SAMS FAQ & Glossary
Q: What is Systemic Advocacy?
A: Systemic Advocacy means identifying and addressing systemic tax problems by analyzing their causes and recommending corrective action. We may try to resolve these issues through administrative changes to IRS policy, procedures, and processes; or by proposing legislative remedies.
Q: Is Systemic Advocacy the same as the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)?
A: The Office of Systemic Advocacy is part of the Taxpayer Advocate Service. In keeping with TAS' Congressionally-mandated mission, we maintain independence from other IRS functions, look at issues impartially, and pursue recommendations from that perspective.
The Office of Systemic Advocacy advocates systemic and procedural change, both reactively and proactively. We focus on issues that impact multiple taxpayers rather than problems that occur on a single federal tax return. The Division of Individual Advocacy (DIA) works on systemic issues affecting groups of individual taxpayers; the Division of Business Advocacy (DBA) deals with issues that impact groups of business taxpayers. We also help to coordinate and produce the National Taxpayer Advocate's Annual Report to Congress on TAS activities for each fiscal year.
Q: What is the National Taxpayer Advocate's Annual Report to Congress?
A: The Annual Report to Congress is one of two annual reports required of the National Taxpayer Advocate. The NTA submits this document directly to the Senate and House of Representatives each December 31, with no intervening review by the IRS Commissioner or other officials. The Annual Report to Congress must discuss the most serious problems encountered by taxpayers, the tax issues most often litigated, and legislative recommendations for resolving problems. Some of the issues submitted on SAMS are included in this report.
Q: What is SAMS?
A: SAMS stands for Systemic Advocacy Management System, our primary method of receiving and prioritizing systemic issues and problems submitted by other IRS employees and the general public. SAMS allows taxpayers, practitioners, businesses, professional groups, and academic institutions to bring systemic issues directly to our attention via the Internet.
Q: What kind of issues should be submitted to the Office of Systemic Advocacy?
A: We'd like to hear about issues that might affect a significant number of taxpayers, not individual problems that apply to only one person. For example, if an unresolved federal tax problem is causing a hardship for your family, you may be able to resolve it with help from one of our case advocates. However, if you and several friends or business associates are all experiencing the same problem, you may have identified an issue for you to submit on SAMS, and for us to examine.
Q: How do you define "systemic?"
A: An issue impacts a segment or group of taxpayers locally, regionally, or nationally. It involves systems, processes, policies, procedures, or legislation; and requires study, analysis, recommendations, and action.
Q: Can I send attachments with submissions?
A: No, because SAMS doesn't accept attachments. However, we may ask you for additional information after we've reviewed your issue.
Q: Can I paste in text from Microsoft Word?
A: Please don't! Word contains hidden characters that will not allow us to process your submission. If you feel that you need to paste something into a field, prepare the document in Notepad (found under Accessories on the Windows Start menu), which is plain text. You can also convert Word files to text and paste from those.
Q: What happens to my issue after I complete the submission?
A: All issues submitted by the public are entered into the SAMS database along with those sent by IRS employees. After reviewing each submission, we decide whether it merits development as an advocacy project, and if so, we assign it to be resolved. We also analyze trend data to determine whether similar issues are being received, and if so may combine them to be worked together.
Q: Can I search the database to check the status of my issue or look at other submissions?
A: Sorry, but privacy and confidentiality concerns make it impossible for us to provide this kind of access.
Q: What determines whether a submission is assigned as a project?
A: The ranking criteria consider items such as whether the issue can alleviate taxpayers' burden, or whether taxpayer rights are being violated.
Q: What is a project and what's the usual result or outcome?
A: An advocacy project is designed to eliminate, reduce or prevent a problem or problems that taxpayers encounter in meeting their federal tax obligations. Most of our projects are administrative, dealing strictly with the administration of existing tax law. However, some projects are legislative, with the goal of easing taxpayer burden by amending a current law or enacting a new one. These legislative recommendations are elevated in the National Taxpayer Advocate's Annual Report to Congress.
A project typically involves researching, identifying and verifying the cause of the problem; collecting and analyzing data; soliciting feedback from sources inside and outside the IRS; and developing a solution. We then work with the IRS to implement the solution. Where appropriate, the National Taxpayer Advocate may recommend legislative action to Congress.
Q: Is there another way to submit issues besides using SAMS?
A: SAMS is preferred because it is the quickest, most direct method of bringing issues to our attention. However, you may also use the following procedure:
Go to the Forms and Publications section of IRS.gov to obtain a Systemic Advocacy Issue Submission Form, IRS Form 14411. This is a fillable PDF document. Taxpayers who lack Internet access can obtain the printed version of Form 14411 by calling 1-800-Tax-Form. Fill in the fields as requested. Do not send any taxpayer information such as social security numbers or other private data. Save the finished form to your hard drive, then print and and fax it to (202) 622-3125.
ADMINISTRATIVE: A problem that can be resolved without a legislative change.
ANNUAL REPORT TO CONGRESS: The National Taxpayer Advocate's Annual Report to Congress or ARC is an extensive discussion of taxpayer problems, legislative recommendations designed to solve problems, the previous year's most litigated tax issues, and Taxpayer Advocate Service activities. Some of the issues submitted and worked through SAMS will be included in this report, which is delivered to Congress on December 31 of each year.
CUSTOMERS: The public or IRS population that will benefit from the solution to the problem, or judge whether the resolution is satisfactory.
DUPLICATE ISSUE: An issue that already exists in the SAMS database.
EXISTING ISSUE: An issue already submitted to SAMS, already being worked as a project, or previously worked and resolved.
FBU: Functional Business Unit. These are IRS organizations such as the Wage and Investment and Small Business/Self Employed (SB/SE) Operating Divisions. Other operating divisions deal with charities and non-profits, and with government entities.
ISSUE: The subject of a submission. A systemic issue impacts a group or segment of taxpayers, locally, regionally or nationally. It involves systems, processes, policies, procedures, or legislation; and requires study, analysis, recommendation(s), and action to effect positive result(s). Advocacy issues are not the same as individual taxpayer cases.
KEY WORDS: Words that provide identifying information for researching issues, managing inventory and workload and identifying projects. Key words also help determine the most serious problems faced by taxpayers (part of the Annual Report to Congress).
LEGISLATIVE: An issue requiring legislative action to resolve. The National Taxpayer Advocate proposes legislative recommendations each year in the Annual Report to Congress.
OFFICE OF SYSTEMIC ADVOCACY: The branch of the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) that handles systemic tax issues as opposed to individual problems or cases. Systemic Advocacy works to reduce or eliminate problems facing both individual and business taxpayers.
PROJECT: An identified issue that has been accepted and is being worked as an Advocacy Project by the TAS Office of Systemic Advocacy.
PROJECT DIRECTOR: The project "Director" assigned by the SAMS Program Manager, generally the Director of Individual Advocacy (DIA) for W & I issues and the Director of Business Advocacy (DBA) for SB/SE, LMSB, TE/GE issues.
PROGRAM MANAGER: The TAS Systemic Advocacy manager responsible for administering SAMS and corresponding business practices.
RELATED: A submission that already has a related project open in inventory, or an issue that is based on the same subject but has a different problem; for example, two issues involving "Offers In Compromise."
RESOLUTION: The action(s) taken to resolve an issue or project. For example, changes to IRS systems, processes, policies and procedures; or legislative remedies.
SYSTEMIC: A systemic issue impacts a group of taxpayers locally, regionally, or nationally. It involves systems, processes, policies, procedures, or legislation; and requires study, analysis, recommendations, and action. Systemic Advocacy is the process of identifying and addressing these issues.