8.1.9  Closed Case Referrals and Customer Service Contacts

Manual Transmittal

December 17, 2013

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 8.1.9, Closed Case Referrals and Customer Service Contacts.

Material Changes

(1) Revised to correct the Appeals customer service telephone number , which has been changed to (559) 233-1267.

(2) Revised IRM 8.1.9.9 to update the records storage requirements.

(3) Other minor editorial changes included with this revision.

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM supersedes IRM 8.1.9, dated 08-06-2012.

Audience

Appeals

Effective Date

(12-17-2013)

Susan L. Latham
Director, Policy, Quality and Case Support

8.1.9.1  (09-27-2011)
Appeals Account Resolution Specialist (AARS)
Fresno Account Resolution Team

  1. The Appeals Account Resolution Specialist (AARS) team is generally comprised of employees with extensive IRS experience in accounts management, customer service, and as tax examiners, among other varied responsibilities. Formed in 2004, the employees are a specialized team located in Fresno, California. The team performs a number of customer service related responsibilities for Appeals, for both internal and external customers. Primary responsibilities include:

    1. Closed case referrals.

    2. Customer service telephone and internal email inquiries.

    3. Operations Assistance Request (OAR) screening for Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) OAR referrals.

  2. A primary responsibility of the AARS team is to resolve the closed case referrals it receives. What constitutes a closed case referral is discussed below. The AARS team does not change case determinations or decisions.

8.1.9.2  (12-17-2013)
AARS Customer Service Referrals

  1. The AARS team receives closed case referrals in a number of ways:

    1. Taxpayers and Representatives

      Telephone calls may be placed 24 hours a day through the Appeals customer service telephone number at 559-233–1267. Messages are returned within 24 hours.

    2. Customers within IRS

      IRS internal customers may send emails to the AARS team at the *AP TAS Inquiries mailbox, the *AP Account Resolution mailbox, call the AARS team at 559-233–1267, or fax their requests to the AARS team at 559-443-7711.

    3. Appeals Employees

      It is preferred that Appeals employees use the "Back End Account Resolution Form" which is available within the Appeals Centralized Database System (ACDS) on APGolf. This form and any other questions about open or closed referrals may be emailed to the *AP TAS Inquiries mailbox, the *AP Account Resolution mailbox, or faxed to the AARS team at 559-443-7711.

    4. Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Employees

      Per the TAS/Appeals Service Level Agreement (SLA), TAS is required to contact the AARS team by telephone or by email at *AP TAS Inquiries, before issuing an OAR for action by Appeals. This includes closed Appeals cases. The OAR process is discussed in detail in IRM 8.1.9.3, below.

      Non-OAR inquiries from TAS may be received by any of the means described in (b), above.

  2. A "closed case" is an Appeals case which has been closed on ACDS and the Processing Employee Automated System (PEAS) for at least 30 days. Cases needing any corrective action by Account and Processing Support (APS) which have not been closed on PEAS for at least 30 days should be referred back to APS for corrective action. Referrals back to APS should be made by the AARS team via a secure email from the AARS Team Manager to the Processing Team Manager (PTM) of the employee to whom the case was assigned for closure on PEAS. Include a "cc" to the Area Manager and APS Technical Advisor responsible for overseeing the APS team.

  3. Closed case referrals may be for virtually any reason. Some of the most common issues are as follows (not all inclusive):

    1. Tax court decision application

    2. Excess collection issues

    3. Payment tracers / misapplied payments

    4. Erroneous refunds

    5. Lien / levy issues

    6. Trust Fund Recovery Penalty (TFRP) issues

    7. Innocent spouse allocation and mirroring issues

    8. Penalty and interest computations

    9. Implementation of decisions reached through the Collection Appeals Program (CAP)

    10. Transaction issues involving the Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS), such as:

    • Installment Agreements - all types

    • Form 3870 adjustments

    • Correction of unpostable transactions

    • Account Freezes

    • Offer in Compromise (OIC) processing

    • Currently not Collectible (CNC)

    • Penalty and interest computations

  4. Not all referrals to the AARS team are accepted. The AARS team does not work the following issues:

    1. Closed or open cases which were never assigned in Appeals.

    2. Closed case inquiries where all transactions have correctly posted to IDRS, but the taxpayer or representative disagree with the substance of the decision rendered.

    3. Open case issues. With very few exceptions, a case that is open on ACDS will not be accepted as a referral. Open cases should be handled by the appropriate APS office in coordination with the Settlement Officer (SO) or Appeals Officer (AO), as needed.

      Note:

      With the approval of the Director, APS, an open case issue may be assigned to AARS. See IRM 8.1.9.8 below.

    4. Tax Court cases dismissed for lack of jurisdiction or lack of prosecution.

      Exception:

      If APS made an error in applying the dismissal decision, the AARS team may make a correction.

  5. If an approved Form 5402 or Form 3870 is needed to correct an account, the form must be signed by an ATM or other official delegated to approve the action to be taken.

8.1.9.3  (12-17-2013)
Operations Assistance Request (OAR)
From the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)

  1. TAS uses the OAR process to refer a case to Appeals when TAS lacks either the statutory or delegated authority to affect the resolution of the matter. This authority is found in IRM Part 13.

  2. Actions specific to the OAR process were developed by TAS and Appeals in the 2004 SLA, 2007 addendum to the SLA, and Post Assessment Penalty Appeal (PENAP) cases, March 2010. Per the addendum to the SLA, Appeals centralized its receipt of OARs. In accordance with the SLA, when initiating contact with Appeals, all TAS employees with questions regarding Appeals or Appeals cases will contact the AARS team prior to making contact with another Appeals employee.

  3. Before referring an OAR to Appeals, TAS will contact the AARS team via email at *AP TAS Inquiries, or by telephone at 559-233-1267, to determine if there is a current or former case in Appeals.

  4. If the case is not currently or formerly an Appeals case, TAS will not send an OAR to Appeals. Appeals will reject an OAR if it does not involve a past or present case in Appeals. The OAR should be sent to the Operating Division (OD) that issued the notice granting the Appeal right to the taxpayer. That OD should follow normal processes in forwarding the case to Appeals.

  5. The AARS team determines proper routing of the OAR.

  6. The AARS team is not responsible for determining where an OAR is assigned.

  7. TAS will ensure that cases meet appropriate criteria prior to submitting an OAR to Appeals, including development of the case.

  8. Recommendations made by TAS may include, but are not limited to the following:

    1. Expedited consideration of the case by Appeals

    2. A review of supplemental information or issues to be considered

    3. Re-opening of the case by Appeals

    4. Elevation of the case for review at a higher level

    5. Other similar actions

  9. Whenever appropriate, TAS will also outline the account adjustments which need to be effected to implement the recommendations of TAS.

  10. When the referral is complete, it will be forwarded to Appeals with the OAR. To initiate an OAR, TAS will use the Form 12412, Operations Assistance Request. To best facilitate tracking, the OAR will be sent, via secure email, to *AP TAS OARS. If email service is unavailable, the OAR may be sent via fax to 559-443-7711.

  11. The AARS will acknowledge receipt of an OAR by sending an encrypted email to the TAS case advocate listed on the OAR. The email will provide TAS with the name and telephone number of the Appeals employee to whom the related Appeals case is assigned, as well as the name and telephone number of the employee's manager. A copy of the email, with the OAR attached, will be sent to the Appeals Team Manager (ATM) of the employee to whom the related case is assigned.

  12. TAS will hold related documents until Appeals acknowledges and accepts the OAR. Once TAS receives notification that the OAR is accepted, TAS will forward related documents to the Appeals employee who is assigned the OAR, by either hand delivery, fax, regular or overnight mail. The TAS employee should confirm routing information prior to forwarding the documentation.

8.1.9.4  (12-17-2013)
Appeals Customer Service Telephone Line

  1. The AARS team manages the nationwide Appeals customer service telephone line: (559) 233-1267. The customer service line is available to all those doing business with Appeals, whether they are internal or external customers. The line is staffed, Monday through Friday, from 7:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m., Pacific time, and is available to receive messages 24 hours a day. The AARS team assists callers with a wide range of examination and collection issues which pertain to open or closed Appeals cases, and educates callers with Appeals processes and procedures. For the customer service line, Appeals receives calls pertaining, but not limited to, the following case types:

    • Open or closed Appeals cases

    • Assigned or unassigned Appeals cases

    • Cases in transit to Appeals

    • Cases involving appeal rights and post-appeal rights

  2. Inquiries about cases that are not in the jurisdiction of Appeals are directed to the appropriate function for assistance (Accounts Management, Collection, Examination, etc...).

  3. When accepting calls or transcribing messages left on the customer service line, AARS team members will note the following information:

    • The name of the caller

    • Taxpayer identification number

    • Contact telephone number

    • The location of an internal customer, if known

    • The caller's identity (TAS representative, AO or SO, taxpayer representative, etc.)

    • A summary of the content of the call or message

8.1.9.5  (09-27-2011)
Customer Service Emails

  1. The Appeals Customer Service email accounts are for members of TAS and internal customers only. Email inquiries are handled in the same manner as phone inquiries. See IRM 8.1.9.4, above.

  2. Per the SLA addendum, TAS is to use the *AP TAS Inquiries email account.

  3. Other internal customers should use the *AP Account Resolution mailbox for Appeals inquiries.

  4. The *AP TAS Inquiries email account is monitored Monday through Friday, from 7:00am to 3:00pm, Pacific time. The *AP ACCOUNT RESOLUTION email account is reviewed once daily.

    Note:

    If either of the above mailboxes is temporarily unavailable, the alternate mailbox may be used.

8.1.9.6  (09-27-2011)
Appeals Customer Service (ACuServ) Inventory System

  1. The ACuServ system is the customer service tracking system used by the AARS team to inventory and monitor activities on closed cases. The system was established in 1999, for use by the Appeals Customer Service Officers as a supplement to ACDS.

  2. AARS team members will use ACuServ to record all case activities as "Tasks" on closed case referrals, and to track time on most cases.

  3. After the referral is screened following the procedures in IRM 8.1.9.6.1, it is loaded onto ACuServ.

  4. Enter all requested data. The Received Date (RECDATE) is the date the referral is received. This field will automatically populate with the current date, but may be overwritten. Generally, the minimum additional case information should include the following:

    1. Received date

    2. Taxpayer name

    3. Whether the task is related to an Appeals case or not

      Note:

      The answer to "C" will almost always be "yes" . See IRM 8.1.9.2(4).

    4. Source - The originator of the inquiry (select from drop down menus)

    5. Category - Underlying cause of the inquiry (select from drop down menus)

    6. Topic (narrative history entry)

      Note:

      Name, RECDATE, Source and Category Code are required entries. Other entries may be added at user option, but they are not necessary for tracking of the task.

  5. When a name is entered into the "Name" field, the system will list matching name entries. Before loading a closed case, check "View" on all TINs for any prior tasks. If the AARS team member locates a task that is or was assigned to another AARS team member, return the case to the AARS Lead for assignment to the previous AARS team member.

  6. After the task has been entered, select the "Add Task" button to be taken to the "Update Task" screen.

8.1.9.6.1  (09-27-2011)
Initial Actions on Closed Case Referrals

  1. All new cases need to be screened for any prior cases that are or were previously assigned to the AARS team, and to ensure that the case is closed on ACDS and PEAS before any action is started on the case.

  2. To accept the case, it must have been closed on ACDS and PEAS for a minimum of 30 calendar days. Cases not closed for the minimum number of days will not, generally, be accepted by the AARS team. If the case is open or has not been closed for the minimum number of days, the applicable following actions should be taken:

    1. If the referral is from an Appeals employee, reject it as an Appeals case that is open, or which has not been closed for the minimum number of days. See IRM 8.1.9.2 (2) if required closing actions by APS were incomplete.

    2. If the referral is an OAR, close it as a rejected OAR, and return a copy of the OAR to the AARS team member working the incoming OAR. Forward the original OAR to its originator, separately.

    3. If the referral is from the taxpayer or authorized representative, provide them with the name of the AO, SO or Processing Team Manager (PTM), and close the referral.

  3. Repeated cases on the same taxpayer, generally, will be assigned to the same AARS team member that was initially assigned to the taxpayer. For every case coming to the AARS team, once it has been determined that the case is not open and has also been closed for at least 30 days, the AARS team member will check the ACuServ system to see if a prior case is evident. If a prior case on the taxpayer is evident, the new case will normally be assigned to the same AARS team member to whom the prior case was assigned. The new case should be presented to the team lead to have it assigned to the appropriate AARS team member.

  4. If the prior case was assigned to an Appeals Customer Service Officer or AARS member who is no longer with the team, print and review the record for case assignment. The current AARS team member will retain the case.

  5. If an approved Form 5402 or Form 3870 are needed to correct an account, the forms must be signed by an ATM or other official delegated to approve the action to be taken.

  6. All new cases must be loaded onto ACuServ within 24 hours of receipt.

  7. Closed cases will not be reopened. If there is subsequent contact on a previously closed case and the case has been recorded as closed in the unit ACuServ inventory report, do not remove the closed date and status from ACuServ. Create a new case on ACuServ.

8.1.9.6.2  (09-27-2011)
ACuServ Case Histories

  1. The first entry in ACuServ must include comments regarding the Assessment Statute Expiration Date (ASED), Collection Statute Expiration Date (CSED), Refund Statute Expiration Date (RSED) and the 24-month Offer-in Compromise (OIC) statute under IRC 7122(f), as provided by the Tax Increase Prevention and Reconciliation Act of 2005 (TIPRA). Compute and record the dates for each statute in the initial history entry. Any potential statute issues should be discussed here.

  2. All history should be promptly recorded into ACuServ. When documenting ACuServ, indicate current case actions as well as actions being monitored and/or planned for follow-up.

  3. Record all contacts and/or case activities with respect to the case.

  4. When recording an OAR on a closed case:

    1. Record acknowledgement of the OAR, and

    2. Input a follow-up action for when the OAR is to be completed. This will ensure the completion date is not missed. If more time is needed for completion, promptly contact TAS with a new date.

      Note:

      This activity needs to be continually maintained.

  5. The final entry on ACuServ must identify the error trend:

    • If the error was by an Appeals employee, list the following:
      Employee's title
      Employee's area
      Employee's team
      Trend category

    • If other than an Appeals employee, enter as much information as appropriate regarding the error.

8.1.9.7  (09-27-2011)
Closing Tasks

  1. When all actions have been completed and a case is ready for closure, take the following actions:

    • Strip all unnecessary documents from the case file

    • Make sure all entries are completed

    • Enter the closing code and date closed

    • Choose the appropriate closing code:
      03 - Regular Closure
      86 - Rejected Case
      99 - To delete a case

  2. Select "Submit & Print" to save the data entered on the screen.

  3. Print the screen and attach it to the front of the AARS closed case file.

  4. Place the case in the "Closed" bin.

8.1.9.8  (10-01-2012)
Accepting Assignment of Cases Open on the Appeals Centralized Database System (ACDS)

  1. As stated in IRM 8.1.9.2(4)(c), the AARS team typically does not accept referrals on cases that are open on ACDS. However, at the discretion of the Director, Account and Processing Support, in certain, rare circumstances, the AARS team may accept a referral of a case that is open on ACDS.

  2. Requests to the AARS team to take action on cases that are open on ACDS should be made in an email to the manager of the AARS team, and contain the following information:

    1. The taxpayer's name

    2. The taxpayer's TIN or SSN

    3. A brief description of the issue to be considered by the AARS team

    4. A summary of the actions that have been taken to address the issue, and why they have not been effective

    5. Why APS cannot complete the actions

  3. When the AARS team agrees to accept assignment of an open case, the ATM or PTM of the APS office handling the case will be notified by the AARS team manager that the case has been accepted.

  4. The AARS team manager will advise the ATM or PTM whether or not the referral has been accepted.

8.1.9.9  (12-17-2013)
Storage of AARS Closed Case Files

  1. Records storage for AARS cases was determined by agreement with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), job number N1-058-07, and supplemented by DAA-0058-2013-0012, 08/07/2013).

  2. AARS closed cases are stored in TIN order, by date closed, and within the fiscal year.

  3. Cut off files at the end of the quarter In which the case/referral is closed.

  4. Paper files are to be destroyed no less than 1 year after cutoff, and not later than 2 years after cutoff.


More Internal Revenue Manual