- 13.1.9 Executive Correspondence Case Procedures
- 188.8.131.52 Introduction
- 184.108.40.206 Introduction (SFC) Case Procedures
- 220.127.116.11.1 How SFC Cases are Received
- 18.104.22.168.2 SFC Case Processing Procedures
- 22.214.171.124.2.1 SFC Case Assignment
- 126.96.36.199.2.2 SFC Initial Case Actions
- 188.8.131.52.2.3 Subsequent Actions on SFC Cases
- 184.108.40.206.2.4 SFC Case Pre-Closing Actions
- 220.127.116.11.3 Independent Review Process-SFC Cases
- 18.104.22.168.4 SFC Case Closing Actions
- 22.214.171.124 Executive Control Management System (ECMS) Case Procedures
- 126.96.36.199.1 ECMS Control Principles
- 188.8.131.52.2 ECMS Case Processing
- 184.108.40.206.3 ECMS Closing Actions
- 220.127.116.11.4 Congressional ECMS Cases
- 18.104.22.168 National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA)-HQ Cases
- 22.214.171.124.1 NTA-HQ Case Control Principles
- 126.96.36.199.2 NTA-HQ Case Assignment
- 188.8.131.52.3 NTA-HQ Case Processing
- 184.108.40.206.4 NTA-HQ Case Closing Actions
- Exhibit 13.1.9-1 Taxpayer Account Operations Briefing Transmittal
Part 13. Taxpayer Advocate Service
Chapter 1. Taxpayer Advocate Case Procedures
Section 9. Executive Correspondence Case Procedures
In September 1997, the Senate Finance Committee (SFC) held hearings on allegations of IRS abuse of taxpayers and their rights. The hearings were widely publicized and were covered on television, radio, and in newspapers and focused on stories from taxpayers concerning employee intimidation, harassment, and employee misconduct. The hearings encouraged taxpayers that felt mistreated by the IRS to come forward.
The Chairman of the SFC made it his mission to work with the IRS to ensure that taxpayer's rights are protected. A team was developed in the Taxpayer Advocate Service Headquarters Office to work with the Chairman and the SFC staff. The team was named the Senate Finance Committee Task Force. The National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) initiated the task force to develop procedures, review SFC cases, control the work, and monitor the project's success.
The task force worked with Taxpayer Advocates in the districts and campuses, taxpayers, and the Senate Finance Committee's Office to resolve taxpayers' complaints and problems. The NTA also charged the task force with identifying the underlying causes of these problems and determining why they were not addressed at the earliest possible opportunity.
In December 1998, the NTA decided that the SFC task force would become a permanent function within the IRS NTA Office. As of March 1, 1999, a permanent staff was hired and reported for duty. The SFC task force became the SFC Program, permanently located within the Taxpayer Account Operations Office. A program analyst under the Director, Taxpayer Account Operations in Headquarters is assigned to coordinate the SFC program.
The IRS Commissioner and the NTA requested a "Special Review Team" visit some sites that had SFC cases. The accuracy, tone, and overall case processing elements of these cases needed improvement. The offices that worked these cases needed guidance and procedures on how to best work and report on these cases.
The Commissioner and the NTA met with the SFC Chairman and the staff to discuss the negative feedback the Chairman was receiving from the constituents. The NTA agreed to make procedural changes to ensure everything that could be done for taxpayers was considered and no case would be closed until all actions were completed. The independent review process was established to review SFC cases.
The Chairmanship of the Senate Finance Committee changes as the majority in the Senate changes. Therefore, procedural changes may need to be made to accommodate the requests of the Ranking Majority Chairman and staff.
A taxpayer writes to the Senate Finance Committee regarding a tax matter or the behavior of an IRS employee. The SFC office determines if the correspondence should be referred to the TAS for resolution. The SFC office informs the taxpayer by letter that the correspondence will be forwarded to TAS within 14 days unless the taxpayer objects to the referral. If the taxpayer does not object, the correspondence is forwarded to the National Taxpayer Advocate for review. If the taxpayer objects to the LTA handling his or her case after receiving the acknowledgment letter, the SFC analyst, in Taxpayer Account Operations, will contact the Area Director to request the case be worked by a member of the ATA staff or by another local TAS office.
The National Taxpayer Advocate will read the incoming correspondence of the taxpayer, as well as the concerns expressed in the cover letter sent by the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The NTA will forward the correspondence along with any concerns to the SFC program analyst in the Taxpayer Account Operations office.
The SFC program analyst in the Taxpayer Account Operations office date stamps incoming correspondence and researches the Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS), the Executive Correspondence Management System (ECMS) and the Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System (TAMIS). The SFC program analyst will determine the appropriate office where the case will be worked. Refer to IRM 220.127.116.11.3, Exceptions to Transfers .
The SFC program analyst will prepare and send an acknowledgement letter to the taxpayer advising receipt of the correspondence from the SFC and provide the address and phone number of the Advocate's office where the case is assigned. If the taxpayer objects to the LTA handling his or her case after receiving the acknowledgment letter, the SFC analyst, in Taxpayer Account Operations, will contact the Area Director to request the case be worked by a member of the ATA staff or by another local TAS office. The SFC program analyst will also prepare an acknowledgement letter to the Chairman of the SFC, for the signature of the NTA. A copy of the acknowledgement letter sent to the taxpayer will be enclosed with the letter to the Chairman.
SFC Cases are governed by the general case processing rules detailed in IRM 13.1.7, Taxpayer Advocate Case Processing, in addition to the special guidelines in this section.
Once the SFC program analyst determines which TAS office will work the case, the analyst will control the case on TAMIS and ECMS. The correspondence and the acknowledgment letter will be scanned into ECMS. If necessary, copies of the correspondence and any related documents will be shipped by overnight or priority mail. The SFC program analyst will maintain a copy of the taxpayer correspondence in headquarters and will associate a copy of the final letter upon closure. A SFC case is identified on TAMIS taxpayer screen by a "21398" in the local use field and a "10" in the special case field on the taxpayer screen. The ECMS control number will be added to TAMIS Taxpayer Screen in the ECMS field. The TAMIS case file number will be added to ECMS using the other identification number field. After the case has been created on TAMIS and ECMS, the SFC analyst will transfer the case to the office that will work the case. The LTA or manager then assigns the case and updates TAMIS to the assigned employee number. SFC cases will be assigned to Senior Associate Advocates (SAAs), Analysts or management staff members.
Upon receipt, review the SFC case and IDRS, conduct any other necessary research and request all necessary internal documents, such as administrative files, tax returns, open or closed Taxpayer Delinquency Account (TDA) records, etc. Research ECMS to determine if additional correspondence has been received by TAS from other congressional offices. Input complete updates and histories on TAMIS. In addition, enter the history highlights on ECMS.
Within 7 calendar days of date of the TAS' acknowledgment letter (3 workdays if criteria 1–4):
Make initial contact with the taxpayer. The purpose of the initial contact is to clarify the issues, provide your name, employee number, telephone, and fax numbers and the office hours you are available. Whenever possible, make initial contact by telephone. If it is not possible to contact the taxpayer by telephone, document the reason on TAMIS and send a letter on or before the 7th calendar day from the date on the TAS acknowledgment letter (3 workdays if criteria 1–4). To be considered timely, the letter should be mailed on or before the7th calendar day (3rd workday for criteria 1–4) . The letter should state what the issues are and should ask the taxpayer to contact the TAS office if s(he) believes the issues are not correct. Establish and inform the taxpayer of the next contact date (NCD) and/or estimated completion date (ECD).
When appropriate, suspend all notices and any IRS enforcement actions. Be sure to extend STAUPS, ACS holds, and contact revenue officers as needed. If you are unable to suspend a notice or enforcement action prior to issuance, notify the taxpayer immediately.
Establish an IDRS control on the affected account(s).
If additional information is needed from the taxpayer to assist in resolving the tax problem, request it at the time of initial contact (if the information needed is known). State why the additional information is needed and give the taxpayer a specific date to provide the additional information. If contact is by telephone, negotiate a reasonable due date with the taxpayer.
When the issues are beyond the expertise of the assigned employee, solicit the assistance of a Technical Advisor after discussion with the employee's manager. See IRM 18.104.22.168, Contacting the Technical Advisor.
If you request additional information from the taxpayer and do not receive it by the requested date, contact the taxpayer by telephone, if possible.
If the taxpayer states the information requested was already mailed, wait an additional 5 workdays. If additional time is needed, provide the taxpayer with another contact date (NCD).
If the information is not received after the 5th workday or later documented date, contact the taxpayer again and request that a second copy of the information be mailed or faxed. Send a letter to the taxpayer to follow-up your telephone request unless the taxpayer indicates it will be faxed or mailed within 2 days. The letter will serve to document and verify your request. State what the probable outcome of the case will be if the taxpayer does not provide the information. Update TAMIS with all actions taken and all information received both orally and in writing.
If the taxpayer states that he or she needs more time to provide the requested information, grant a reasonable period of time and update TAMIS. If the taxpayer states that it is not possible to provide the additional information;
Work the case with the available information
Explain to the taxpayer the consequences involved in resolving the issue without the information requested.
Establish and inform the taxpayer of a NCD or ECD.
Record each new NCD or ECD on TAMIS.
When you receive the information needed to resolve the case, take the action(s) within your authority.
Consult or negotiate with Operating Division or Functional Unit contacts to resolve taxpayer issues beyond your authority. See 22.214.171.124, Referring Cases & Operations Assistance Request (OAR) Process for more information on this issue.
If you and Operations cannot agree on the resolution, forward your documented case and recommendation to your manager. If appropriate, issue a TAO. Follow procedures outlined in 126.96.36.199, Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO) Process.
Update TAMIS with any actions taken within the time frames noted in IRM 13.1.7, Taxpayer Advocate Case Processing.
Before you close a case, review your action plan to ensure all actions have been completed and all related issues addressed. If the resolution of your taxpayer's problem will impact a non-related taxpayer, you must also address the non-related taxpayer's issue to completely resolve the TAS case.
You are responsible for providing the taxpayer or representative with a clear, complete and correct explanation of what was done to resolve the problem. A written response is required and should:
Address all balance due, refund and adjustment situations. Include specific dollar amounts of the balance due, refund and adjustments including interest and penalty accruals, as of a specific date.
Include an explanation that would educate the taxpayer if it appears (s)he does not understand what caused the problem.
If appropriate, have an explanation of preventative actions.
Give "recourse" to an unsatisfied taxpayer if (s)he indicates that the resolution does not provide what the taxpayer requested (Recourse includes such things as speaking to a manager or being provided with appeal rights).
Have an apology specific to the taxpayer's concern.
The case file must be documented with all actions taken and must include copies of all closing correspondence. All taxpayer correspondence must remain in the file.
The following actions need to be completed before you forward your case for review:
Adjustments must be posted (not pending) — Check CC IMFOL/BMFOL
Retain a copy of applicable returns in the file, but remove any original returns and send them to be refiled. In situations that require a TC 290 for .00 for a refiled DLN, the transaction does not have to post before closing.
Forward any new Powers of Attorney to the CAF unit for input and retain a copy in the file. (Notate on the copy that the original was sent/faxed to the CAF Unit and the date it was sent or attach a copy of the FAX confirmation.)
The assigned TAS employee will prepare a draft closing letter for the signature of the National Taxpayer Advocate and forward the draft closing letter to the local or servicing TAS Technical Advisor Independent Review Team for review. The closing letter will not be dated or mailed at this time.
The Independent Review Team (IRT) will review SFC cases and their corresponding draft closing letters within 7 calendar days of receipt. Technical Advisor teams in each area will conduct the independent review process using developed guidelines. However, neither the LTA nor any Technical Advisor who worked on the case will be allowed on the review team.
SFC Independent Review Team Criteria
An independent review from the perspective of an advocate.
The letter states that an independent review was conducted.
A technically and procedurally correct conclusion.
All issues addressed.
All IRS errors acknowledged.
Where appropriate, alternative solutions considered and explained.
Employee complaints addressed.
Appropriate tone used in response.
Sufficient documentation (Would a third party from outside the IRS be able to determine what happened? Why?)
Documentation supports the conclusion/resolution reached.
Documentation shows corrective actions completed.
SAA or Technical Advisor's name, title, address, employee ID number, phone number, fax number and tour of duty in the letter.
An appropriate apology is provided.
Taxpayer contact was made by telephone if telephone number was available (In cases where telephone contact was not made, the reasons why telephone contact was not possible are fully documented).
The case file contains documentation (IDRS printouts, etc.) that all promised actions were taken.
Upon completion of the IRT case review, the IRT will do one of two things:
If the IRT agrees with the closing letter and how the case was worked, the letter will be forwarded to the SFC program analyst along with a copy of the file by overnight express for approval and signature by the NTA.
If the IRT does not agree with the closing letter, the IRT will contact the SAA to discuss any areas of concern and agree upon necessary actions.
A draft cover letter addressed to the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee for the signature of the NTA will be prepared by the SFC program analyst and forwarded to the NTA with the draft closing letter prepared.
The case will be closed on TAMIS when the letter is signed by the NTA. A copy of the signed closed letter will be faxed back to the assigned case advocate.
When closing the case on TAMIS ensure the issue codes, complexity code, TAO/Relief code, customer satisfaction code are correct. Enter one of the following codes in the Local-Use field on the TAMIS Case Screen:
The determination as to which code to use is based on the actions that occurred after the date of the taxpayer's letter to the SFC. The purpose of the code is to determine if the change is a result of the taxpayer's letter to the SFC.
CODE DETERMINATION d No Change (No Change from previous IRS Determination) l No Change — Law (Law Prevents Change) f Full Change p Partial Change
The ECMS coordinator will scan the closing letter into ECMS and close the ECMS case.
Close IDRS control bases.
Release any notice or enforcement holds.
ECMS is considered the Servicewide control system for controlling correspondence from members of Congress and taxpayers. The controlling office could be one of several National Office functions. Currently, the four predominantly controlling offices in the National Office are the following:
Controlling Office Responsibility Telephone Number Commissioner's Correspondence Office Controlling correspondence addressed to the Commissioner/ Deputy Commissioners and White House referrals. Correspondence is received from several sources (taxpayers, government agencies, employees, businesses and Treasury). (202) 622-9570 National Taxpayer Advocate Controlling correspondence addressed to the Advocate's office. (202) 622-4300 Legislative Affairs (Correspondence Unit) Controlling congressional correspondence addressed to the Commissioner, Legislative Affairs Office and Treasury referrals from the Office of the Executive Secretary and Treasury's Legislative Affairs. (202) 622-3730 Control and Analysis Office Controlling correspondence addressed in general to the Internal Revenue Service - when no particular office or person is listed. (202) 622-7026
Controlled correspondence encompasses a broad range of correspondence, memoranda, reports and other actions that have an impact on IRS policy and procedures and require coordination.
Controlled correspondence can include the following types:
Other government agencies
Freedom of Information Act Requests (FOIA)
Internal IRS Memoranda
Each TAS office will have access to ECMS and at a minimum, two trained employees on the ECMS system.
ECMS controls should be checked daily by each office for new receipts and to ensure time frames are kept current.
All TAS ECMS controls should be identified, printed by the ECMS contact person in each office and date stamped.
All TAS ECMS cases should be controlled on TAMIS. The TAMIS case file number should be annotated in the "Other ID NO:" section of the ECMS ticket.
The ECMS ticket number should be input in the TAMIS problem description field.
Cases are to be worked under general guidelines in IRM 13.1.7, Taxpayer Advocate Case Processing.
ECMS cases are transferred to the local TAS office based on the taxpayer's zip code.
Before transferring a control to another office, verification should be made by calling the office to which you are transferring the case. When transferring the control, do not close the ECMS ticket. Reassign the ticket to the correct office.
At no time should a control be reassigned to an office within two workdays of the due date without an interim action being taken.
If an ECMS case has not been closed by the ECMS due date, the due date must be updated to reflect a new due date. ECMS contact person will require the following information before updating ECMS:
Requested new due date (cannot exceed 30 calendar days from current due date)
Method used to inform taxpayer of the current status of the case (letter, phone contact)
If interim letter is sent, a hard copy of the correspondence, or a copy of the Word document via E-mail, should be provided for the ECMS contact person to scan/attach to the ECMS ticket.
Justification for the needed extension
TAMIS history must be updated with extension contact information and new NCD.
Additional guidelines relating to correspondence are contained in the IRS Correspondence Manual and IRM 1.10.1.
Follow the guidelines in IRM 13.1.7, Taxpayer Advocate Case Processing, to determine when it is appropriate to close the case.
If closing contact by telephone, detailed documentation addressing all the taxpayer's issues must be input on ECMS.
If closing contact is written, the closing letter should be given to the ECMS contact person in the appropriate office to be scanned or attached to the ECMS ticket.
All tax account related ECMS inquiries that meet TAS criteria are subject to the same standards as any other TAS criteria case and will be part of the Quality Review sample.
Correspondence sent to the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) are reviewed by the NTA. The NTA may request a briefing or provide observations or request information on these cases. These cases are identified as NTA-HQ cases.
After identification as an NTA-HQ case by the National Taxpayer Advocate, the case is transferred to the appropriate TAS office to be worked.
All NTA-HQ cases are controlled on TAMIS. On TAMIS, the literal "NTAHQ" is added to the "N.O. Use" field on the Taxpayer Screen.
Members of Taxpayer Account Operations Staff will contact the Area Taxpayer Advocate (ATA) and the Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) to advise that a NTA-HQ case has been initiated. A copy of the correspondence and observations, or action(s) requested will be forwarded to both offices.
The office of Taxpayer Account Operations assign cases to a TAS office through TAMIS.
Cases are assigned within two workdays from the date the Taxpayer Account Operations office receives the information from the National Taxpayer Advocate.
The staff of Taxpayer Account Operations will provide assistance to the LTA and/or case advocate.
Cases are worked under general guidelines in IRM 13.1.7, Taxpayer Advocate Case Processing.
The Taxpayer Account Operations staff transfers the NTA-HQ case based on the location of the taxpayer, the interests of the taxpayer, prior case activity, open controls and the location of centralized IRS work processes.
The Local Taxpayer Advocate will review all written responses and ensure adherence to quality standards on tax account related inquiries.
A briefing document will be completed for each case. See Exhibit 13.1.9–1, Taxpayer Account Operations Briefing Transmittal. The briefing transmittal is reviewed by the LTA before faxing to the staff of the Taxpayer Account Operations.
A draft closing letter may be needed for the NTA signature if requested. Guidance from the Taxpayer Account Operations staff is available in these circumstances.
Once the final letter is approved, a copy is sent from Taxpayer Account Operations to be filed with the case in the field.