed with appropriate enforcement and/or administrative actions if the taxpayer is still unwilling to comply.

5.1.10.3.1  (10-28-2011)
Initial Contact Time Frames

  1. Make initial taxpayer contact (See the table in IRM 5.1.10.3 for what constitutes a valid initial contact.) within 45 calendar days from the date of case receipt, except for the following types of cases:

    1. On FTD Alerts, within 15 calendar days from date of receipt

    2. On CIP Leads, within 60 calendar days from date of receipt.

    Note:

    The date of case receipt is the "Employee Assign Date" on ICS. ICS begins the calculation for initial contact due date on the first workday after assignment. If the assignment is on a Saturday (IDRS initial case assignments), the calculation begins on Monday, or Tuesday if Monday is a Holiday. It ends the calculation on a workday. If the initial contact due date falls on a non-workday, ICS sets the initial contact due date to the next workday. This is the date that will appear in the systemic history reflecting the initial contact due date (ICDD). Notifications of when the ICDD expires are issued two weeks before the date expires and also on the day of expiration if no action is taken.

  2. These suggested time frames were established as guidance for revenue officers throughout the Service. Document the case history with the reason for any delay.

    Note:

    The initial contact time frames in (1) above are the maximum time frames for field contact. However, try to make initial contact as soon as possible after case receipt, ideally within the first week of assignment.

  3. Refer to Targeted Inventory Levels, IRM 5.1.20.2.4.2, for instances in which time frames for timely initial and follow-up contacts may be waived.

  4. To ensure that ICS registers the contact, choose one of the following items from the ICS Taxpayer Contact pick list (See IRM 5.1.10.8 regarding mandatory use of the ICS pick list.) to document the contact :

    • Attempted Contact (Contact Type F, if field contact was attempted).

    • TP or POA Contact, if actual contact was made.

    Note:

    When working an Offer in Compromise, see IRM 5.8.4.7, Initial Offer Actions.

5.1.10.3.2  (10-28-2011)
Effective Initial Contact

  1. An effective initial contact is the cornerstone to timely and effective case resolution.

  2. While actual contact with the taxpayers or representatives is the objective of the initial contact attempt, information gathered from neighbors and other third parties can also result in an effective contact. See IRM 5.1.18, Locating Taxpayers and Their Assets for further guidance.

  3. As part of the initial contact do the following:

    • Determine whether the taxpayer received Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer.

    • Explain the collection process to the taxpayer and the taxpayer's rights under that process.

    If Then
    The taxpayer did not receive Publication 1 The revenue officer will provide the taxpayer with a copy and allow the taxpayer time to review it
    The taxpayer has any questions about the provisions covered in Publication 1 The revenue officer will take the time to answer the questions
    During the initial contact, or during subsequent contacts, the taxpayer requests to have the case reviewed by a supervisor The revenue officer will give the taxpayer the name, telephone number and address of his/her supervisor

  4. On initial contact, document that you asked taxpayers if they received Publication 1 and if they had any questions. Checking the appropriate items on the ICS History pick list will satisfy the documentation requirements for Publication 1. This documentation is necessary only once in a continuing case investigation.

    Note:

    Investigation of an Offer in Compromise is not considered a continuation of the Bal Due investigation

  5. During initial contact with a taxpayer,

    1. Request immediate full/part payment of all delinquent accounts (including accounts in notice status) and explain the various forms of payment such as check, money order, electronic payment, credit card, and Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) for future Federal Tax Deposits as well as balance due payments.

    2. Request immediate filing of all delinquent returns.

    3. Secure verification of filing and payment, including copies of the EFTPS acknowledgement numbers or FTD receipts (prior to January 1, 2011) to confirm taxpayer is current with FTD's, when the taxpayer indicates that the tax was paid, the returns were filed, or both.

    4. If the liability is incorrect, allow the taxpayer the opportunity to file an amended or corrected return, or determine whether an adjustment or payment tracer is necessary.

    5. Determine and document the taxpayer's compliance with current filing, payment, and deposit requirements, including type of depositor. The ICS Full Compliance Check screen can be used to document compliance. See IRM 5.1.10.8 for instances when use of the pick list is mandatory.

    6. Determine the reason for the delinquency and advise the taxpayer how to avoid future delinquencies. The ICS pick list Cause and Cure can be used to document this information.

      Reminder:

      Advise taxpayers that they remain responsible for the deposit and payment of employment taxes even though they may have entered into a third-party payer arrangement with a payroll service provider or professional employer organization.

    7. Request that the taxpayer file current returns and make estimated tax payments through you and provide you with copies of Federal Tax Deposit receipts or with EFTPS acknowledgment numbers. Advise the taxpayer that doing so will allow you to monitor their compliance with current filing, paying, and deposit requirements until the case is resolved.

      Note:

      Consider securing payroll summary sheets from the taxpayer to verify the correct amount is being deposited.

    8. Determine whether the taxpayer is a federal contractor. If the taxpayer is a federal contractor, obtain the name of the federal contracting agency and the contract number.

    Exception:

    If you detect fraud indicators, see IRM 5.1.11.6.2 , Referral to Criminal Investigation, for how to proceed.

  6. If the taxpayer is unable to comply with the above, proceed as follows:

    If Then
    Tax is due Request the maximum amount payable that day to avoid additional penalty and interest.
    Returns are due or the taxpayer is unable to provide proof of filing Attempt to secure sufficient information so that an accurate return can be prepared if the taxpayer fails to file by the specified date. Such information might include the following:
    • income amounts
    • income sources
    • filing status
    • gross wages paid
    • withholding amounts
    • bank accounts
    • merchant accounts (If the taxpayer accepts card payments, see IRM 5.11.6.15.2, Determining the location of the Merchant Account.)
    • contract identifying the third-party payer arrangement, such as use of a payroll service provider or employee leasing (professional employer organization)
    Tax is due and the taxpayer is unable to pay in full or provide proof of full payment If the taxpayer does not qualify for a guaranteed, streamlined, or in-business trust fund express installment agreement, or such an agreement cannot be established on initial contact. (See IRM 5.14, Installment Agreements.), attempt to secure a complete Collection Information Statement (CIS) and discuss other collection alternatives. If a complete CIS cannot be secured, establish a deadline for providing required information. At a minimum, secure basic asset information, e.g., bank accounts, credit card processor and the location of the merchant account, primary accounts receivable, employer and wage information, real and personal property owned. See IRM 5.12.2, Federal Tax Liens, regarding lien notice determinations to ensure coordination with any response dates and deadlines.
    Other action is required (i.e., payment tracer, adjustment) Secure sufficient information to take the necessary action.
       

  7. If the case is not resolved during the initial contact, discuss a realistic plan for case resolution with the taxpayer, establish and document a plan for resolving the case, e.g., full pay (FP) by a specified date, installment agreement (IA), etc. This plan may be updated when it changes. For example, a plan to resolve a case as CNC (hardship) may change to FP when significant assets and/or income are discovered.

  8. Routinely keep taxpayers informed of the status and resolution of their cases, and advise them that they will receive annual notices of taxes still owing until all taxes are paid in full, even if they are currently working with a Service employee.

  9. When the taxpayer is required to take action such as file returns, provide information, pay the balance, explain and document the following:

    1. What action is expected and the deadline for completing the action. Form 9297, Summary of Taxpayer Contact, will be used in face-to-face meetings to list the information/documents required and the deadline date for receipt. The taxpayer will receive the original and you will retain a copy in the case file. The case history will be documented with a brief summary statement referencing the Form 9297. The ICS pick list item "Form 9297 Provided" can be used to document this information. ( IRM 5.1.10.8 for instances when use of the pick list is mandatory.) There may be some instances when the Form 9297 will not be used, for example, in potential fraud cases. If the Form 9297 is not used, briefly state why Form 9297 was not used in the history. The Form 9297 will be used for any subsequent deadlines set in face-to-face meetings. (Form 9297 is not mandatory during telephone contacts.)

    2. What specific type of enforcement action may result for failure to comply (not necessarily the particular asset, bank account, etc.) Document the ICS history with the specific consequences for failure to comply. The ICS pick list item Deadline Communicated can be used to document this information. (See IRM 5.1.10.8 for instances when use of the pick list is mandatory.)

    3. What forms of payment, such as check, money order, electronic payment, credit card, EFTPS for future Federal Tax Deposits, etc., are available and acceptable.

    Note:

    Do not use "Warned of Enforcement Action" or "WOEA" or any similar abbreviation when documenting the case history unless you include the specific type of enforcement action(s) you advised the taxpayer or representative you would take if the taxpayer did not comply.

  10. When appropriate, issue Letter 1058, Notice of Intent to Levy and Notice of Your Right to a Hearing, and all required enclosures. Typically, the letter is delivered when a deadline is set for the taxpayer to take a specific action. (See IRM 5.11.1.1 through IRM 5.11.1.2.2.11 for other factors related to delivering L-1058.) Use discretion when issuing the L-1058 on initial contact with an IMF-only balance due taxpayer.

  11. Take the following additional actions when contacting a corporation for unpaid trust fund taxes:

    1. Identify individuals who are potentially responsible for depositing and paying over trust fund taxes.

    2. Explain the Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (TFRP) provisions to the responsible or potentially responsible person(s) and present a copy of the TFRP calculation to them along with Notice 784, Could You Be Personally Liable for Certain Unpaid Federal Taxes? (See IRM 5.1.10.2 (6)) Advise them that the IRS can assess the TFRP personally against those it determines liable for the penalty in that amount and collect it against their personal income and assets.

      Note:

      At this point, do not state that the Service has decided who is liable for the TFRP, only that whoever is liable is subject to it.

    3. Begin the TFRP investigation if full payment is not secured. Attempt to conduct interviews with all potentially responsible persons using Form 4180, Report of Interview with Individual Relative to Trust Fund Recovery Penalty or Personal Liability for Excise Tax. See IRM 5.7.4, Investigation and Recommendation of TFRP .

      Note:

      The decision to conduct an IMF compliance check when investigating a corporate liability should be made on a case by case basis. Do not routinely conduct cross compliance checks of employees who may be handling the tax matters of a corporation solely on the basis of the individual's employment with the business.

  12. Take the following additional actions when contacting a sole proprietor or partnership:

    1. Verify compliance with IMF filing and paying requirements.

    2. Explain that sole proprietors and general partners are personally liable for employment and excise taxes incurred in the operations of the business.

    3. Attempt to secure the personal asset information of the proprietor or partner(s). If a complete CIS cannot be secured, establish a deadline for providing required information. At a minimum, secure basic asset information.

    4. In the event TFRP provisions are applicable, follow procedures for corporations described in (7) above.

  13. Take the following additional actions when contacting a limited liability company (LLC). (See IRM 5.1.21, Collecting from Limited Liability Companies, for a comprehensive discussion of the treatment of LLCs with respect to Collection.)

    1. Verify the owner(s) of the LLC during the period(s) of delinquency.

    2. Determine the classification of the LLC to identify whether the entity or its owner(s) are liable for the type of federal tax to be collected. See IRM 5.1.21.7, Federal Taxation of the LLC, for more details concerning treatment of different entities, for example, sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations and associations.

    3. When the LLC is disregarded and not treated as an entity separate from its single member/owner, refer to IRM 5.1.21.6.3,Employer Identification Number Requirements for the Owner of a Disregarded Entity.

      • Explain that the owner is directly liable for the taxes arising from the operation of the LLC.

      • Verify compliance with the owner's filing and paying requirements.

      • Attempt to secure asset information of the owner. If a complete CIS cannot be secured, establish a deadline for providing required information. At a minimum, secure basic asset information.

      • In the event TFRP provisions are applicable for a non-owner, follow procedures for corporations described in (7) above.

    4. When the LLC is identified as the liable taxpayer, follow procedures for corporations described in (7) above. (Also refer to IRM 5.1.21.6.2 , Employer Identification Number Requirements for an LLC. )

5.1.10.4  (04-20-2010)
Responding to Taxpayers

  1. You are required to respond promptly to customer requests or concerns. Return calls as soon as practicable after receiving a voice message. Check messages at least daily (more than once when able) to ensure taxpayers receive a timely response.

  2. When out of the office for extended periods of time, leave a message on the telephone (and email for Service personnel only) to direct the caller to an alternate person for assistance.

  3. When leaving a calling card or phone message for a taxpayer to return a call, provide a specific date and time for the call to be returned.

5.1.10.5  (04-20-2010)
Contact Letters

  1. Some of the pre-printed letters available to correspond with taxpayers include the following:

    Letter Purpose of Letter
    Letter 725 (DO) To set up an appointment with a taxpayer.
    Letter 729 To address unfiled returns.
    Letter 728 To provide the current balance due.
    Letter 3220 To provide the balance due after receipt of payment.
    Letter 3221 To respond to an inquiry regarding the balance due.
    Letter 3586 (CG) To schedule an appointment to conduct a Trust Fund Recovery Penalty interview.
    Letter 4222 To notify taxpayer of case resolution.
    Letter 4223 To notify taxpayer of case closed as currently uncollectible.

  2. Any letter required by statute (Letters 1058, 2975, 3164, 3172, 2439(P), etc.) relating to a joint return under IRC 6013 must be sent separately to each individual who filed the joint return.

  3. This requirement also extends to letters not required by statute that contain the elements of a notice and demand (amount of tax due stated and payment of tax due demanded) such as Letters 728, 3220, and 3221.

  4. When the owner of a limited liability company (LLC) is the liable taxpayer, Letters 1058, 2975, 3172, and 2439(P) must be issued to the owner, not to the LLC. For example, see IRM 5.1.21.9.1, Collection Due Process Notice.

    Reminder:

    All correspondence to taxpayers must include your title, last name, employee identification number, and telephone number.

    Reminder:

    If the taxpayer is represented by a POA, with a valid POA on file, copies of all correspondence must be sent to the POA.

    Reminder:

    An appointment letter to initiate contact with a taxpayer will be used only under extenuating circumstances.

5.1.10.6  (10-28-2011)
Fair Tax Collection Practices

  1. IRC 6304 imposes certain restrictions with respect to IRS communications with taxpayers regarding unpaid tax. This provision specifically prohibits the IRS from harassing or abusing taxpayers.

  2. This law applies to communications with all taxpayers, including business entities.

  3. Violations of IRC 6304 could subject the United States to civil action (IRC 7433) by the taxpayer. Violations of IRC 6304 could also subject Service employees to termination for misconduct.

5.1.10.6.1  (03-20-2009)
Contacting Taxpayers

  1. Some contacts cannot be made without the prior consent of the taxpayer or the permission of a court of competent jurisdiction. These include the following:

    1. Contacting the taxpayer at any unusual time or place, or at a time or place an employee knows, or should know, is inconvenient to the taxpayer.

    2. Contacting the taxpayer at work if there is reason to believe the employer does not allow such contact.

    3. Directly contacting a taxpayer if the Service knows the taxpayer has an authorized representative and knows or can readily ascertain the representative's name and address.

    Exception:

    The representative consents to the employee directly contacting the taxpayer.
    The representative does not respond in a reasonable time. (See IRM 5.1.23.5, Bypassing Taxpayer's Representative.)

  2. Employees can generally assume that it is convenient to contact the taxpayer after 8:00 a.m. and before 9:00 p.m. local time Monday through Friday at the taxpayer's location, unless there is reason to know otherwise.

  3. Take any necessary precautions to protect your safety and security when in the field. (See IRM 5.1.3, Safety, Security, and Control.)

5.1.10.6.2  (06-07-2013)
No Trespassing Signs

  1. The following guidance for entering areas with posted “No Trespassing” signs addresses what is legally permissible in terms of federal, state and local laws. However, Collection field work by its very nature demands the exercise of common sense and good judgment. Beyond what is legally permitted, your safety and the safety of taxpayers must be the highest priority in deciding how to approach the following situations. If the circumstances you encounter make you significantly concerned for your safety, leave and request the assistance of a TIGTA agent to accompany you on a second attempt to contact the taxpayer. ( See IRM 5.1.3.5.1.) Document your history accordingly.

    Note:

    A “No Trespassing” sign includes any sign that advises or commands others not to enter a property, and may use several different expressions, for example, “Keep out,” “Do Not Enter,” “Private Property,” etc.

5.1.10.6.2.1  (06-07-2013)
Private Residences

  1. You can approach a front door to make contact or deliver a summons or other document requiring personal service even if there is a “No Trespassing” sign posted. If the taxpayer or third party then tells you to leave, you should leave.

  2. Always use caution and only enter areas of a private residence that are commonly understood to be open to the public, such as the area of the front door, porch, or a driveway. Secure permission from the taxpayer if you wish to access non-public areas of the premises.

  3. Approach premises with “No Trespassing” signs in rural areas more cautiously than in urban or suburban residences with posted “No Trespassing” signs. If you see “No Trespassing” signs in rural -- possibly fenced -- residential premises, you may wish to leave and request the assistance of a TIGTA agent to accompany them on a second attempt to contact the taxpayer. ( See IRM 5.1.3.5.1.) Document your history accordingly.

5.1.10.6.2.2  (06-07-2013)
Businesses

  1. If you encounter a “No Trespassing” sign in a public shopping area, you can treat the sign as a warning to someone who has no legitimate business being there, such as a loiterer or a shoplifter. If the taxpayer tells you to leave, you should leave.

5.1.10.6.3  (06-07-2013)
Gated and Restricted Access Properties

  1. For gated multi-residence properties with security personnel on site, request access to the taxpayer’s residence from the security guard. If the security guard denies access, ask to speak to the guard’s supervisor and request access through the supervisor. If unable to speak to the guard’s supervisor or if the supervisor also denies access, secure the telephone number of the management office or officer of the multi-residence property, for example a condominium association officer, and request access through this source.

  2. For gated multi-residence properties without security personnel on site, attempt to locate information about the management of the multi-residence property, for example, a condominium association officer, and request access through this source.

    Note:

    Do not attempt to trail another car or another person authorized to enter.

  3. For gated single dwellings with or without security personnel, summonses and other letters and documents may be delivered to the security guard on site or taped to the entry gate, door or fence.

  4. Exhibit 5.1.10-1 provides sample language that my be used in a letter provided to security personnel in the event that they want a documented explanation of the Service’s purpose in wishing to contact the taxpayer.

5.1.10.6.4  (06-07-2013)
Promoting Public Confidence

  1. It is IRS policy not to use methods which are threatening or harassing to the public. See Policy Statement P–1–1, (IRM 1.2.10.1.1(4) ). IRC 6304 prohibits employees from harassing, oppressing, or abusing any person in connection with the collection of any unpaid tax.

  2. The following actions are considered violations:

    1. Using or threatening to use violence or other criminal means to harm the physical person, reputation, or property of any person.

    2. Using obscene, profane, or abusive language.

    3. Causing a telephone to ring or engaging any person in telephone conversation repeatedly or continuously with the intent to annoy, abuse, or harass any person at the called number.

    4. Placing telephone calls without meaningful disclosure to the taxpayer of the caller's identity.

  3. If you place telephone calls to third parties only to acquire location information (taxpayer's place of abode and phone number at such place, or place of employment) in connection with the collection of unpaid tax, you should identify yourself by name only. Do not identify yourself by title or as a Service employee unless the third party expressly requests that information.

  4. At times, third party contact by telephone may result in obtaining information with respect to the determination or collection of the taxpayer's liability, i.e., a levy source. In such instances, you should identify yourself as a Service employee and follow third party contact procedures, including the reprisal determination. (See IRM 5.1.17, Third Party Contacts.)

  5. When you attempt to contact a taxpayer by telephone and someone other than the taxpayer answers the phone, do not identify yourself as a Service employee or state the reason for the attempted contact. However, if you seek information about the taxpayer from the person who answered the phone that may help in determining or collecting the liability, follow third party contact procedures and make a reprisal determination. Follow the guidelines in IRM 11.3.2.6.1 for leaving messages involving confidential information on answering machines/voice mail when trying to contact taxpayers or their representatives.

    Note:

    If unable to verify that the taxpayer has been provided with advance notice that third party contacts may be made, do not seek information about the taxpayer from the third party and do not identify yourself as an IRS employee unless expressly asked.

  6. The use of cellular and cordless devices carries certain inherent security vulnerabilities. Precautions must be taken when discussing sensitive taxpayer information using these devices. Refer to IRM 11.3.2.6.2 for guidelines on the use of cellular phones and cordless devices for communications of sensitive but unclassified information. Classified information should never be discussed using a cellular or cordless phone.

  7. When a taxpayer states he or she has been the victim of identity theft, follow the guidelines in IRM 5.1.12.2, Identity Theft, for standard documentation requirements and detailed procedures for resolving the case. Also, see IRM 21.9.2, Accounts Management Identify Theft.

5.1.10.7  (10-28-2011)
Taxpayer Rights

  1. Awareness of taxpayer rights is vitally important. Taxpayer rights, in addition to the ones listed below and in Publication 1, are addressed in IRM 5.1.9 , Collection Appeal Rights, and throughout IRM Part 5.

5.1.10.7.1  (06-07-2013)
Rights During Interviews

  1. Generally, if a taxpayer states during any interview that he or she wishes to consult with an authorized representative, the employee will suspend the interview to permit such consultation. If the interview is suspended, allow up to 10 business days for the consultation with an authorized representative. The employee should inform the taxpayer of the consequences if the representative fails to contact the employee within ten business days. Form 9297 should be prepared and delivered to the taxpayer. (See IRM 5.1.10.3.2(5).) However, while an interview may be suspended, there are situations where collection should not be delayed, such as where delay might result in the disappearance or dissipation of the asset or if the seizure is being made pursuant to a writ issued by a court.

    Exception:

    If the interview is being conducted because of a summons, it should not be suspended by the Service. (See IRM 25.5.5.4.7, Noncompliance by the Witness or a Representative.) If a summoned taxpayer appears and wishes to suspend the interview to consult with an authorized representative, do not agree to suspend the interview. Inform the taxpayer(s) that an interview may usually be suspended for that purpose, but not when it is required by a summons. IRC §7521(b)(2) . However, if the summoned person refuses to submit to questioning and to the request for documents, that person cannot be compelled to remain and continue the interview.

  2. The taxpayer has the right to make an audio recording of an in-person interview, when the interview relates to the determination or collection of tax.

  3. The right to make an audio recording does not extend to telephone interviews. If you become aware that a taxpayer or representative is recording or attempts to record a telephone conversation, advise the taxpayer or representative that the recording must be stopped. If the recording is not stopped, politely terminate the call, and document the case file accordingly. (For additional guidance see IRM 5.1.12.4, Taxpayer Recording of Interviews. )

5.1.10.7.2  (06-07-2013)
Right to Representation

  1. Taxpayers have the right to be represented in their tax matters by the following:

    • An attorney

    • A certified public accountant

    • An individual enrolled to practice before the Service

    • An officer or full time employee of the taxpayer organization (e.g. , corporation)

    • A fiduciary for the taxpayer

    • A member of the taxpayer's immediate family

    • A student attorney or CPA with permission to practice before the IRS from the Office of Professional Responsibility

    Note:

    Students working in a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) or Student Tax Clinic Program (STCP) may represent taxpayers under a special order by the Director, Office of Professional Responsibility. They should be viewed the same as any other taxpayer's representative for which a Form 2848 was submitted. The instructions to Form 2848 require that such students attach a copy of the letter from the Office of Professional Responsibility authorizing practice before the Internal Revenue Service.

  2. If the taxpayer has a representative, secure a written power of attorney (Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, may be used.) A taxpayer may authorize the Service to provide confidential tax return information to a third party designated on Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, but this form does not authorize the third party to represent the taxpayer. For detailed information on taxpayer representation and disclosure to a designee, see IRM 5.1.23.4, Processing a Third Party Authorization, and IRM 11.3.3, Disclosure to Designees and Practitioners.

  3. If all open periods are not reflected on Form 2848 or Form 8821, contact the taxpayer to secure an up-to-date form.

    Note:

    Unenrolled return preparers are not permitted and should not be allowed to act as a taxpayer representative before Collection.

5.1.10.7.3  (03-20-2009)
Other Taxpayer Rights

  1. Taxpayers generally have the right to designate the application of voluntary payments to their accounts.

  2. Taxpayers are entitled to request and receive receipts for any payments made on their accounts, whether in current or delinquent status.

    Note:

    If a cash payment is received, issue Form 809, Receipt for Payment of Taxes (see IRM 5.1.2.6.2). Usually, the taxpayer’s canceled checks, copies of bank checks, or money orders serve as receipts for non-cash payments. However, a receipt will be issued if requested by the taxpayer.

  3. Taxpayers have the right to submit an offer to compromise a tax liability. See IRM 5.8, Offer in Compromise.

  4. A taxpayer may have a right to an installment agreement. See IRM 5.14, Installment Agreements.

  5. Taxpayers may request that their case be transferred to another IRS office. Generally, such requests will be honored if the taxpayer has a valid reason.

  6. Taxpayers have the right to contact TAS at any time during the collection process, especially if they are experiencing, or will experience, a financial hardship as a result of the Service’s actions. Revenue Officers must provide Form 911 and explain a taxpayer’s right to seek help from TAS.

5.1.10.7.4  (03-20-2009)
Privacy Act of 1974

  1. The Privacy Act of 1974 (5 U.S.C. § 552a) creates a series of requirements governing the record-keeping practices of federal agencies, as they relate to the collection, maintenance, and disclosure of information pertaining to individuals. The statute also provides individuals with certain rights of access to agency records pertaining to them. For a more detailed discussion of IRS implementation of the Privacy Act, and Service employee responsibilities under the statute, see IRM 11.3.14, Privacy Act General Provisions, and IRM 11.3.19 , Privacy Act Accounting for Disclosures.

  2. Taxpayers seeking access to records pertaining to an open case should, to the extent possible, be given access to their records as part of the normal administrative process without having to resort to a formal Privacy Act or Freedom of Information Act (5 U.S.C. § 552) request. However, where a taxpayer insists upon the more formalized procedures of the Privacy Act or the Freedom of Information Act , the taxpayer should be directed to the disclosure office having responsibility for the records. Any written request received by Collection personnel which cites the Privacy Act or Freedom of Information Act should be forwarded to the appropriate disclosure office for handling in accordance with the provisions of IRM 11.3, Disclosure of Official Information.

  3. Although taxpayers have certain rights of access to agency records under the Privacy Act, as well as the Freedom of Information Act, returns and return information are confidential in accordance with IRC§ 6103(a). Returns and return information shall be disclosed only as authorized by IRC § 6103 and the underlying Treasury Regulations.

  4. Collection employees are authorized by IRC 6103(k)(6) and Treasury Regulation 301.6103(k)(6)-1 to disclose return information to the extent necessary to obtain information which may be related to a Collection investigation and which is not otherwise reasonably available. No special permission or authorization is needed to make investigative disclosures under the circumstances and conditions described in Treasury Regulation 301.6103(k)(6)-1, so long as the Collection employee is performing official duties for collection activity.

    Note:

    IRC § 6103(k)(6) and Treasury Regulation 301.6103(k)(6)-1 permit the disclosure of return information in the investigatory process, but do not authorize the disclosure of the taxpayer's return. See IRM 11.3.21 for more detail on investigative disclosures.

    Note:

    Authorization to disclose the taxpayer's return information under IRC § 6103 should not be confused with authorization to contact third parties under IRC § 7602(c). If the IRS contacts a third party to obtain information about the taxpayer, then the advance notice and record keeping requirements of IRC § 7602(c) must be met unless the taxpayer authorizes the contact.

5.1.10.8  (10-28-2011)
Case Histories

  1. Collection will use the Integrated Collection System (ICS) history functionality to record actions and decisions taken on cases. It is extremely important that case history entries be clear, accurate, concise, complete, and timely. Entries should be made in chronological order and should be recorded the day the action occurs or as soon as practical thereafter.

  2. Certain actions taken by ICS users generate systemic history entries. Management may determine the type and degree of additional documentation required. However, items such as resolution plan, action expected of taxpayers, target dates established, taxpayer compliance, plan for next actions, enforcement actions, financial analysis, etc., should be included as part of the case history. ICS pick lists are available to record many of these actions. ICS pick lists must be used when documenting the following actions: taxpayer contact, taxpayer or asset location activity, FTD verification, and closing narrative (for BMF accounts.) Not all items in the Taxpayer Contact and the Taxpayer Asset Location pick list "submenus" will be applicable in every case. Pick list Items in these submenus are mandatory only when applicable to the contact or action. For example, if Publication 594 is not discussed, no entry is required. However if discussed, the pick list must be used to document the action.

    Note:

    Numerous other sections of IRM Part 5 require that other specific actions be documented in the case history.

  3. A history entry should be made to reference an action even though a form or document relative to the action is in the case file.

  4. When related IMF and BMF accounts are present, the cases should be cross–referenced; separate histories are maintained by ICS.

  5. When a Non-Master File account is present with a related Master File account sharing a TIN, ICS maintains separate histories and permits narrative history to be written to both history files with one posting.

  6. When Forms 2747 exist for the older part of the case history, they should remain associated with the case file when the case is closed.

  7. ICS users accessing a non-assigned case are encouraged to write a brief narrative history explaining the access.

  8. All requests for deletion of ICS history must be in writing. The request should state exactly which history entry is to be deleted and explain why the request is being made, e.g., history documented in the wrong case. The concurrence of the Territory Manager must be noted on the request prior to the deletion. The ICS/Entity Quality Analyst or the Territory Manager performing the deletion should maintain the request with a print of the history before and after the deletion until the case records are deleted from the ICS archives. Entries in the wrong case may present disclosure issues. See IRM 11.3.38.6, Reporting Unauthorized Access or Disclosures, for further guidance for on how to report inadvertent disclosures.

  9. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98), Section 3707, prohibits the use of any tax protester designation to describe the taxpayer. Terms such as "frivolous argument" or "tax avoidance argument" are acceptable terms to use. You may document the taxpayer’s behavior by using such terms as “frivolous filer, “frivolous arguments” or “tax avoidance”. Refer to The Truth About Frivolous Tax Arguments for information about common frivolous “legal” arguments made by individuals and groups who oppose compliance with federal tax laws. The document also responds to some of the more common frivolous arguments made in collection due process cases brought pursuant to Internal Revenue Code 6320 or 6330.

  10. Taxpayer records of any kind, including copies of checks, cannot be maintained by Collection personnel after disposition of the account. All records must be disposed of in accordance with approved records control schedules.

5.1.10.9  (06-07-2013)
Timely Follow-ups

  1. The deadline given to a taxpayer or representative to comply with a request for information or action should be reasonable with respect to the information or action requested. When setting a deadline, ensure that sufficient time is calendared to carry out follow-up actions if the deadline is not met.

  2. When a taxpayer or representative misses a specific deadline, initiate follow-up action within fifteen (15) calendar days unless special circumstances warrant a delay, such as in some International cases. Such circumstances should be clearly documented.

    Note:

    The ICS calendar system is the preferred method for scheduling and documenting follow-up actions.

  3. If the TP requests an extension, use your discretion in granting it. Document your decision and its basis. Issue Form 9297 when a new deadline is set in face-to-face meetings with the taxpayer or representative.

  4. Follow-up action should move the case toward resolution. Follow-up actions include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Filing Notice of Federal Tax Lien ( IRM 5.12 )

    • Issuing Notice of Levy ( IRM 5.11 )

    • Issuing a summons ( IRM 25.5)

    • Taking seizure action ( IRM 5.10)

    • Taking suit action ( IRM 5.17.4)

    • Issuing Letter 903 ( IRM 5.7.2.1)

    • Completing the TFRP process (IRM 5.7)

    Note:

    A phone call or letter to a taxpayer or representative to inquire about a missed deadline is not considered an appropriate follow-up action.

  5. Take follow-up actions simultaneously, as appropriate. (See IRM 5.1.30, Resolution-directed Approach to Casework.)

5.1.10.10  (06-07-2013)
Collection Case File Check Sheet

  1. Ensure the quality and completeness of all closed and transferred files. A Collection Case File Check Sheet, Form 13353 , is available as a reference tool. The form lists critical items that must be included in the closed or transferred case file before it is shipped for processing and/or records retention.

  2. You are responsible for verifying that forms reflecting action taken to close the case (Form 433-D, Form 53, etc.) are included in the closed or transferred file along with supporting documentation such, as Form 433-A/B, Collection Information Statement, Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, and so on.

  3. Form 13353 may be used to identify the type of case and documents attached. If Form 13353 is not used, include the ICS Case Summary Screen or a similar document to identify the case closure, indicating in writing the type of disposition (IA, CNC, ADJ, etc.). If a case file folder is used, it is suggested that the identifying document be attached to the left side of the case file folder, and that all other closing, processing, and supporting documents be attached to the inside right side of the file folder. All related documents should be grouped together (i.e., documents supporting the Collection Information Statement with the 433-A, etc.).

  4. Remove dated and/or extraneous material that is not needed to support the case closure or that does not reflect actions taken in the course of the case, including ICS histories, old IDRS prints, maps, blank pages, duplicate documents, etc.

  5. Refer to the ICS User's Guide for detailed instructions on processing and routing closed cases to the Centralized Case Processing (CCP) Unit. Specific guidance associated with each type of case closure can also be found throughout Part V of the IRM.

5.1.10.11  (04-20-2010)
Timely Case Closing Actions

  1. At the point in a case when all necessary action has been taken, all required documentation has been secured, and case disposition action can be taken, close the case promptly, normally within 15 days. Groups should ship cases to CCP as soon as they are closed so that review samples can be readily available for selection.

  2. If the taxpayer's case is fully resolved and no issues remain, send Letter 4222 prior to closing case on ICS. If the taxpayer's case is closed as Currently Not Collectible -- Hardship, send Letter 4223 prior to closing on ICS in accordance with the guidance in IRM 5.1.1.4, Case Closing Letters. (Also, see IRM 5.16.1.2.9, Hardship.)

Exhibit 5.1.10-1 
Sample Language to Request Entry to Gated Property

In connection with their duties, Internal Revenue Service Officers are, at times, required by law to make direct contact with individual citizens. Accordingly, it becomes necessary for a Revenue Officer employed by the Internal Revenue Service in the performance of his or her official duties to attempt contact with a taxpayer at his or her personal residence. We hereby request that you permit entry to Internal Revenue Service personnel who present the appropriate credentials.


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