- 13.1.7 Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Case Criteria
- 18.104.22.168 Introduction to Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Case Criteria
- 22.214.171.124 TAS Case Criteria
- 126.96.36.199.1 TAS Case Criteria 14, Economic Burden
- 188.8.131.52.2 TAS Case Criteria 5 7, Systemic Burden
- 184.108.40.206.3 TAS Case Criteria 8, Best Interest of the Taxpayer
- 220.127.116.11.4 TAS Case Criteria 9, TAS Public Policy
- 18.104.22.168 Exceptions to Taxpayer Advocate Service Criteria
- 22.214.171.124 Same Day Resolution by Operations
- Exhibit 13.1.7-1 General Response Time Guidelines
Part 13. Taxpayer Advocate Service
Chapter 1. Taxpayer Advocate Case Procedures
Section 7. Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Case Criteria
February 05, 2016
(1) This transmits revised IRM 13.1.7, Taxpayer Advocate Case Processing, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Case Criteria.
(1) Exhibit 13.1.7-1 Updated processing times for various issues due to IRM changes.
(2) Minor editorial, grammar and punctuation changes and updated IRM references.
Nina E. Olson
National Taxpayer Advocate.
While the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is continually working to serve customers in a quality manner, some taxpayers still have difficulty getting solutions to their problems or getting timely and appropriate responses to their inquiries. Per IRC § 7803(c), Congress established the office of the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) and its functions within the IRS to assist these taxpayers. TAS has identified criteria that qualify taxpayers for TAS assistance, which includes an independent review by a Case Advocate of actions that have been taken or need to be taken to resolve the problems taxpayers are experiencing. TAS Criteria 1-9 reflect situations requiring acceptance of taxpayer cases to be worked by TAS. TAS commonly refers to Criteria 1-4 as "economic burden" cases , Criteria 5-7 as "systemic burden" cases Criteria 8 as "Best Interest of the Taxpayer" and Criteria 9 as "Public Policy."
TAS Case Criteria should not be viewed as a means of excluding taxpayers from TAS, but rather, as a guide to TAS case acceptance. The criteria under which TAS accepts a case should not govern whether a taxpayer is entitled to relief. This list is a non-exclusive list of what constitutes economic and systemic burden.. Similarly, as discussed in IRM 13.1.20, TAS Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO) Process, the criteria under which TAS accepts a case does not govern whether TAS can issue a Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO).
As an independent organization within the IRS, TAS helps taxpayers resolve problems with the IRS and recommends changes to prevent future problems. TAS fulfills its statutory mission by working with taxpayers to resolve problems with the IRS. TAS case acceptance criteria fall into four main categories:
Economic Burden.. Economic burden cases are those involving a financial difficulty to the taxpayer: an IRS action or inaction has caused or will cause negative financial consequences or have a long-term adverse impact on the taxpayer.
Criteria 1: The taxpayer is experiencing economic harm or is about to suffer economic harm.
Criteria 2: The taxpayer is facing an immediate threat of adverse action.
Criteria 3: The taxpayer will incur significant costs if relief is not granted (including fees for professional representation).
Criteria 4: The taxpayer will suffer irreparable injury or long-term adverse impact if relief is not granted.
Systemic Burden. Systemic burden cases are those in which an IRS process, system, or procedure has failed to operate as intended, and as a result the IRS has failed to timely respond to or resolve a taxpayer issue.
Criteria 5: The taxpayer has experienced a delay of more than 30 days to resolve a tax account problem.
Criteria 6: The taxpayer has not received a response or resolution to the problem or inquiry by the date promised.
Criteria 7: A system or procedure has either failed to operate as intended, or failed to resolve the taxpayer’s problem or dispute within the IRS.
Best Interest of the Taxpayer. TAS acceptance of these cases will help ensure that taxpayers receive fair and equitable treatment and that their rights as taxpayers are protected.
Criteria 8: The manner in which the tax laws are being administered raises considerations of equity, or has impaired or will impair the taxpayer’s rights.
Public Policy. Acceptance of cases into TAS under this category will be determined by the National Taxpayer Advocate and will generally be based on a unique set of circumstances warranting assistance to certain taxpayers.
Criteria 9.. The National Taxpayer Advocate determines compelling public policy warrants assistance to an individual or group of taxpayers.
Criteria 1 -- The taxpayer is experiencing economic harm or is about to suffer economic harm. The economic harm may be the result of actions by the IRS or created as a result of circumstances in the taxpayer's personal life.
IRC § 7811(a)(2) outlines three examples of significant hardship that are categorized below as Case Criteria 2, 3 and 4. Economic Harm situations that require TAS's assistance but do not fall under these criteria will be captured under Case Criteria 1.
Be careful not to confuse "economic harm" with "economic hardship." The term "economic hardship" has significance in IRC § 6343, Authority to release levy and return property.
A taxpayer’s return has been selected for examination based on the claim for Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC). The taxpayer is expecting a $3,000 refund but cannot wait for the completion of the examination, as the taxpayer has a serious medical condition and no health insurance. She needs the money to pay for prescription drugs and nonelective surgery. This case should be accepted into the TAS program as a Criteria 1 case.
Criteria 2 -- The taxpayer is facing an immediate threat of adverse action. Most situations will involve an action by the IRS, such as filing a Notice of Federal Tax Lien, serving a Notice of Levy or seizing property.
Threat of adverse actions can also involve the taxpayer's personal situations, such as utility cutoffs or evictions. Such actions may result in negative financial consequences or economic burden to the taxpayer. A warning of impending action that will negatively impact the taxpayer is considered a "threat." An immediate threat is defined as an action that will take place in the very near future.
On June 15, the taxpayer came to TAS with an eviction notice stating that he will be evicted on July 1 if his rent is not paid. The taxpayer is awaiting a refund of $2,000 on his 2006 Form 1040 income tax return. This refund will pay in full his arrearage, thus preventing the eviction. This case would be accepted into the TAS program as a Criteria 2 case because the threat of adverse action exists (the eviction notice), and the threat is immediate (15 days).
Criteria 3 -- The taxpayer will incur significant costs if relief is not granted (including fees for professional representation). Situations where the IRS is unable to immediately make adjustments, process returns, release a lien, etc., could result in the taxpayer having to incur significant costs. Significant costs could include professional fees for representation.
The Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) will determine what constitutes significant costs based on the facts and circumstances of each case.
The IRS sends a corporation a notice requesting payment of an outstanding balance of employment taxes and penalties owed by the business. The notice indicates that the business has employment tax balances with respect to 12 employment tax quarters totaling $10,000. The business provides documentation to the IRS, which it contends that if all payments were correctly applied to each quarter, there would be no balance due. The IRS requests additional records and documentation. Because there are 12 quarters involved, to comply with this request the business asserts that it will need to hire an accountant, who estimates he will charge at least $5,000 to organize all the records and provide a detailed analysis of how to apply the deposits and payments. The business is facing significant costs.
Criteria 4 --The taxpayer will suffer irreparable injury or long term adverse impact if relief is not granted. This includes situations where a taxpayer may lose assets, income, or potential income if relief is not provided. Some situations include loss of the ability to be licensed or bonded as part of the taxpayer’s occupation, or loss of borrowing power or clients due to filing of a Notice of Federal Tax Lien. Other situations may involve damage to credit ratings resulting in denial of a loan.
The taxpayer has a lien on his property due to an outstanding tax liability. He is trying to refinance his mortgage, which would result in a lower monthly payment and would allow him to pay his outstanding tax liability. He has filed an amended return which would eliminate the tax liability. The amended return has been selected for examination, but no action has been taken. This case should be accepted into the TAS program as a Criteria 4 case.
Criteria 5 -- The taxpayer has experienced a delay of more than 30 days to resolve a tax account problem.
Where there is an established time frame for a specific action based on an IRM, IRS form, or other official document, Criteria 5 is met when the problem or inquiry is delayed more than 30 days beyond the normal response time for the particular action. . Refer to Exhibit 13.1.7-1 , General Response Time Guidelines, for established normal response times on various (not inclusive) issues.
A taxpayer files a 2012 individual income tax return with a Schedule C claiming business expenses. The taxpayer received a notice ten months ago that the return was selected for examination and provided the requested documentation. The taxpayer has received no further contact from the IRS which is a delay of more than 30 days beyond normal response time.
Where there is no established time frame for a specific action based on an IRM, IRS form, or other official document, Criteria 5 is met when the problem or inquiry is delayed more than 30 days after the initial date the taxpayer made a request for IRS assistance.
A taxpayer received an examination determination from a revenue agent. On January 10, the taxpayer wrote to the IRS, requesting an interest calculation so she could pay her account in full. On March 1, the taxpayer contacts TAS for the interest calculation because she has not received a response to her letter. Since more than 30 days have passed from January 10, Criteria 5 is met.
Criteria 5 is met when the IRS sends multiple interim responses and no other actions by the IRS have been taken. Interim letters can extend prescribed time frames unless the delay is extensive or unreasonable. Judgment should be used to determine if the operating division or function's delay is justified or whether it is an unwarranted delay.
A taxpayer writes to the IRS for an abatement of his federal tax deposit penalty on June 12. The taxpayer receives a response from the IRS on July 1, acknowledging receipt of his letter and informing him that it will be another 30 days before his inquiry can be answered. On July 27, the taxpayer receives another IRS letter stating that it will take an additional eight weeks for a reply. The TAS employee checks IDRS information and no action has been taken by the IRS on the taxpayer’s account other than sending the second interim correspondence. The taxpayer’s circumstances meet Criteria 5.
Delays due to taxpayer unresponsiveness will not meet Criteria 5.
A taxpayer writes to the IRS for an abatement of his federal tax deposit penalty on June 12. The taxpayer receives a response from the IRS on July 1, acknowledging receipt of his letter and requesting additional information by July 12 to abate the penalty. On July 27, the taxpayer receives another IRS letter with a second request for information. The taxpayer has not submitted any information for consideration. The taxpayer contacts TAS for assistance on August 1, stating the penalty has not been abated. The TAS employee checks IDRS and determines from the history items that multiple requests for information were sent to the taxpayer. The TAS employee asks if the taxpayer has received any contact from the IRS. The taxpayer states he did receive a request for more information but has not mailed it in. This circumstance does not meet Criteria 5. However, TAS should still explain to the taxpayer what information the IRS, in general, needs to make a penalty abatement.
Criteria 6 --The taxpayer has not received a response or resolution to the problem or inquiry by the date promised.
The taxpayer has been in contact with the Correspondence Examination unit at an IRS campus because of alleged unreported income. The tax examiner requested substantiation of the taxpayer’s basis of some stock transactions. The taxpayer sent the information five weeks ago. The taxpayer received IRS correspondence acknowledging receipt of the information. The IRS correspondence also indicated that a determination would be made and the taxpayer would be contacted by March 5. On March 7, the taxpayer contacts the NTA toll-free number for assistance. The inquiry is accepted into TAS as a Criteria 6 case because the taxpayer was not contacted by the promised date of March 5.
Criteria 7 -- A system or procedure has either failed to operate as intended or failed to resolve the taxpayer's problem or dispute within the IRS.
The IRS examined a taxpayer’s return in a prior year for EITC and subsequently allowed the credit. The taxpayer filed her subsequent year return and the IRS failed to issue her refund. The taxpayer contacts TAS for assistance. TAS determines the refund was held because the IDRS transaction code 810 indicator was never reversed, as it should have been. The taxpayer’s circumstances meet Criteria 7 because the IRS’s procedures for releasing a refund freeze failed to operate as intended.
A taxpayer writes to the IRS for an abatement of his federal tax deposit penalty and requests a credit elect to the next quarter. IRS abates the penalty, but the overpayment has not been credited to the next quarter. The taxpayer’s circumstances meet Criteria 7 because the IRS’s procedures for crediting overpayments failed to operate as intended.
Criteria 8 -- The manner in which the tax laws are being administered raise considerations of equity or has impaired or will impair the taxpayer’s rights. Although many TAS cases may generally involve equity considerations or impair taxpayer rights, Case Criteria 8 should only be used if the case does not fit into any other TAS case criteria. Thus, if a case can be accepted into any other case category (1 – 7 or 9), the case should not be accepted under Case Criteria 8.
A taxpayer seeks TAS assistance because a levy was issued prior to the taxpayer getting collection due process (CDP) rights and the taxpayer wants TAS assistance in getting the levy released because the taxpayer cannot pay for her basic living expenses with the levy in place. Although the taxpayer’s rights have been impaired because of the IRS’s failure to provide CDP rights, it would not be appropriate to classify the case as Criteria 8 because the taxpayer is also experiencing economic harm, and the case would meet Case Criteria 1.
RRA '98 § 1203(b)(3) addresses violations of taxpayers' constitutional or civil rights by an IRS employee. The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) has responsibility for investigating such alleged violations. If you believe a taxpayer's constitutional or civil rights were violated by an IRS employee, please refer to IRM 13.1.15, Customer Complaints / RRA98 Section 1203 Procedures .
Looking at the significant hardship requirement in Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 7811 may be useful in making a Criteria 8 determination. Section 7811 provides “the National Taxpayer Advocate may issue a Taxpayer Assistance Order if the National Taxpayer Advocate determines the taxpayer is suffering or about to suffer a significant hardship as a result of the manner in which the internal revenue laws are being administered by the Secretary. “ Treasury Regulation § 301.7811-1(a)(4), further explains that significant hardship means “a serious privation is caused or about to be caused to the taxpayer as the result of the particular manner in which the revenue laws are being administered by the IRS.” Thus, if a taxpayer is experiencing or about to experience a serious privation of taxpayer rights, then the case meets Criteria 8.
In considering whether a taxpayer is experiencing or about to experience a serious privation of taxpayer rights, consider whether any of the taxpayer’s rights have been impaired. These rights include:
The Right to Be Informed. Taxpayers have the right to know what they need to do to comply with the tax laws. They are entitled to clear explanations of the law and IRS procedures in all tax forms, instructions, publications, notices, and correspondence. They have the right to be informed of IRS decisions about their tax accounts and to receive clear explanations of the outcomes.
The Right to Quality Service. Taxpayers have the right to receive prompt, courteous, and professional assistance in their dealings with the IRS, to be spoken to in a way they can easily understand, to receive clear and easily understandable communications from the IRS, and to speak to a supervisor about inadequate service.
The Right to Pay No More than the Correct Amount of Tax. Taxpayers have the right to pay only the amount of tax legally due, including interest and penalties, and to have the IRS apply all tax payments properly.
The Right to Challenge the IRS’s Position and Be Heard. Taxpayers have the right to raise objections and provide additional documentation in response to IRS actions or proposed actions, to expect that the IRS will consider their timely objections and documentation promptly and fairly, and to receive a written response if the IRS does not agree with their position.
The Right to Appeal an IRS Decision in an Independent Forum. Taxpayers are entitled to a prompt and impartial administrative appeal of most IRS decisions, including many penalties, and have the right to receive a written response regarding the Office of Appeals’ decision. Taxpayers generally have the right to take their cases to court.
The Right to Finality. Taxpayers have the right to know the maximum amount of time they have to challenge the IRS’s position as well as the maximum amount of time the IRS has to audit a particular tax year or collect a tax debt. Taxpayers have the right to know when the IRS has finished an audit.
The Right to Privacy. Taxpayers have the right to expect that any IRS inquiry, examination, or enforcement action will comply with the law and be no more intrusive than necessary, and will respect all due process rights, including search and seizure protections and will provide, where applicable, a collection due process hearing.
The Right to Confidentiality. Taxpayers have the right to expect that any information they provide to the IRS will not be disclosed unless authorized by the taxpayer or by law. Taxpayers have the right to expect appropriate action will be taken against employees, return preparers, and others who wrongfully use or disclose taxpayer return information.
The Right to Retain Representation. Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford representation.
The Right to a Fair and Just Tax System, Including Access to the Taxpayer Advocate Service. Taxpayers have the right to expect the tax system to consider facts and circumstances that might affect their underlying liabilities, ability to pay, or ability to provide information timely. Taxpayers have the right to receive assistance from the Taxpayer Advocate Service if they are experiencing financial difficulty or if the IRS has not resolved their tax issues properly and timely through its normal channels.
If any of these rights have been impaired and no other case criteria fits, it would be appropriate to accept the case under Criteria 8. If no rights have been impaired, next consider the equities. If the action the IRS is taking is not equitable, a case can also be classified as Criteria 8.
Criteria 9 -- The NTA determines compelling public policy warrants assistance to an individual or group of taxpayers. The NTA has the sole authority for determining which issues are included in this criterion and will so designate by memo at least annually.
The NTA determined inquiries related to organizations where the IRS automatically revoked their tax-exempt status because the organization did not file an annual return or notice for three consecutive years met this criteria.
There are certain cases that should not be accepted into TAS:
The taxpayer’s complaint or inquiry only questions the constitutionality of the tax system.
The focus of the taxpayer's inquiry solely involves frivolous tax strategies intended to avoid or delay the filing or paying of federal taxes.
Generally, IRS and TAS will refer taxpayers meeting TAS criteria 5-7 (systemic burden) who seek assistance with an identity theft issue to the Accounts Management Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU) (see IRM 126.96.36.199, Identity Theft Assistance Request (ITAR) - General Information,Identity Theft Assistance Request (ITAR) and IRM 188.8.131.52.7, Criteria 5-7 Identity Theft Cases Eligible for Referral to Identity Protection Specialized Unit (IPSU).
Beginning October 1, 2011, TAS will generally not accept the following types of inquiries that fall within Systemic Burden Criteria 5-7:
Processing of Original Returns;
Processing of Amended Returns; and
Injured Spouse Claims.
In these four categories of cases, processing delays typically arise either because the affected functions are overloaded with work or because of systemic processing glitches. Assuming these processing delays do not create an economic burden, TAS’s role is typically limited to issuing an Operations Assistance Request (OAR) to the appropriate function to advocate for resolution of the taxpayer’s problem, providing updates to taxpayers, and looking for patterns of delay to identify systemic problems.
There are two notable exceptions under which TAS will continue to accept Systemic Burden cases involving the four processing issues identified above:
TAS will continue to accept all cases referred by congressional offices.
TAS will continue to accept all cases involving the issues listed above when the taxpayer’s inquiry is related to other issues for which TAS may advocate, such as an open examination or collection action that a refund from, or the processing of, the amended or original return or claim would resolve.
The following examples illustrate these guidelines:
Facts: The normal processing time for a Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is approximately eight to 12 weeks. The taxpayer filed 2010 Form 1040X more than four months ago expecting a refund and has no other outstanding issues with examination or collection. Because of the IRS delay in processing the amended return, the taxpayer's circumstances meet TAS Criteria 5. Under the new guidelines, refer the taxpayer to the appropriate IRS function for resolution and do not establish a TAS case.
Assume the same facts as in Example 1, except that the case has been referred by a congressional office. Establish a TAS case.
Assume the same facts as in Example 1, except that the taxpayer has an outstanding balance for tax year 2009 and has been receiving IRS collection notices. The taxpayers' expected refund would fully pay the balance due and leave the taxpayer with a small refund. Accept the taxpayer’s inquiry and establish a TAS case because facilitating the processing of the amended return will resolve an open collection issue.
Problems that meet TAS criteria do not necessarily need to be sent to TAS when an operating division or function can immediately resolve them. It is important that all IRS employees handle potential TAS cases with the taxpayer's best interest in mind. The definition of "Same Day Resolution" is "within 24 hours" . The following two situations meet the definition of "Same Day Resolution:"
The issue can be resolved within 24 hours.
The IRS takes steps within 24 hours to resolve the taxpayer's issue.
Cases that can be resolved on the "Same Day" should not be referred to TAS unless the taxpayer makes the request. Before referring potential cases to TAS, the following guidelines will be applied:
A case meeting TAS criteria may be retained in the general program area when the problem has been corrected or will be resolved immediately (within 24 hours) to the taxpayer's satisfaction, or resolution is undertaken (within 24 hours) AND
The taxpayer is advised of the name, phone number, and unique identification number of the employee who resolved the problem, AND
The NTA toll-free number, 1-877-777-4778, is provided and the taxpayer is advised that TAS is available if the resolution is not satisfactory.
|Issue||IRM Reference||Processing Time|
|Account Referral Form 4442 / e-4442||184.108.40.206.2||30 Days from Receipt|
|Adjustment / Math Error Notices||220.127.116.11||See Specific Math Error|
|Audit / Collection Adjustment Overpayment (CP210)||18.104.22.168.94||2 to 5 Weeks|
|Collection Adjustment Balance Due (CP220)||22.214.171.124.95||2 to 5 Weeks|
|Copy of Audit Report||126.96.36.199.4||60 Days|
|Copy of CP 2000 / 2501 / 2893C||188.8.131.52.59||60 Days|
|Correspondence to the Accounts Management||184.108.40.206.4||30 Days|
|Credit Transfer Overpayment (CP62)||220.127.116.11.43||2 to 4 Weeks|
|DDIA Changes in CSCO||18.104.22.168.5.13.2||72 hours from Receipt (3 business days)|
|Form SS-4 Submitted by Mail||22.214.171.124.6.1||4 Weeks|
|Form SS-4 Submitted by Fax||126.96.36.199.7.2||4 Business Days|
|Form SS-4 Submitted by EIN Toll-Free Telephone Service||188.8.131.52.5.1||Immediately|
|Form SS-8||184.108.40.206.23||180 Days from Receipt|
|Form W-7 / W-7A||Instructions||6 Weeks (8 to 10 weeks during peak processing periods of January 15 through April 30)|
|Form 3911||Form||6 Weeks|
|Form 4506 - Copy of Return||Instructions||60 Days|
|Form 4506 - Copy of W-2||Instructions||60 Days|
|Form 8379 Attached to Original Return||Instructions||14 Weeks|
|Form 8857||Instructions||6 Months|
|-A Freeze (Amended Returns)||220.127.116.11.2||16 Weeks|
|-D Freeze||18.104.22.168.8||75 Days|
|E Freeze||22.214.171.124.9||6 Weeks from Control|
|S Freeze||126.96.36.199.3||4 to 6 Weeks|
|T Freeze||188.8.131.52.38||None Provided|
|INTST Payoffs by Phone||184.108.40.206.2||Add 10 Days to Date TP States Payment will be made|
|INTST Payoffs by Mail||220.127.116.11.2||Add 21 Days to Date TP States Payment will be made|
|Refund from Paper Return||18.104.22.168||6 to 8 Weeks|
|Refund from ELF Return||22.214.171.124||3 Weeks|
|Refund from Form 1040X||126.96.36.199||16 Weeks|
|Response from Taxpayer to Underreporter||188.8.131.52.1||30 Days|
|Unpostable is Open||184.108.40.206.3||6 to 8 Weeks|
|Unpostable is Closed||220.127.116.11.4||6 Weeks|