1.11.6 Using and Researching the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM)

Manual Transmittal

April 08, 2020

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 1.11.6, Internal Management Documents System, Using and Researching the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM).

Material Changes

(1) Editorial changes are made throughout to correct references, update terms, and add links to resources.

(2) IRM 1.11.6.1 Removed members of the public as an audience; they use the IRM, but they are not the audience.

(3) IRM 1.11.6.1.2 Revised to remove paragraph 2 as redundant.

(4) IRM 1.11.6.1.5 Added SERP and IRS.gov as related resources.

(5) IRM 1.11.6.4.1 Added information on availability of commercial research services.

(6) IRM 1.11.6.4.2 Added all fields available on IRM Product Catalog Information page.

(7) IRM 1.11.6.4.3 Added information on and clarification of the organizational history collection in the IRS Historical Research Library. Also added information on how the public may request historical, obsolete IRMs.

(8) IRM 1.11.6.4.5 Removed reference to availability of source files (xml) on IRS.gov.

(9) IRM 1.11.6.4.8 Updated to reflect that IPUs are effective for two years, therefore requirement to revise and publish annually no longer applicable.

(10) IRM 1.11.6.7.4 Updated language to clarify that the IRM Index is published semi-annually and produced monthly.

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 1.11.6, dated July 28, 2017, is superseded.

Audience

All IRS employees

Effective Date

(04-08-2020)

James R. Bolling
Director, Servicewide Policy, Directives and Electronic Resources
Strategy and Business Solutions
Research, Applied Analytics and Statistics

Program Scope and Objectives

  1. Purpose: This IRM section describes the function of the IRM and provides information on the various ways to find information in the IRM.

  2. Goal: This information is a resource for IRS employees on how to use the IRM and locate information efficiently and effectively in the performance of their duties.

  3. Audience: The readers of this IRM include:

    • All IRS employees

    • Employees of federal agencies including Treasury, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), Government Accountability Office (GAO), Department of Justice

  4. Policy Owner: The Office of Servicewide Policy, Directives and Electronic Resources (SPDER), under the Director, Strategy and Business Solutions, Research, Applied Analytics and Statistics (RAAS).

  5. Program Owner: SPDER is the program office responsible office for overseeing the IMD process and providing guidance. Each IRS organization is responsible for establishing an internal process for managing their procedures based upon these Servicewide processes.

  6. Contact Information: To recommend changes or make any other suggestions to this IRM section, contact the SPDER office by:

    • Email: spder@irs.gov

    • Website: https://spder.web.irs.gov/officeinfo/contact/Default.aspx

Background

  1. In 1999, IRS formed the Office of Servicewide Policy, Directives and Electronic Research (now Servicewide Policy, Directives and Electronic Resources), following the enactment of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998. One of the primary goals of IRS modernization was to restore and maintain the IRM as the official compilation of IRS policies, procedures, and guidelines.

  2. SPDER produces tools to assist employees in using the IRM in the performance of their duties. The core mission is to design, implement, and monitor the process by which IRS creates policy and procedure.

Authority

  1. By law, federal agencies are expected to document, publish, and maintain records of policies, authorities, procedures, and organizational operations. The IRM is the source for the IRS. See IRM 1.11.1.1.2 for IMD authorities and legal obligations.

Roles and Responsibilities

  1. Director, Research, Applied Analytics and Statistics (RAAS) is the senior executive.

  2. Director, Strategy and Business Solutions is the first-line executive responsible for the IMD program.

  3. Director, Servicewide Policy, Directives and Electronic Resources is the senior manager responsible for the IMD program.

Definition of Terms and Acronyms

  1. Internal Management Documents (IMDs) - The official communications that designate authorities and deliver instructions to IRS officials and employees.

  2. Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) - The primary, official source of instructions to employees relating to the organization, administration, and operation of the IRS. The IRM contains directions for employees to carry out their responsibilities and meet their obligations.

Related Resources

  1. IRM Online: https://irm.web.irs.gov/

  2. Electronic Publishing catalog page: https://publish.no.irs.gov/catlg.html

  3. IRM Numerical Index: https://publish.no.irs.gov/pubsys/irm/numind.html

  4. Servicewide Electronic Research Program (SERP): http://serp.enterprise.irs.gov/databases/irm.dr/irms.html

  5. IRS.gov: https://www.irs.gov/irm

  6. Training: Integrated Talent Management (ITM) course # 59521, The Internal Revenue Manual: An Introduction

How the IRM is Used

  1. The table below outlines how the IRM is used by various groups inside and outside the IRS.

    Who Might Use the IRM Reasons Examples
    Senior Executives
    • Structure, mission, and responsibilities of each IRS Division and Function and the responsibilities of subordinate offices

    • Responsibilities of the Senior Leadership for maintaining, documenting, and distributing IRM content for their program area

    • IRM 1.1, Organization and Staffing

    • IRM 1.11.1, Internal Management Documents (IMD) Program and Responsibilities

    Managers
    • Administrative requirements and guidelines on managing employees

    • Performance and quality measures

    • IRM 1.4, Resource Guide for Managers

    IRS Employees
    • Daily operations of tax administration

    • Content ranging from informational material to step-by-step procedures on a specific action

    Compliance issues are addressed primarily in:
    • Part 4, Examining Process

    • Part 5, Collecting Process

    Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA)
    Government Accountability Office (GAO)
    Evidence that IRS:
    • Operates effectively and efficiently as a Federal agency,

    • Complies with applicable laws and regulations, and

    • Provides quality service to the public.

    • All IRM sections

    Taxpayer Advocate Service
    • Ability to review the IRM to identify potential taxpayer concerns or problems that may result in an unnecessary increase in taxpayer burden or present taxpayer rights violations

    • Ability to propose changes to IRS practices to mitigate or eliminate these types of taxpayer concerns (IRC 7803(c)(2)(A))

    • All IRM sections

    Chief Counsel and Department of Justice Attorneys, outside practitioners, and courts
    • Show the IRS’s processes and procedures and the operation of IRS programs

    • All IRM sections

    Public
    • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) information

    • IRM sections (sensitive information not included)

Using the IRM

  1. The IRM enables employees to access current, consistent procedures.

  2. You can find information in the IRM ranging from IRS authorities to step-by-step operating instructions on a specific activity. At the broadest level, the IRM:

    1. Documents the current mission and structure of the IRS. See IRM 1.1.1, IRS Mission and Organizational Structure.

    2. Provides servicewide delegations of authority from the Commissioner to the responsible official(s) and/or subordinate position(s). See IRM 1.2, Servicewide Policies and Authorities.

    3. Provides policies of the IRS issued by the Commissioner or Deputy Commissioners. See IRM 1.2, Servicewide Policies and Authorities.

    4. Provides the purpose and mission of every IRS Division and Function through functional statement IRMs. See IRM 1.1, Organization and Staffing.

    5. Provides step-by-step instructions for completing IRS program work to ensure compliance with laws and regulations.

How to Access the IRM

  1. You can access the IRM through several different products. View the following subsections to obtain hyperlinks to and information about each IRM product. See IRM 1.11.1.5, IMDs Numbered by Business Process, for a description of IRS business processes by IRM part number.

  2. The table below outlines the IRM products available in the IRS and their intended audiences.

    Product OUO Redacted Intended Audience For more information
    Commercial Research Services Yes IRS Employees and the Public IRM 1.11.6.4.1
    Electronic Publishing Website No IRS Employees IRM 1.11.6.4.2
    Historical IRM No IRS Employees, Federal Employees, and others upon request IRM 1.11.6.4.3
    Internal Revenue Manual DVD Yes IRS Employees away from an IRS network connection IRM 1.11.6.4.4
    IRM on IRS.gov Yes Public IRM 1.11.6.4.5
    IRM Online No IRS Employees IRM 1.11.6.4.6
    Paper IRM No IRS Employees IRM 1.11.6.4.7
    Servicewide Electronic Research Program (SERP) No IRS Employees IRM 1.11.6.4.8
  3. IRM content may be superseded by interim guidance. See IRM 1.11.6.7.2, Interim Guidance, for instructions to locate interim guidance updates to the IRM.

Commercial Research Services

  1. A redacted version of the IRM is available to the public through several commercial research services. IRS Employees may request access to commercial services for which the IRS has current contracts by following instructions at https://rnet.web.irs.gov/Default.aspx.

  2. The IRM published by the commercial research services is limited to publicly available portions of the IRM (official use only content is redacted).

Electronic Publishing Website

  1. Go to the Electronic Publishing website at: https://publish.no.irs.gov/catlg.html to view all current and previous IRM sections published in Portable Document File (PDF) format.

  2. The IRM Product Catalog Information page provides the following information about each IRM section:

    • IRM number

    • IRM section title

    • Revision date

    • Catalog Number

    • Status (active or obsolete)

    • Product description

    • Electronic Availability (PDF files dating back to 1997)

    • Distribution information

    • Description (subject matter, prior IRM sections or other publications)

    • Points of contact (Product Content Owner/Author, Publishing Specialist, and Inventory Management Specialist)

  3. The Electronic Publishing website provides various ways to search for the IRM and other product types:

    • Search by Catalog number

    • Search by Product Number

    • Search by Product Title

    • Browse the Numerical Index of all active IRM sections

  4. Employees can sign up to receive an email notification when an IRM section is updated/revised. See IRM 1.11.6.4.2.1, Email Notification Subscription and Management for IRS Published Products.

Email Notification Subscription and Management for IRS Published Products
  1. You may request email notification when any product maintained on the Publishing website is revised and published.

  2. To set up your email notification subscription:

    1. Go to the Product Catalog Information Page: https://publish.no.irs.gov/catlg.html

    2. Locate the desired product by completing either View by Catalog Number or View by Product Number fields

    3. Click Submit

    4. Locate, click, and complete fields on Sign up under the Availability tab

  3. To manage your email notification subscription:

    1. Go to the Publishing website at https://publish.no.irs.gov/catlg.html

    2. Locate and click on Manage My Subscriptions

    3. Subscribe to or unsubscribe from desired publications

Historical IRM

  1. To access or research versions of the IRM prior to 1997 (unavailable on the Electronic Publishing Website), visit the IRS Historical Research Library: https://oldirm.web.irs.gov/. The library houses prior revisions of the IRM dating back to 1952.

  2. The IRS Historical Research Library also houses a series of collections relating to IRS policy and organizational history including:

    • Policy Memoranda prior to the official IRM

    • Treasury Orders from 1960 - 1980

    • Document Clearance Records for the IRM, Delegations of Authority, and Policy Statements from 1952

    • Organizational history files from 1912 including reorganization studies, proposals initiated to design an efficient organizational framework, final recommendations, implementation plans, descriptions of responsibilities assigned to the senior executive officers, organizational charts, and organizational relationships and processes, among others

    • Other records documenting organizational, structural, and procedural changes

  3. Copies of these documents may be delivered in PDF, hardcopy, or fax.

  4. Members of the public may request copies of these documents through the Freedom of Information (FOIA) office. Information on how to request is available at https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/irs-freedom-of-information.

Internal Revenue Manual DVD

  1. Quarterly, Media and Publications publishes Document 9768, Internal Revenue Manual DVD.. The DVD does not contain any official use only (OUO) information.

    Note:

    This is a helpful tool, but employees must be aware that the DVD doesn’t contain the complete, current IRM. The IRM is revised between quarterly DVD releases.

  2. You can order copies of the DVD through the Internal Management Documents Distribution System (IMDDS): https://publish.no.irs.gov/distsys/imdds/imddsndx.html. Each DVD comes with operational instructions and tips for searching content.

IRM on IRS.gov

  1. IRS posts the IRM on IRS.gov to comply with FOIA legal requirements.

  2. Go to the IRM on IRS.gov to view the publicly available version of the IRM. This version of the IRM is redacted and does not contain any official use only content.

    Note:

    Check the effective date of the IRM sections posted on IRS.gov, as they may have a future effective date. Also see Recent Interim Guidance To Staff at https://www.irs.gov/privacy-disclosure/recent-interim-guidance-to-staff to find interim updates to the various IRM sections.

  3. Large IRM sections are split into multiple pages. Click "Next" at the bottom of each page to continue on to the next page.

IRM Online

  1. Research the currently effective IRM at IRM Online.

  2. IRM Online has several user-friendly features and tools.

    Tools and Features Description
    Embedded IRM links Within each IRM section are links to other IRMs, IRS published products, and vendor supplied legal research and reference materials.
    Favorites feature Save an IRM section to your Favorites.
    IRM Online Search Help Obtain help on conducting searches.
    Hyperlink tool Enter an IRM Number to receive a properly formed link that you can use in a web page, email, or other electronic product.
    Indexes Sort the IRM by Number, Audience, Effective Date, Title, Owner, Revision date.
    Interim guidance access From each IRM section, select interim guidance or SERP IPUs to locate current interim guidance.
    Other IRM versions From each IRM section, select PDF/Print, SERP/IPUs, or IRS.gov to access other versions of the same IRM section.
    Search features Search by IRM number or keyword, and limit searches by IRM part and/or chapter.
  3. For training on using IRM Online, visit the IRM Online Training page.

Paper IRM

  1. Paper copies of the IRM (produced in PDF format) are available to employees but may be subject to certain limitations, such as page size (more than 100 pages) or employee access to electronic sources. Go to Media and Publications' Paper IRM Content page for information on obtaining paper copies of the IRM.

Servicewide Electronic Research Program (SERP) IRM

  1. Access the SERP IRM site to view IRM sections relating to Customer Service, Submission Processing, some Compliance programs, and other miscellaneous sections.

    Note:

    The SERP IRM does not contain all IRM sections. The IRM owner may elect to post an IRM section on SERP.

  2. The IRM on SERP is updated with interim guidance that is issued by the IRM author through IRM Procedural Updates (IPUs). The SERP IRM is revised online based on the IPU. The revised content is highlighted in yellow, and the subsection date is updated to reflect the IPU revision. IPUs that meet the FOIA criteria are redacted and posted on the FOIA Library on IRS.gov.

  3. The SERP IRM has advanced search features allowing the user to search by IRM number or keyword.

Structure of the IRM

  1. The IRM is organized as follows:

    1. Part - High level IRS business processes

    2. Chapter - Major topic within a Part

    3. Section - Subtopics within a Chapter

    4. Subsection - Detailed topics within a Section

  2. The IRM is maintained and used at the section level. Each section is a separate product.

    Example:

    The organizational structure of IRM 1.11.6:
    Part 1 - Organization, Finance, and Management
    Chapter 11 - Internal Management Document System
    Section 6 - Using and Researching the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM)

Elements of an IRM Section

  1. Each IRM section contains the following elements:

    • Manual Transmittal

    • Table of Contents

    • Subsections (text)

    • Exhibits (optional)

    • Index (optional)

Manual Transmittal
  1. Each IRM section begins with a Manual Transmittal.

  2. The Manual Transmittal is a "cover sheet" for the IRM section that:

    1. Provides the revision and effective dates

    2. Describes the purpose

    3. Describes substantial changes from the prior revision

    4. Identifies new procedures

    5. Identifies the effect on other documents such as interim guidance or another associated IRM

    6. Identifies the audience of the IRM

    7. Identifies the authorizing official

  3. The Manual Transmittal is often used for historical purposes for research in tax court, audits, and employee reviews.

    Reminder:

    You can read the historical IRM to find out past procedures and their revision and effective dates. See IRM 1.11.6.4.3, Historical IRM, for information on the IRS Historical Research Library and obtaining copies of historical IRMs.

IRM Dates
  1. IRM content remains in effect until superseded or obsoleted by a subsequent IRM or other IMD.

  2. The various dates in the IRM are defined as follows:

    1. Manual Transmittal date is the revision date of the IRM.

    2. Effective Date is the date the IRM section is effective.

    3. Subsection date is the date the content in the subsection is effective.

Table of Contents
  1. The Table of Contents comes after the Manual Transmittal in each IRM section.

  2. View the Table of Contents to find the number and title for each IRM subsection and exhibit.

Subsections
  1. A subsection contains content. The content, procedural or informational, is displayed in a numbered paragraph. Depending on the complexity of the topic, up to five levels of additional subsections (subtopics) can be added to an IRM.

  2. Each subsection number is separated by a period. See the Table of Contents of any IRM section for an example of the subsection structure. Each subsection is accompanied by a title. Subsections are nested like an outline.

  3. A subsection consists of the following:

    1. Title - A description of the content in the subsection

    2. Number - Represents the Part, Chapter, Section, and Subsection

    3. Date - The date the subsection content is effective

    4. Text - Paragraphs, lists, tables and/or notes

  4. Subsections may also contain Figures. Figures are illustrations in a graphic or table placed within a subsection.

Exhibits
  1. Exhibits are illustrative graphics, tables, or text placed at the end of an IRM section. Exhibits are optional.

  2. Exhibits are numbered using a hyphen separating the Exhibit number from the section number. They are numbered consecutively.

    Example:

    Exhibit 1.2.3-1

Topical Index
  1. The IRM authoring tool, the software used to prepare the IRM, allows an IRM author to create a topical index to identify the content in the IRM section. This feature is optional.

Official Use Only (OUO) Content

  1. Sensitive content meeting the conditions under the FOIA exemptions is designated as official use only (OUO). Content is designated OUO when disclosure of the content could adversely affect the conduct of IRS programs or operations essential to administering the tax laws or the privacy of an individual. See IRM 11.3.12 for information about designating OUO content.

  2. When OUO content is included in the IRM it is clearly marked with pound or hashtag signs.

  3. It is important not to release information designated OUO to the public. To protect against accidental release when communicating with the public, use the version of the IRM on IRS.gov.

Providing Feedback About an IRM Section - Outside of Clearance

  1. You may give feedback on a specific IRM section by:

    1. Emailing the originating office outlining the issue including the IRM reference(s) and the recommended change(s).

    2. Clicking the IRM Online"Contact Us" link under Help to submit your feedback to the SPDER staff via email. SPDER will direct your email to the appropriate IRM office.

    3. Contacting the organization's Internal Management Document (IMD) coordinator. See SPDER’s IMD Contacts page. Select your Organization and then contact the employee listed as "IMD Coordinator."

    4. Clicking the SERP Feedback button at the top of the page on a SERP hosted IRM to submit your feedback to the SERP staff. The SERP staff will forward your feedback to the appropriate IRM office for consideration and response.

    5. Contacting the IRM author. For instructions, see IRM 1.11.6.6.1, How to Obtain an IRM Author's Name.

      Note:

      Instructions for handling recommended changes or clarifications to the IRM may be handled differently by some offices. Contact your lead or manager on the preferred method for submitting changes to the IRM.

  2. Feedback will be acknowledged and considered by authors regardless of how the request is submitted. When a recommended change is not adopted which could adversely affect your program, process or activity, you may elevate your change request through your management chain. For guidance on this process, see IRM 1.11.2.5.1.3, Respond to Requested IRM Changes.

    Note:

    The Employee Suggestion Program (ESP) is the only vehicle for receiving monetary compensation for suggestions at the IRS. See ESP website.

How to Obtain an IRM Author's Name

  1. Use the Product Catalog Information or IRM Numerical Index to locate the IRM author.

  2. To locate the author from the Product Catalog Information page:

    1. Go to the Electronic Publishing Product Catalog Information

    2. Select the drop down arrow under View by Product Title Search and change All to IRM

    3. Enter the IRM number in the Enter search word(s): box

    4. Click Submit

    5. Click the title of the IRM in the search results page.

    6. Find the Product Content Owner (IRM author) name and contact telephone number under Contacts

  3. To locate the author using the IRM Numerical Index:

    1. Go to the Electronic Publishing IRM Numerical Index

    2. Expand the IRM Part

    3. Click on the Cat. No

    4. Scroll down to Contacts

    5. Find the Product Content Owner (IRM author) name and contact telephone number

Other Documents Related to the IRM

  1. Certain documents influence or are influenced by the IRM. Descriptions of some of these documents follow.

Internal Revenue Code (IRC) and United States Code (USC)

  1. The U.S. Government publishes the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) as Title 26 of the United States Code (USC).

  2. You can research the IRC/USC through various research services contracted by the IRS.

    Note:

    You need an account to access these research services. To find your ID Administrator who can provide your access information, see Reference Net. Locate the product you need. Click on the respective link for assistance with IDs.

  3. You can also research the IRC / USC on the Government Printing Office (GPO), Cornell University, and U.S. House of Representatives websites.

    Note:

    These sites are not provided by IRS so first verify the accuracy and currency of the information.

Interim Guidance

  1. Interim guidance may temporarily supplement or update IRM content.

  2. To locate interim guidance supplementing an IRM, go to the applicable IRM section on IRM Online and navigate to interim guidance to obtain currently active interim guidance memoranda and SERP IRM Procedural Updates (IPUs). You can also search the IMD Tracking System for active interim guidance memoranda.

  3. Interim guidance meeting the conditions under FOIA, is located on the IRS.gov FOIA Library under Recent Interim Guidance to Staff by related IRM number.

Chief Counsel Directives Manual (CCDM)

  1. The CCDM contains instructions and guidelines that address the processes and activities of the Office of the Chief Counsel. The CCDM is available in PDF from the Electronic Publishing catalog page and an online version is accessible at CCDM Online.

  2. The structure and numbering of the CCDM, in Parts 30 through 39, is similar to the IRM.

Document 10988, Internal Revenue Manual Index

  1. Document 10988, Internal Revenue Manual Index, is a compilation of the IRM sections published by Media and Publications. The index is published semi-annually and produced monthly.

  2. The index provides the following information about each new, revised, and obsolete IRM section:

    • Revision date

    • Identifies IRM sections containing OUO information with an asterisk

    • Provides historical information (prior IRM number)

    • Organizational owners

    • User audience