1.11.6 Using and Researching the Internal Revenue Manual (IRM)

Manual Transmittal

July 28, 2017


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

Material Changes

(1) IRM, Program Scope and Objectives. This IRM section adds program management and relevant internal control information.

(2) IRM, How the IRM is Used. Added Department of Justice attorneys to the table, as a reader of the IRM.

(3) IRM, Using the IRM. Moved definitional and background information about the IRM and placed it in under the relevant topics under Program Scope and Objectives.

(4) IRM, Commercial Services. Removed information in (former) paragraph (2) as IRS eliminated contracts for the commercial DVD.

(5) IRM, Internal Revenue Manual DVD. Clarified the note to inform employees that this product is a helpful tool but doesn’t house the current, complete IRM.

(6) IRM, IRM Online. Updated the list of tools and features to include search capability by part and chapter and expanded the description of each feature and tool by displaying in a table.

(7) IRM, Topical Index. Changed the title and removed paragraph (2) which provided an example of an IRM section that contains a topical index, viewable only from a paper version.

(8) IRM, Providing Feedback About an IRM Section. Updated the title in paragraph (2) to reflect the title in IRM, Respond to Requested Changes.

(9) IRM, Document 10988, Internal Revenue Manual Index. Updated information on the frequency of publishing Document 10988, which is quarterly.

(10) Reviewed the links in the IRM, revised content for clarity and made minor editorial changes throughout.

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 1.11.6, dated May 29, 2015, is superseded.


All IRS employees

Effective Date


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

    • Members of the public, including attorneys, Certified Public Accountants (CPAs), enrolled agents and taxpayers.

  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: Director, SPDER.

  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: http://spder.web.irs.gov/officeinfo/contact/


  1. In 2000, 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.


  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 for IMD authorities and legal obligations.

  2. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), at 5 USC 552(a)(2)(c), requires each agency to maintain and make available for public inspection and copying a current index providing identifying information for the public. The redacted IRM and the Document 10988, IRM Index, posted on IRS.gov, fulfill this requirement.

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 in administering IRS obligations.

Related Resources

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

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

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

  4. Training: ELMS 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 (IMDs)

    • 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 which 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
    • Ability to review the IRM to support issues raised in a court case or for other research needs

    • All IRM sections

    • Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) information

    • All IRM sections (redacted)

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 Basic Organization.

    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 state of the IRS organization through functional statement IRMs for every IRS Division and Function. See IRM 1.1, Organization and Staffing.

    5. Provides step by step instructions to carry out laws enacted by Congress per the Internal Revenue Code (IRC), Treasury Regulations, and Revenue Rulings.

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, 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 Redacted Intended Audience For more information
    Commercial Research Services Yes IRS Employees IRM
    Electronic Publishing Website No IRS Employees IRM
    Historical IRM No IRS Employees IRM
    Internal Revenue Manual DVD Yes IRS Employees away from an IRS network connection IRM
    IRM on IRS.gov Yes Public IRM
    IRM Online No IRS Employees IRM
    Paper IRM No IRS Employees IRM
    Servicewide Electronic Research Program (SERP) No IRS Employees IRM
  3. IRM content may be superseded by interim guidance. See IRM, Interim Guidance, for instructions to locate interim guidance updates to the IRM.

Commercial Research Services

  1. The IRS contracts with several commercial research services. Many of these research services provide a redacted version of the IRM on their sites. The commercial versions of the IRM hyperlink to referenced sources. See ReferenceNet for information on accessing these tools.

  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 Product Catalog Information page 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

    • Revision date

    • Catalog Number

    • Product description

    • Electronic Availability (PDF files dating back to 1997)

    • Distribution information

    • Points of contact (publishing analyst, distribution analyst and originator)

  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 also sign up to receive an email notification when a revised IRM section is updated. See IRM, 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 form, notice, document, IRM, etc., 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

    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 Electronic Availability tab

  3. To manage your email notification subscription:

    1. Go to the Publishing website at Product Catalog Information Page

    2. Locate and click on Manage My Subscriptions

    3. Subscribe to or unsubscribe from desired publications

Historical IRM

  1. To access or research prior versions of the IRM, check the IRS Historical Research Library. 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

  3. Copies of these documents may be delivered in PDF, hardcopy, or fax. The delivery method depends on the requested product.

  4. Visit the Library's website, or contact by email at IRMLibrary@irs.gov.

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.


    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). 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 under 5 USC 552.

  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.


    Check the effective date of the IRM sections posted on IRS.gov, as they may have a future effective date. IRM sections are posted to IRS.gov when they are published. Also see IRM, Interim Guidance, by Business Unit on IRS.gov 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.

  4. IRS.gov has an Advanced Search feature that allows you to limit your search to the Internal Revenue Manual.

  5. Redacted IRM source files can be downloaded from IRS.gov. Scroll down to the bottom of the Index page to access the IRM source files.

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.
    Help feature 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, Library (historical IRM), SERP, or IRS.gov version 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.


    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 Electronic Reading Room on IRS.gov. All IRM sections posted on SERP that contain IPUs must be updated and published annually.

  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.


    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. Describes substantial changes from the prior revision

    2. Identifies new procedures

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

    4. Provides the revision and effective dates

    5. Identifies the audience of the IRM

    6. Identifies the authorizing official

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


    You can read the historical IRM to find out past procedures and their revision and effective dates. See IRM, 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 follows 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.

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

  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, similar to 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.

  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.


    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 10.2.13 for information about handling and protecting OUO content.

  2. When OUO content is included in the IRM it is clearly marked with pound 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 at http://www.irs.gov/irm/index.html.

Providing Feedback About an IRM Section - Outside of Clearance

  1. You may suggest additions or corrections to the published IRM for the author or program owner's consideration in any of the following ways:

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

    2. Click 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. Contact the organization's Internal Management Document (IMD) coordinator. See http://spder.web.irs.gov/imd/Resources/IMDContacts.asp and select your Organization and under Role, select IMD "Coordinator" .

    4. Click 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. Contact the IRM author. For instructions, see IRM, How to Obtain an IRM Author's Name.


      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, Respond to Requested IRM Changes.


    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 Number and change Form to IRM

    3. Enter the IRM number in the Enter product suffix (sch d): box

    4. Click Submit

    5. Find the Originator (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 Originator (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 US 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.


    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.


    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 Interim Guidance on IRM Online for active interim guidance memoranda.

  3. Interim guidance meeting the conditions under FOIA, 552(a)(2)(C) is located on the IRS.gov Electronic Reading Room under Recent Interim Guidance to Staff webpage 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 http://irm.web.irs.gov/ccdm/.

  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 produced quarterly.

  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

    • IRM author

    • User audience