13.1.8 Congressional Affairs Program

Manual Transmittal

October 08, 2021

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 13.1.8, Taxpayer Advocate Case Procedures, Congressional Affairs Program.

Material Changes

(1) 13.1.8.1 - Program Scope and Objectives, was added to comply with internal control requirements.

(2) 13.1.8.1.1(1) - Added paragraph about the Taxpayer Bill of Rights update based on guidance from the Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel (National Taxpayer Advocate Program) and Branch 3 of the Associate Chief Counsel (Procedure and Administration).

(3) IRM 13.1.8.2 (6) - Added paragraph discussing specific authorities for congressional outreach requirements.

(4) IRM 13.1.8.2 (7) - Added paragraph discussing strong advocacy as a tool to maintain professional relations with congressional offices and referencing IRM 13.1.24, Advocating for Case Resolution.

(5) IRM 13.1.8.6 (12) - added a new paragraph discussing the responsibility of the LTA to keep the Congressional Screen updated on TAMIS.

(6) IRM 13.1.8.7 (5) - Added a note clarifying that faxes to Congressional offices must be proper letters and not just quick fax cover sheets.

(7) IRM 13.1.8.7 (6) – Added paragraph making it a requirement that a copy of correspondence sent to a congressional office must also be sent to the taxpayer.

(8) IRM 13.1.8.7 (7) – Added paragraph making it a requirement that a copy of correspondence sent to a congressional office must also be sent to the authorized representative.

(9) IRM 13.1.8.7 (8) - Added paragraph making it a requirement that the correspondence should be attached to the TAMIS case.

(10) IRM 13.1.8.8 (7) – Modified paragraph to include instructions that case advocate must inform authorized representative of congressional inquiry and copy the authorized representative on congressional correspondence. Before the modification, the contact with the authorized representative was optional.

(11) IRM 13.1.8.8 (8) added requirement that if disclosure authorization was not clear and specific regarding the representation of both spouses, a separate authorization is needed for each spouse.

(12) IRM 13.1.8.8 (11) – Added paragraph that TAS does not accept electronic signatures on Privacy Release Forms.

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM supersedes IRM 13.1.8 dated 04-04-2017.

Audience

Taxpayer Advocate Service employees

Effective Date

(10-08-2021)


Bonnie Fuentes
Executive Director Case Advocacy – ITS

Program Scope and Objectives

  1. Purpose: This section provides instructions and procedural guidance to Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) employees who are working on congressional cases. It is also designed to encourage TAS employees to consider the issues from the taxpayer’s perspective and act with empathy as they work to resolve the taxpayer’s case.

  2. Audience: These procedures apply to TAS employees dealing with congressional offices.

  3. Policy Owner: The Executive Director Case Advocacy, Intake and Technical Support (EDCA-ITS), who reports to the Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate (DNTA).

  4. Program Owner: The Director, Technical Analysis and Guidance (TAG), who reports to the EDCA-ITS.

Background

  1. The Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) lists rights that already existed in the tax code, putting them in simple language and grouping them into 10 fundamental rights. Employees are responsible for being familiar with and acting in accord with taxpayer rights. See IRC 7803(a)(3), Execution of Duties in Accord with Taxpayer Rights. For additional information about the TBOR, see https://www.irs.gov/taxpayer-bill-of-rights. Under these rights is the taxpayer’s right to retain representation, including representation from a congressional office.

  2. TAS plays a key role in the Congressional Affairs Program (CAP). TAS employees work closely with congressional offices to resolve tax issues and advocate for their constituent taxpayers.

Authority

  1. Pursuant to IRC 7803(c)(2)(A)(i), TAS is directed to assist taxpayers in resolving problems with the IRS.

  2. IRC 7803(a)(3), directs the Commissioner of the Internal Revenue to ensure that employees of the IRS are familiar with and act in accordance with taxpayer rights. The ten enumerated rights of the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) include the Right to Retain Representation.

  3. IRC 6103 requires that returns and return information be kept confidential, unless disclosure is authorized by law.

  4. The Treasury Regulations found in 26 CFR 301.6103(c)-1 allows the use of non-written consents for disclosure of taxpayer information to third parties if the circumstances described in the regulations are met.

  5. IRM 11.3.4.2, Disclosure to Members of Congress, provides the guidance on disclosure of taxpayer information to members of Congress.

Responsibilities

  1. TAS employees must respect, support, and vigorously protect taxpayers’ fundamental right to retain representation.

  2. TAS managers are responsible for ensuring TAS employees within their purview are following the procedures contained in this IRM.

Programs Objectives and Review

  1. Reports to monitor the quality of TAS cases including the proper handling of congressional inquiries are derived from the Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System (TAMIS) and the TAS Quality Review Program (QRP).

    • The QRP generates monthly, quarterly, and fiscal year cumulative reports as well as specific queries for data analysis.

Terms

  1. Exhibit 13.1.8-2 contains a list of terms used throughout this IRM.

Acronyms
  1. Exhibit 13.1.8-3 contains a list of acronyms and their definitions used throughout this IRM.

Related Resources

  1. This is a list of relevant IRMs and other resources TAS case advocacy employees will use in conjunction with this IRM:

    • IRM 11.3.4.2, Disclosure to Members of Congress

    • IRM 13.1.5.6, Communicating Confidentiality Rules to Taxpayers and Taxpayers’ Representatives

    • IRM 13.1.16.8.6, Congressional Office Contacts

    • IRM 13.6.1.13.6, E-mail Restrictions

    • IRM 13.6.1.12.3, Congressional Outreach

    • TAS Program Letter

    • TAS Outreach Hub

Introduction to Congressional Affairs Program

  1. TAS plays a key role in the Congressional Affairs Program. The Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) will coordinate the CAP along with the IRS Congressional District Liaison (DL) in each geographic area.

  2. The LTA will have responsibility for all tax account related issues, primarily constituent casework and advocacy.

  3. The DL will have responsibility for any non-tax account related inquiries and for communicating IRS policy and procedures. The DL will deliver IRS messages through outreach or liaison efforts.

  4. The LTA and DL will coordinate congressional visits, outreach activities, and hosting congressional staff liaison meetings. Congressional visits may be separate, depending on the nature of the visit, but must be coordinated.

  5. LTAs are responsible for building and maintaining professional relationships with local congressional offices through effective outreach. Congressional outreach requirements are covered in IRM 13.6.1.12.3, Congressional Outreach.

  6. Yearly expectations for congressional outreach are contained in IRM 13.6.1.12.3.1, Local Congressional Office Visit Requirements and IRM 13.6.1.12.3.2, Washington DC Congressional Office Visit Requirements. Further information is found in the TAS Program Letters. See also IRM 1.4.13.1.6.1(f), Related Resources, and IRM 1.4.13.8.3, Outreach.

  7. LTAs and local office case advocates and managers are responsible for building and maintaining professional and amicable relationships with local congressional offices through diligently advocating for the constituent cases in their inventory. This means adhering to the time frames in the IRM for contacts and follow ups as well as the guidelines set forth in IRM 13.1.24, Advocating for Case Resolution.

  8. LTAs are responsible for updating the Congressional Screen with their respective congressional information on TAMIS.

Control Principles

  1. Tax account related congressional inquiries received by TAS will be added to TAMIS within one workday of receipt. If an inquiry does not qualify under acceptance criteria 1-8, follow current interim guidance on accepting cases under TAS case criteria 9, Public Policy, which specifically includes congressional account inquiries. Interim guidance is published annually and can be found on the TAS Intranet. See Interim Guidance on Accepting Cases Under Criteria 9, Public Policy and IRM 13.1.7.2, TAS Case Criteria.

    Exception:

    General telephone inquiries from a congressional office that can be answered while on the line phone do not require that a case be created in TAMIS but do require the creation of a Contact Record in TAMIS.

  2. Assign congressional inquiries that are not associated with an existing case with the same issue to the LTA office that is aligned with the congressional district that initiated the inquiry. The LTA office/congressional district alignment includes both the local and campus offices. See the LTA office/congressional district alignment list on the Congressional page. SeeCongressional District Alignment.

  3. Cases requiring normal campus assistance should be worked through the Operations Assistance Request (OAR) process. Functions should work all controls assigned to them by Legislative Affairs (LA) on e-trak.

  4. Taxpayer correspondence noted as having a carbon copy (cc) sent to a congressional office will not be treated as a congressional inquiry. See IRM 13.1.8.8, Disclosure.

  5. When responding to congressional offices in writing, do not delegate signature authority below the LTA on TAS cases. See IRM 13.1.8.7, Congressional Letter Writing.

  6. All congressional inquiries received by Business Units (BUs) in the National Office are forwarded to LA for review and control on e-trak.

    Exception:

    The National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) will control and assign inquiries addressed to that office.

Assignment and Routing

  1. Tax account related inquiries will be assigned to TAS. These cases may require assistance and cooperation from BUs on complex issues, and will be worked via the OAR process. The DL or LA office will work non-tax related inquires, depending on the issue involved.

  2. Establish only one control on TAMIS if a congressional inquiry addresses a tax account issue as well as a non-tax account issue. TAS will attempt to resolve the taxpayer account and coordinate resolution on the non-tax account issue.

  3. The following tables provide directions for assigning congressional inquiries, and consider the impact of section 1203 of the IRS Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98).

    TAX ACCOUNT RELATED NON-TAX ACCOUNT RELATED NATIONAL OFFICE NON-TAX ACCOUNT RELATED
    Assign to Taxpayer Advocate (Controlled as Criteria Code 1-9) Route to IRS Congressional District Liaison Route to Legislative Affairs
    1. All tax account related congressional inquiries. 1. IRS employee complaints about routine personnel actions that have not yet gone through the system, or local issues that fall under local union agreement or Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). 1. Personnel actions that have gone through the system but are still unresolved.
    2. An inquiry from a taxpayer that contains both a tax account and a non-tax account issue will stay with TAS. 2. Complaint about an unidentified IRS employee that isn’t an RRA 98 §1203 violation. If employee is identified or if the complaint is an RRA 98 §1203 violation, route to Legislative Affairs. 2. All IRS hardship transfer requests.
    3. Tax law / Technical specific to an account issue or request for opinion or ruling. 3. Tax law / Technical questions and issues that don’t involve a taxpayer's account. 3. IRS employee reporting or alleging impropriety, RRA 98 §1203 violation, ethical issues.
      4. Reorganizations for locations of offices. 4. Agency practices, procedures, and policies.
    TAS EXAMPLES DL EXAMPLES LA EXAMPLES
    IRS denied EITC Who can claim EITC? EITC is welfare
    IRS employee has hardship and needs refund IRS employee wants a parking space near office IRS employee misuse of government time
    Trouble understanding notice received IRS employees are rude and misinformed Employee who can be identified gave taxpayer's return information to neighbor
    IRS levied prematurely Where is my closest Collection office? Constitutionality issues
    Why was frivolous filer penalty assessed? Frivolous filer penalty is unconstitutional Frivolous filer penalty and constitutionality have previously been explained and taxpayer isn’t satisfied
    Where is my refund? How long does it take to receive an e-filed refund? IRS should provide e-file to everyone
    IRS employee didn't receive refund Employee concerned POD closing due to reorganization Employee concerned about reorganization issues previously negotiated in local offices
    Offset based on bad data, need help getting it back What are the rules for injured spouse? Offset law unfair

Case Processing

  1. In general, congressional cases are worked like other cases, including the general guidelines in IRM 13.1.18, Processing TAS Cases. However, see IRM 13.1.17.5, Exceptions to TAS Case Transfers, for information about transferring congressional cases.

Congressional Office Inquiries Received by TAS

  1. Upon receipt of an inquiry from a congressional office:

    1. Date stamp the request if written or faxed. If the request is received via fax and the received date is shown, there is no need to separately date stamp the request.

    2. Research e-trak, TAMIS, or IDRS to identify the issues involved and the appropriate office to which to assign the inquiry.

    3. Control the inquiry on TAMIS (see below for unique input items).

    4. Work tax-related inquiries in the LTA office aligned with the congressional district that initiated the inquiry. The LTA office/congressional district alignment includes both local and campus offices. See the LTA office/congressional district alignment list on the congressional page of the TAS intranet site. If, under unusual circumstances, a transfer is necessary, fax the documents to the assigned office or express-mail them if they require the taxpayer’s original signature(s).

    5. Forward non-tax related inquiries to the DL, who will decide whether to work the case or forward it to LA for assignment if it is national in scope. LA assigns these inquiries in e-trak to the appropriate BU to prepare a response. The BU works all cases assigned by LA.

    6. Attempt to reach the congressional staff by telephone to acknowledge receipt of the inquiry. See IRM 13.1.18.3, Initial Contact. Contact the congressional office for permission to respond to the taxpayer directly.

    7. Each congressional inquiry and subsequent inquiries will be controlled on TAMIS. If more than one congressional office contacts TAS to assist the same taxpayerwith the same issue, an additional case will not be created. Instead, add an additional Congressional Record screen with the additional congressional office’s information to the existing case; therefore, there will not be separate TAMIS cases for each congressional contact. Refer to TAMIS User Guide, Congressional Screen.

    8. Timely resolution and the best interest of the taxpayer should always be the deciding factors when determining the office responsible for any needed actions. Consistent information and correspondence must be given to the congressional office(s) and the taxpayer. Refer to IRM 13.1.8.7, Congressional Letter Writing, for procedures for responding to congressional inquiries.

  2. See IRM 13.1.8.8, Disclosure Issues, addressing the requirements about the Congressional Authorization to receive information.

Congressional Inquiries Received by Legislative Affairs and Routed to Local TAS Office

  1. Upon receipt of a congressional inquiry on e-trak from LA:

    1. Control the case on TAMIS (if not already controlled on TAMIS).

    2. Annotate the TAMIS case file number in the "Other ID NO:" section of the e-trak ticket. If a prior TAMIS/e-trak case exists, annotate this information in the HISTORY/COMMENTS section of the e-trak control ticket. Include the TAMIS case file number, name and telephone number of the case advocate assigned to the case.

    3. The receiving office should immediately contact the congressional office to advise the staff of the assignment of the inquiry to the TAS office. This requirement to notify the congressional office of the assignment cannot be neglected. Follow time frames established in IRM 13.1.18.3, Initial Contact.

    4. TAS needs to use the standard congressional letter template when responding to congressional offices. See IRM 13.8-1, Sample Congressional Letter.

       

      Note:

      Although case advocates are not required to give the independence statement if there is an established relationship between the advocate and staffer, case advocates should notate the independence statement on the TAMIS history. This does not eliminate the requirement that the statement be included in all written congressional correspondence.

    5. If an e-trak congressional assignment from National Office is sent to an office in error, the office should immediately (within one workday) transfer the case to the correct office with a detailed explanation of why the case should be transferred. Before transferring, be sure the time frame for congressional acknowledgment has not passed. If the case is not transferred within one workday, then the office will be responsible for making the congressional acknowledgment before transferring the case.

    6. Take appropriate actions and timely document e-trak and TAMIS. Extension requests must be input to e-trak and TAMIS with a detailed explanation of the reasons for an extension. These requests should be input prior to the actual due date. National Office approval is not required unless specifically requested by the controlling office.

    7. The Executive Secretariat Correspondence Office (ESCO) must review the written response to an e-trak controlled congressional case before it is issued. E-mail the incoming letter and the draft response letter to ESCO at *Executive Secretariat E-Review for review. Include the e-trak control number in e-mail.

    8. Make appropriate corrections to letter once it is returned by ESCO.

    9. Secure the appropriate signature and send the closing letter.

    10. Scan the final closing letter signed by the LTA into e-trak. Close the e-trak control and close the case on TAMIS. Update histories on both e-trak and TAMIS.

    11. Enter the date of the closing contact, either by correspondence or telephone, on the congressional screen of TAMIS. Refer to TAMIS User Guide, Congressional Screen.

    12. Written responses are not mandatory unless requested by the congressional office. Telephone closures are acceptable. Document on TAMIS and e-trak the details of the phone call that closed the case. Include the date of the call and the name of the person you spoke to in the congressional office.

    13. These cases are subject to the TAS quality review guidelines (e.g., timeliness of contacts and actions, accuracy of actions, authorized disclosures and correct communication, etc.).

    14. In the closing paragraph, the NTA/LTA must include his/her contact telephone number.

      Example:

      A suggested closing paragraph is "I hope this information is helpful. If you have any questions, please contact me at (XXX) XXX-XXXX."

    15. If the letter is to a taxpayer, RRA 98 provides identification requirements for all employees working tax-related matters. Your letter should include your name, your job title and your unique employee identification number (10-digit Smart ID badge number). The case advocate employee number should be included if the case advocate is referenced as a contact person in the letter. See IRM 13.1.2.4.1, Identify Yourself.

    16. Do NOT include hours of availability or operation in congressional responses. Do NOT use pattern letters. On all congressional correspondence, use the approved method for incorporating your local address within the letter. See Exhibit 13.1.8-1, Sample Congressional Letter, for an acceptable letter template.

      Note:

      If a congressional case (not on e-trak) already exists and you receive a non-congressional e-trak case from the same taxpayer, the e-trak case must remain open until the issue is resolved. If the cases are assigned to two different offices, the two case advocates must coordinate efforts.

Congressional Inquiries Involving Litigation Issues

  1. Inquiries received from congressional offices that involve issues under litigation, follow the guidance found in IRM 13.1.10, Special Processes. If guidance is needed, the LTA should contact the Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel National Taxpayer Advocate Program. IRM 13.1.10.2, Obtaining Legal Advice from Chief Counsel.

TAMIS

  1. All congressional inquiries will be controlled on TAMIS within one workday of receipt, except for:

    1. Inquiries (other than written) that can be answered immediately during the call. For these inquiries, employees will create a Contact Record rather than a case in TAMIS.

    2. Courtesy copies (copies of letters addressed to someone other than the member of Congress with cc: member’s name) of written responses to congressional offices. These will NOT be treated as congressional inquiries unless actually referred by a congressional office.

    3. Non-case-related inquiries that will be worked by the DL or sent to LA for control and assignment on e-trak. The LA cases should not be controlled on TAMIS by the receiving office but instead faxed to the DL. If LA assigns the case to TAS as the BU, then follow procedures in IRM 13.1.8.5.2, Congressional Inquiries Received by Legislative Affairs and Routed to Local TAS Office.

  2. When an inquiry is received from a congressional office, the Congressional Screen on TAMIS must be input as well as the Taxpayer Screen, including Power of Attorney information, if applicable. Refer to TAMIS User Guide, Congressional Screen, for TAMIS input requirements.

  3. Use the Taxpayer Screen to record the taxpayer data.

  4. If the case is controlled on e-trak, input the e-trak control number in the e-trak Control # field (Taxpayer Screen 5) of TAMIS.

  5. If the congressional inquiry was addressed to the BU and the BU referred the case, input "0" in the first Outreach field, and "00" in the second Outreach field to indicate the request did not come directly from the taxpayer. Input "20" in the second Outreach Field on Taxpayer Screen 1 to indicate the taxpayer’s inquiry was received in TAS from a congressional office. If a congressional inquiry was addressed to TAS or there was a request for TAS assistance, input "1" or "2" in the first Outreach field and "20" in the second Outreach field.

  6. Use the appropriate criteria code when inputting the congressional inquiry on TAMIS. All TAS congressional inquiries should be coded 1 – 8, or if the NTA has identified the issue as a compelling public policy issue, as code 9.

  7. Use Taxpayer Screen 5 on TAMIS in the "How Received" field to indicate how the congressional inquiry was received into TAS.

    1. Use an "X" to identify a congressional inquiry addressed or sent to operations/functions/units other than TAS.

    2. Use a "Y" to identify a congressional inquiry addressed or sent directly to the NTA, Deputy Executive Director of Case Advocacy (DEDCA), or LTA.

  8. Use the congressional screen of TAMIS to input the congressional office contact information.

  9. Check the "Disclosure Release Received" box on the congressional screen if the congressional office has appropriate disclosure authorization.

  10. When there is an existing case (non-congressional) and a congressional inquiry is received concerning the same taxpayer with the same issue and the same TAS employee in the same office will work the case, an additional case will not be created. If more than one congressional office contacts TAS to assist a taxpayer with the same issue and the same TAS employee in the same office will work the case, do not create another case on TAMIS., In both instances, add a Congressional Record screen for each additional congressional office to the existing case.

    Note:

    Casework Procedures (for example: initial contact, next contact date, and follow up dates) still apply for each congressional office with the case. See IRM 13.1.18, Case Processing.

  11. If any of the above requirements are not met: same issue, same office, and same TAS employee assigned, an additional case should be opened in TAMIS. Code the congressional inquiry with the appropriate criteria code (1-9). On the congressional TAMIS case, input DUPTA in the N.O. Use field on the TAMIS Taxpayer Screen 5. The congressional case will be worked in the LTA office of the member of Congress’ home state. If the cases are assigned in two different offices, the two case advocates must coordinate efforts, but each office will be responsible for responding to its local congressional office staff.

    Note:

    TAMIS allows duplication of history to other cases. Refer to IRM 13.4, TAS TAMIS Guide, for information on how to automatically duplicate the TAMIS history from one case to another. Initial and closing actions, including follow-up dates and next contact dates, should be entered on each case.

  12. The LTA is responsible for updating the Congressional Lookup Table on TAMIS. The LTA will update information when a representative or senator is no longer in office (due to death, retirement, removal from office due to election defeat or other reasons) and will provide the name and contact number of the new Congressperson. For instructions on updating the Congressional Lookup Table, see TAMIS User Guide, Congressional Lookup Table.

Congressional Letter Writing

  1. IRM 1.10.1.14, Format for Responses to ESCO Controlled Correspondence, and IRM 1.10.1.15, Variable Elements for ESCO Controlled Correspondence, provides instructions for preparing responses to congressional inquiries and should be used to supplement regular instructions for TAS case processing. Refer toExhibit 13.1.8-1, Sample Congressional Letter, for an example of writing style, format, headers, and salutation to follow in written correspondence to congressional offices.

  2. The LTA will review and sign ALL written correspondence, including interim correspondence, to congressional offices, and ensure adherence to quality attributes on tax account related congressional inquiries.

    Note:

    If you do not receive requested information from the taxpayer or congressional office, do NOT send a second request pattern letter (1671 Letter). Instead, contact the congressional office for help securing the requested information from the taxpayer and discuss any information necessary to work and resolve the issue. If the taxpayer still fails to provide documentation, then close the case as No Response and send the congressional office a final communication to explain the circumstances. For example: "As we discussed on MM/DD/YYYY, TAS is unable to pursue further relief for your constituents because they have not responded to our requests for the supporting documentation we need to proceed with the case. If your constituents can provide this information later, we would be happy to reopen the case."

  3. Signature authority cannot be delegated below the NTA/DEDCA/LTA or the responsible official, unless the individual has been officially designated to act on their behalf. For example, when an LTA delegates a group manager to act as the LTA, that manager may sign the written response as the acting LTA.

  4. Do NOT include hours of availability or operation in congressional responses. Do NOT use pattern letters. On all congressional correspondence, use the approved method for incorporating your local address within the letter.

  5. Communication that involves a specific tax case, taxpayer, or is account related can NOT be sent to a congressional office by email. This correspondence must be sent through the mail or by fax. TAS will follow existing guidance in IRM 11.3.1.14.2, Electronic Mail and Secure Messaging, which prohibits the use of email to communicate with taxpayers or their representative, including congressional offices, when the email contains Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information. See IRM 10.8.1.4.14.1.1, Sensitive but Unclassified Information, IRM 11.5.2, Congressional Affairs Program and IRM 11.5.2.7.6, Email/Fax Inquiries.

    Note:

    TAS offices can never use fax cover sheets to communicate with a congressional office, even if the LTA signs the cover sheet. TAS requires formal correspondence with congressional offices to demonstrate our professionalism and respect for our elected government representatives. If a congressional office cannot wait for TAS to mail information, then the LTA can sign a congressional letter prepared as required and TAS can fax the letter and attachments to the congressional office with a TAS fax cover sheet used purely as a transmittal document. See IRM 13.1.6.4 (8), Written Communication

    .

  6. A copy of the correspondence should be sent to the taxpayer if the taxpayer has authorized direct communication.

  7. A copy of the correspondence should be sent to the authorized representative. See IRM 13.1.23.4, Practice Before the IRS/TAS.

  8. Attach a copy of the correspondence to the TAMIS case. See IRM 13.1.11.2.1, Document Attachments.

Disclosure Issues

  1. IRC 6103(c) permits disclosure of a taxpayer’s return or return information to a third party designee. See IRM 13.1.23.2, Taxpayer’s Right to Retain Representation. A taxpayer’s letter to a member of Congress will authorize disclosure to the extent it is signed, dated, and indicates the following:

    1. Taxpayer’s identity: name, address, and identifying number (e.g., Social Security number/ individual taxpayer identification number/ employer identification number),or any combination thereof, which enables the IRS to clearly identify the taxpayer.

    2. The identity of the person to whom disclosure is to be made. A letter addressed to "Dear Sir" that does not specifically refer to the member of Congress is not sufficient. However, the taxpayer’s letter, forwarded with the envelope showing it was addressed to the member of Congress, is sufficient.

    3. The letter must contain sufficient facts to enable the IRS to determine the nature and extent of the assistance requested and the returns or return information to be disclosed. See IRM 1.10.1.13, Disclosure Information and IRM 11.3.4.2.1, Inquiry Accompanied by Taxpayer’s Correspondence.

    4. The congressional office may substantiate valid authorization by submitting Form 8821 (or a satisfactory facsimile) with all required information included and the taxpayer’s signature and date.

  2. An authorization to a member of Congress will be construed to include a member of the Congressperson’s staff designated in the Congressperson’s inquiry, identified in a general designation from the Congressperson, or known to be the Congressperson’s staff person for dealing with constituents’ tax inquiries. Likewise, an authorization to a staff member of the Congressperson in their capacity as staff member handling constituent inquiries includes the Congressperson as well. Should the Congressperson become incapacitated or die in office requiring a long-term actor or designee to be appointed to fill the term, authorizations can be construed to remain in effect for that Congressional office. If there is any doubt that the taxpayer would want continuing disclosures in these situations, contact the taxpayer to determine his or her wishes.

  3. Typically, TAS should not accept congressional cases subsequent to the congressional member vacating office until a new member is elected (vacating the office also includes instances when a congressional member dies). However, if the Office of the Clerk for the United States House of Representatives or the Assistant Secretary of the Senate issues a letter stating the congressional office would continue assisting taxpayers, renames the office and officially names the Clerk or Assistant Secretary as the supervisor, TAS may continue to receive and work cases from that office. TAS must receive proper authorization from the taxpayers to disclose information to that office as outlined in IRM 13.1.8.7, Disclosure Issues and IRM 11.3.4.2.1, Inquiry Accompanied by Taxpayer Correspondence. If there is any doubt the taxpayer would want continuing disclosures in this situation, contact the taxpayer to determine their wishes.

  4. Copies of letters addressed to someone other than the member of Congress ("cc" letters) do not authorize the IRS to disclose returns or return information to a member of Congress or staff. An exception to this rule will be made when the taxpayer includes a signed addendum requesting the assistance of the member who forwarded the correspondence to the IRS, and the letter otherwise meets the above requirements for valid disclosure authorization. Also, as in IRM 13.1.8.8 (1)(b) above, a signed, dated "cc" letter, not a photocopied signature, forwarded with the envelope showing it was addressed to the member of Congress, is sufficient.

  5. Absent written authorization from the taxpayer, the member of Congress or his/her staff person may be provided general information and advised when IRS considers the matter resolved. However, no disclosures of the constituent’s returns or return information may be made. In that case, resolve the problem by communicating directly with the taxpayer and advise the congressional office that this was done.

  6. Whether responding directly to the taxpayer at the request of a congressional office, or to the congressional office, check command code "CFINK" on IDRS for power of attorney or written authorization information.

  7. TAS will work with the congressional office on congressional cases; however, in order to protect the Right to Retain Representation, the Case Advocate should let the POA or authorized third party know of the inquiry and copy them on any written response sent to the congressional office.

  8. If the congressional office has appropriate disclosure authorization, check the "Disclosure Release Received" box on the congressional TAMIS screen. If the disclosure authorization clearly specifies that the congressional office has the authority to represent both spouses (who are clearly named in the authorization), then one authorization will suffice. If the disclosure authorization is not clear and specific about the authority to represent both spouses, then a separate disclosure authorization is needed for each spouse.

  9. The effective period of authorization generally continues for the tax periods and issues covered by the original disclosure consent even after TAS closes the case and a subsequent inquiry requires TAS to reopen the case. The original consent is valid for the reopened case if it covers the same years and congressional office. A valid disclosure consent does not have an expiration date unless the taxpayer revokes it. Follow the procedures in IRM 13.1.21.3, Reopening Cases, to reopen the case.

  10. See IRM 1.10.1.13, Disclosure Information for all disclosure considerations for working with congressional offices.

  11. TAS will accept electronic signatures on the Privacy Release Form (such as symbols or other data in digital form attached to an electronically transmitted document as verification of the sender’s intent to sign the document).

  12. TAS should not leave any account information on voice messages left for congressional offices.

Closing Actions

  1. Follow the guidelines in IRM 13.1.21, TAS Case Closing and Reopen Case Procedures, to determine when to close the case. TAS will communicate with the congressional office throughout the process unless the office requests that TAS work with the taxpayer directly, or determines it no longer wishes to stay involved. The office staff will also determine if telephonic closure is acceptable. These requests from the congressional office must be documented in the TAMIS history for the case.

    Note:

    Even though the congressional office is no longer involved in the case, the TAMIS coding should still reflect "Congressional" for tracking purposes.

  2. All tax account related congressional inquiries are subject to the same attributes as any other TAS criteria case and may be selected for quality review.

  3. An apology must be given on TAS criteria cases, including congressional inquiries that meet the criteria. The following IRM sections address apologies:

    1. IRM 13.1.6.5, Apology - Just saying TAS is sorry for any inconvenience it has caused is not a sincere apology. State why we are apologizing.

    2. IRM 13.1.18.3, Initial Contact - Advise the taxpayer of your name, job title, address, telephone number, office hours, and employee identification number. Apologize, if appropriate.

  4. If an apology is clearly not appropriate, address the reasons in the TAMIS history.

  5. Close the case on TAMIS by completing all case screens, including the closing action screen and the Congressional Screen.

    Reminder:

    Complete the Closed Date field on the Congressional Screen on TAMIS.

Congressional Inquiries on Frivolous Filers

  1. If you receive a congressional frivolous filer inquiry that has no tax account related issue, send the inquiry to the DL. For general information on responding to congressional inquiries, see IRM 1.10.1.14, Format for Responses to ESCO Controlled Correspondence, and IRM 1.10.1.15, Variable Elements for ESCO Controlled Correspondence.

Sample Congressional Letter - DC or Local Office

This sample shows the proper format for a congressional letter, as follows based on office location. It should be copied into the TAS LTA letterhead showing the current logo and other information.

Position Example
House of Representatives
Washington, DC Office
The Honorable (Full Name)
U.S. House of Representatives
Washington, DC 20515
Dear Representative (Last name):
House of Representatives
Local Office
The Honorable (Full Name)
Member, U.S. House of Representatives
(Local office street address) (City) (State) (ZIP Code)
Dear Representative (Last Name):

Note:

If the Member, U.S. House of Representatives is too long, carry over part of it to the next line and indent 2 spaces. This will give the inside address a more balanced appearance

Attention: Name of Staffer

Dear Representative XXX:

I am responding to your letter of (date) to Commissioner of Internal Revenue _____ _________ on behalf of your constituent, Mr. John Beagle of (constituent’s city/town). Mr. Beagle had expressed concern about (description of issue), and the Commissioner referred this issue to the Taxpayer Advocate Service for independent review.

We have (description of resolution / status of case). I apologize for the problem and for any inconvenience and delay it caused Mr. Beagle.

I hope this information is helpful in responding to Mr. Beagle. If you have any questions, please call me at XXX-XXX-XXXX, or Case Advocate John Doe of my staff at XXX-XXX-XXXX.

Sincerely,

(signature)




(name)

Local Taxpayer Advocate

Terms

Terms Definitions
e-trak Document tracking application which replaced the Executive Control Management System
Operations Assistance Order Conveys a recommendation or request that the IRS act to resolve when TAS lacks the statutory or delegated authority to resolve a taxpayer’s problem.
Privacy Release Form Authorization form used by congressional offices that allows TAS to communicate with offices about taxpayer information and case.
Quality Review Program (QRP) TAS uses QRP to review cases for quality. QRP generates monthly, quarterly, and fiscal year cumulative reports as well as specific queries for data analysis.
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 be told that if they cannot afford representation, they may be eligible for assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.
Taxpayer Advocate Management System (TAMIS) TAS uses TAMIS to record, control and process cases and to analyze the issues that bring taxpayers to TAS.

Acronyms

Acronyms Definitions
BU business unit
CAP Congressional Affairs Program
DEDCA Deputy Executive Director Case Advocacy
DL District Liaison
EDCA-ITS Executive Director Case Advocacy - Intake and Technical Support
EITC Earned Income Tax Credit
ESCO Executive Secretariat Correspondence Office
IDRS Integrated Data Retrieval System
IRC Internal Revenue Code
IRM Internal Revenue Manual
IRS Internal Revenue Service
LA Legislative Affairs
LTA Local Taxpayer Advocate
MOU Memorandum of Understanding
NTA National Taxpayer Advocate
POD Post of Duty
QRP Quality Review Program
RRA 98 Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998
SBU Sensitive but Unclassified
TAG Technical Analysis and Guidance
TAMIS Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System
TAS Taxpayer Advocate Service
TBOR Taxpayer Bill of Rights