13.1.22 Manual Inventory Balancing Procedures

Manual Transmittal

October 29, 2019

Purpose

(1) This transmits revisions to IRM 13.1.22, Taxpayer Advocate Service, Taxpayer Advocate Case Procedures, Manual Inventory Balancing Procedures.

Material Changes

(1) IRM 13.1.22 was revised to incorporate the procedures contained in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Internal Revenue Service, Taxpayer Advocate Service and the National Treasury Employees Union that addresses the Inventory Management Alignment Initiative.

(2) Editorial, formatting, grammar, clarification, and revision date changes were made throughout the document.

(3) This IRM was reorganized to improve clarity.

(4) IRM 13.1.22.1, added Program, Scope and Objectives, internal controls and renumbered all remaining subsection.

(5) IRM 13.1.22.2, removed references to implementation of national workload balancing (N-WLB) on May 5, 2006. N-WLB has been in place for many years and is no longer new.

(6) IRM 13.1.22.3, with implementation of the MOU, N-WLB will now occur Monday to Friday instead of Wednesday to Tuesday. Added definition of small office for clarity.

(7) IRM 13.1.22.6, with implementation of the MOU, N-WLB will now occur Monday to Friday instead of Wednesday to Tuesday. Updated to provide guidance on cases remaining in an office after Transfer Guidelines to apply Zip Code Routing on all cases. Clarified that cases referred from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) and Schemes are not eligible for N-WLB. Updated based on the updated Transfer guidelines implemented with the MOU.

(8) IRM 13.1.22.7, clarified the necessity for transferring cases timely and with implementation of the MOU, N-WLB will now occur Monday to Friday instead of Wednesday to Tuesday.

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM supersedes IRM 13.1.22, Taxpayer Advocate Service, Taxpayer Advocate Case Procedures, Manual Inventory Balancing Procedures dated January 19, 2016.

Audience

Taxpayer Advocate Service employees.

Effective Date

(10-29-2019)


Bonnie Fuentes
Acting Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate

Program Scope and Objectives

  1. Purpose. This section provides the procedures for the transfer of work for workload balancing purposes.

  2. Audience. These procedures apply to TAS Case Advocacy employees determining when to transfer a case for workload balancing purposes.

  3. Policy Owner. The Executive Director Case Advocacy, Intake & Technical Support (EDCA-ITS), who is under the Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate (DNTA).

  4. Program Owner. The Executive Director Case Advocacy (EDCA), who is under the DNTA.

Background

  1. To balance workload across the TAS organization, a national workload balancing (N-WLB) system was instituted on May 5, 2006.

Authority

  1. Pursuant to IRC § 7803(c), the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate (known as the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)) shall assist taxpayers to resolve problems with the IRS.

Responsibilities

  1. The NLWB Coordinator is responsible for managing the national workload balancing program, providing guidance to the Local Taxpayer Advocate offices, and determining when it is appropriate to transfer cases using workload balancing procedures. The National Workload Balancing Coordinator reports to the EDCA-ITS.

  2. TAS case advocacy employees are responsible for completing the TAMIS transfer procedures.

  3. Case Advocacy managers are responsible for making case assignments and ensuring employees within their purview are following the workload balancing procedures contained in this IRM.

Program Reports

  1. Reports to monitor the appropriate and timely routing of TAS cases using workload balancing procedures are derived from TAMIS and the Case Quality Review System (CQRS).

    1. The CQRS generates monthly and fiscal year cumulative reports as well as specific queries for data analysis.

    2. TAS uses Business Objects Enterprise (BOE) to generate reports to monitor office inventory levels and case transfers.

Terms

  1. The following table contains a list of terms used throughout this IRM.

    Term Definition
    Active Status When a case advocate or bilingual case advocate is available to accept cases.
    Bulk Receipts Bulk receipts involve a group of cases generally originating from a single source, or created by the same event with impact to multiple taxpayers.
    Case Acceptance Determination A TAS employee performing case intake will determine whether the taxpayer’s circumstances meet the criteria that TAS has identified that qualify taxpayers for TAS assistance.
    Case Eligibility Rules used to determine whether a case is eligible for National Workload Balancing.
    Case Intake The procedures TAS employees perform when TAS receives a taxpayer inquiry.
    Deferral Status When a case advocate or bilingual case advocate will be out of the office for one week or more but less than 45 calendar days.
    English Case Any case where the taxpayer’s language is identified as other than Spanish or where the taxpayers speaks Spanish, but the Power of Attorney speaks English and the box in line 2 of Form 2848 is checked.
    Intake Time Adjustment A reduction to the active CA/Bilingual CA (BCA) count to recognize intake activities performed in the office.
    Manual Inventory Balancing The procedures applied to the transfer of work for workload balancing purposes.
    National Workload Balancing The procedures applied to the transfer of work for workload balancing purposes.
    Permanent Part-Time Case Advocate Adjustment An adjustment made to the active CA/BCA count for a permanent part-time employee.
    Receiving Office The office receiving a case that has been transferred by the TAS office where the case originated.
    Small Office An office having no Taxpayer Advocate Group Manager (TAGM) or analyst and five or less case advocates.
    Spanish Case Any cases where the taxpayer speaks Spanish and all contact with the taxpayer is in Spanish, or the taxpayer and the POA speaks Spanish, or the taxpayer speaks Spanish and the POA speaks English and the box in line 2 of Form 2848 is not checked.
    Taxpayer Advocate Received Date The date TAS received the taxpayer’s inquiry.
    Transfer Guidelines A set of guidelines listing where TAS will route a case that has a specific issue identified by the guidelines.
    Zip Code Routing The tool used by TAS to identify by zip code where the case will be worked.

Acronyms

  1. The following table contains a list of acronyms and their definitions used throughout this IRM.

    Acronym Definition
    AMS Accounts Management System
    BCA Bilingual Case Advocate
    CA Case Advocate
    COB Close of Business
    DNTA Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate
    EDCA Executive Director Case Advocacy
    EDCA-ITS Executive Director Case Advocacy, Intake & Technical Support
    EEO Equal Employment Opportunity
    ESD Employee Support and Development
    FUTA Federal Unemployment Tax Act
    IA Intake Advocate
    LTA Local Taxpayer Advocate
    NTEU National Treasury Employees Union
    N-WLB National Workload Balancing
    OJI On-the-Job Instructor
    POA Power of Attorney
    QRDB Quality Review Database
    SBREFA Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act
    SFC Senate Finance Committee
    TAGM Taxpayer Advocate Group Manager
    TAMIS Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System
    TARD Taxpayer Advocate Received Date
    TAS Taxpayer Advocate Service
    TRC Transfer Reason Code
    ZCR Zip Code Routing

Related Resources

  1. TAS employees will use the following resources in conjunction with this IRM to determine where a case should be routed:

    • TAS Case Transfer Guidelines;

    • TAS Office Locations by Zip Code Tool; and

    • TAS Inventory Balancing intranet site at http://tas.web.irs.gov/policy/inv/default.aspx.

  2. This is a list of relevant IRMs TAS case advocacy employees will use when routing a case:

    • IRM 13.1.11, Case and Inventory Management;

    • IRM 13.1.8, Congressional Affairs Program;

    • IRM 13.1.16, TAS Intake and Case Receipt Process;

    • IRM 13.1.17, TAS Case Transfer Process;

    • IRM 13.1.18, Processing TAS Cases;

    • IRM 13.4.5, Initiating and Working a Case on TAMIS; and

    • IRM 13.4.6, Management Inventory Screens.

Introduction

  1. These procedures apply to the transfer of work for workload balancing purposes only. The rules outlined here apply to both English and Spanish cases.

  2. For N-WLB purposes, there are two (2) types of cases; English and Spanish.

    1. An English case is defined as any case where:

      • The taxpayer’s language is identified as other than Spanish; or,

      • The taxpayer speaks Spanish, but the Power of Attorney (POA) speaks English and the box in line 2 under Name and Address, of Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, is checked (i.e., indicating notices are going to the POA and the taxpayer). English should be entered as the taxpayer’s language on TAMIS.

    2. A Spanish case is defined as any case where:

      • The taxpayer speaks Spanish and all contact with the taxpayer is in Spanish; or,

      • The taxpayer speaks Spanish and the POA speaks Spanish; or,

      • The taxpayer speaks Spanish, the POA speaks English, and the box in line 2 under Name and Address of Form 2848 is not checked (i.e., notices are not going to the POA).

TAS National Office Responsibilities

  1. Each Monday morning, the N-WLB coordinator will generate a series of reports to determine the offices involved in N-WLB through the following Friday.

  2. Using the definitions in IRM 13.1.22.2, the inventory for each office is broken down to show Spanish and English open inventory. Open inventory includes all cases assigned to a CA or BCA in active status, and:

    1. All cases with a status not equal to C (closed);

    2. Criteria codes 1-9;

    3. All TAS assigned Congressional cases;

    4. All regular and reopened cases;

    5. 50 percent of cases identified as Bulk. See IRM 13.1.22.8, Bulk Receipts for the definition of a bulk case.

  3. The number of available CAs and BCAs is determined on Monday morning. Available CAs and BCAs are those in active status on the Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System (TAMIS).

  4. Adjustments are made automatically to the active CA/BCA counts for:

    1. Permanent part-time employees (CA/BCA);

    2. Small offices (offices with less than five Case Advocates);

    3. Time spent by non-Intake Advocates performing intake work; and

    4. New hires and on-the-job instructors (OJI) on partial availability. See IRM 13.1.22.5, Accounting for a New Hire and OJI.

  5. From these reports, the following information is calculated:

    1. Each office’s average English inventory per CA. This is determined by the open English inventory as defined in IRM 13.1.22.2, Introduction, divided by the number of active non-BCAs.

    2. Each office’s average Spanish inventory per BCA. This is determined by the open Spanish inventory as defined in IRM 13.1.22.2, divided by the number of active BCAs.

    3. The national average English inventory per CA. This is determined by the open English inventory as defined in IRM 13.1.22.2, divided by the number of active non-BCAs.

    4. The national average Spanish inventory per BCA. This is determined by the open Spanish inventory as defined in IRM 13.1.22.2, divided by the number of active BCAs.

  6. The following conditions are used to determine an office’s eligibility to receive or send cases for English or Spanish N-WLB, and the number of cases they are eligible to receive on both a daily and weekly basis (English and Spanish eligibility are determined separately):

    1. The standard to compare offices’ inventories is the national average inventory per CA/BCA.

    2. Any office with plus or minus (+/-) five cases from the national average is eligible to send or receive cases, respectively.

    3. The maximum number of cases a receiving office is eligible to receive is one case per active CA/BCA per day.

  7. Each Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) office will have two designated recipients for N-WLB e-mail messages.

  8. Once the N-WLB determinations are made, all inventory balancing coordinators will receive an e-mail providing the English and Spanish national averages and a summary of the English and Spanish transfers for the time period covered.

    Note:

    An office may send cases to, or receive cases from, more than one office.

Deferral Rules

  1. It is the responsibility of the LTA offices to appropriately apply the deferral rules.

  2. When a CA/BCA will be out of the office for one week or more (i.e., seven or more consecutive calendar days) but less than 45 calendar days, the Inactive Indicator field on the TAMIS Employee Screen must be changed to deferral by close of business (COB) the workday prior to the CA/BCA’s scheduled departure. Examples include:

    1. CA/BCA is on extended leave (including annual and sick leave);

    2. A detail outside of TAS; or,

    3. On non-casework assignment (e.g., full-time NTEU/EEO).

      Note:

      Deferral status does not require reassignment of the CA/BCA inventory. However, if the CA/BCA will be out of the office for more than 45 calendar days, his or her open inventory must be reassigned and the employee’s status on TAMIS should be changed to inactive.

  3. Documentation (e.g., e-mail) including dates, is required for non-casework assignments and must be sent to the headquarters’ N-WLB coordinator, through the area coordinator, by COB the day the CA/BCA is to be placed in deferral status. If the work assignment is for a national project, the documentation must come from the office responsible for the project (e.g., Employee Support and Development (ESD) for training assignments, Executive Director of Case Advocacy (EDCA) for case project assignments, etc.)

  4. By COB one workday prior to the return of the CA/BCA, change the Inactive Indicator field on the TAMIS Employee Screen to active status.

  5. If a CA/BCA is retiring or permanently leaving the CA/BCA position, the employee may be placed in deferral status 20 calendar days prior to the scheduled departure date.

  6. Offices may not place a CA/BCA used as an Intake Advocate (IA) in deferral status.

  7. The same deferral rules and procedures apply for an IA.

  8. The intake time adjustment is adjusted to account for an IA in deferral status. The office must advise the N-WLB Coordinator of the deferral. See IRM 13.1.22.10.2, Intake Time Adjustment.

Accounting for a New Hire and On-the-Job Instructor (OJI)

  1. These procedures apply to a CA/BCA new hire and a CA/BCA serving as an OJI, and provide the mechanics for implementing the Deferral Guidelines issued by the EDCA office.

  2. The steps outlined in this section allow the process to be automated, and N-WLB to ensure the CA/BCA is appropriately counted.

  3. A new hire or OJI meeting the guidelines in IRM 13.1.22.4, Deferral Rules may be placed in deferral status.

  4. During the period of time an OJI or new hire is 100 percent deferred, their status on TAMIS is updated to deferral. Once the OJI or new hire has moved out of the 100 percent deferral period, their status on TAMIS is updated to active.

  5. For the OJI , the Deferral Guidelines gradually increase the level of availability until the training period is completed. No matter the employee’s status, active or deferral, their availability will be adjusted by following these steps:

    1. The 3rd box of the Street Address Zip Code field on the Employee Screen is used to track both the new hire and OJI through the training process. See the figure in Exhibit 13.1.22-1, TAMIS Employee Screen

    2. The values are entered in this field as 250 (25 percent available), 500 (50 percent available), and 750 (75 percent available).

    3. When the new hire moves further along in their training, the 3rd box is updated based on the new level of availability.

  6. Anytime a value is entered in the third box of the zip code field, 0000 must also be entered in the second box of the zip code field.

    Example:

    An employee falling in the 25 percent available range (75 percent deferred) should have the second box of the Street Address Zip Code field on the Employee Screen updated to 0000, and the last box updated to 250.

  7. It is the responsibility of each local and Area office to ensure the zip code field is updated no later than the day before the next training phase begins.

Case Eligibility

  1. The following type of case is eligible for N-WLB:

    1. New receipt – An English or Spanish case received after an office opens on Monday morning of each week, or a case received on the previous Friday not loaded on TAMIS;

      Note:

      A case received and loaded on Friday, but not assigned to a CA/BCA is counted in open inventory and is not eligible for N-WLB.

    2. Non-filers meeting the new receipt definition in (a) above;

    3. Correspondence specifically addressed to a LTA office; and,

    4. Correspondence addressed to the Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA). Note: Follow procedures in IRM 13.1.17.6(6), TAS Transfer Time Frames for those cases where the taxpayer has contacted the office or LTA directly.

  2. Cases not eligible for N-WLB are:

    1. Cases meeting transfer criteria per the TAS Case Transfer Guidelines;

    2. TAS Congressional cases;

    3. Cases originating from the National Taxpayer Advocate’s (NTA’s) office;

    4. Senate Finance Committee (SFC) cases;

    5. Small Business Regulatory Enforcement Fairness Act (SBREFA) cases;

    6. Reopened cases;

    7. Cases meeting the Bulk definition. See IRM 13.1.22.7, Bulk Receipts;

    8. Cases identified on TAMIS as e-Trak;

    9. Cases referred from a Low Income Tax Clinic (LITC); and

    10. Schemes.

  3. N-WLB is for cases remaining in an office after applying transfer criteria and Zip Code routing. Before transferring a case for N-WLB:

    1. First apply TAS Case Transfer Guidelines,

    2. If there is no transfer criteria, second apply Zip Code routing.

  4. If a sending office cannot meet its daily allotment of cases, it may review receipts and transfers-in for one of the issues listed below. Only these issues are allowed as an exception to the transfer guidelines for N-WLB purposes, and only if an office cannot meet its daily allotment of cases to transfer. This exception only applies to offices eligible to transfer out work under N-WLB.

    • FUTA – Open

    • FUTA – Closed

  5. A case should not be transferred multiple times. This is generally not in the taxpayer’s best interest. A case transferred to balance inventories should not be transferred again. When working with the taxpayer, TAS can improve the taxpayer’s experience with the IRS by working expeditiously with the taxpayer. Case transfers should be transparent to the taxpayer, i.e., the taxpayer should not notice a delay. For some situations, any delay by TAS could mean TAS is unable to grant relief.

  6. Use TAMIS transfer reason code 0 (zero) when transferring a case for N-WLB. This transfer reason code (TRC) is only used when transferring a case for N-WLB.

  7. Area balancing is only allowed for egregious situations and must be coordinated in advance with both the EDCA-ITS inventory analyst and the N-WLB coordinator.

  8. Advance knowledge of events requiring new receipts to be re-routed is considered when determining the volume of cases a site can receive. These events may include: training events, office moves, Tax Forums, etc.

Time Requirements for Transferring a Case

  1. All cases must be transferred within one workday from the Taxpayer Advocate Received Date (TARD). Sending the case timely is essential, especially with time-sensitive issues, when working with the taxpayer, TAS can improve the taxpayer’s experience with the IRS by working expeditiously with the taxpayer. Case transfers should be transparent to the taxpayer, i.e., the taxpayer should not notice a delay. For some situations, any delay by TAS could mean TAS is unable to grant relief.

  2. The daily transfer deadline is as follows:

    • Monday – 3 p.m. local time of the transferring office.

    • Tuesday through Friday – 1:30 p.m. local time of the transferring office.

      Exception:

      If a federally observed holiday falls on Monday, transfers are allowed until 3 p.m. local time on the subsequent day.

  3. There will be no catch up if the daily quota is not met.

    Example:

    If an office can transfer five cases per day but only transfers two on a given day, the office cannot send eight cases the next day.

  4. Use the first in/first out method for selecting a case for N-WLB. If you are using the Accounts Management System (AMS) to review and accept cases, the cases are listed in first in/first out order.

  5. If you are using the TAMIS inventory screen, cases are listed in criteria code order. To select a case, use a sequential order by case file number.

  6. If an office is sending cases to more than one office, alternate the receiving offices to avoid overloading one particular office.

Bulk Receipts

  1. If your office receives cases meeting the following definition for bulk receipts, enter BULK in the Local Use 2 field on the TAMIS Taxpayer Screen 5 of 5.

  2. Bulk receipts involve a group of cases generally originating from a single source, or created by the same event with impact to multiple taxpayers.

  3. Some of the attributes of bulk cases are:

    1. same issue(s);

    2. require same or similar action(s);

    3. identified around the same time;

    4. like kind of work;

    5. long idle time between actions;

    6. cases related to one another (e.g., same specific issue, same individual/business involved, one POA with the same problem affecting several taxpayers); or,

    7. originate from one source.

  4. For additional information, see IRM 13.1.17.9.2.2, Bulk Cases.

Special Instructions for Spanish Cases

  1. When documenting a case on AMS or TAMIS, ensure the taxpayer’s language is coded correctly. Code the taxpayer language according to the language the taxpayer wants to use when discussing his or her problem. A Spanish case is defined as any case where:

    1. The taxpayer speaks Spanish and all contact with the taxpayer is in Spanish;

    2. The taxpayer speaks Spanish and the POA speaks Spanish; or,

    3. The taxpayer speaks Spanish, the POA speaks English, and the box in line 2 under Name and Address of Form 2848 is not checked (i.e., notices are not going to the POA).

  2. English is entered as the taxpayer’s language on TAMIS when the taxpayer speaks Spanish, but the Power of Attorney (POA) speaks English and the box line 2 under Name and Address of Form 2848is checked (i.e., notices are going to the POA and the taxpayer).

  3. If your office has no BCA, use the Spanish Partnership Chart at https://organization.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/tas/files/PolicyandProcedure/InventoryBalancing/BSP_N-WLB-SpanishPartnership.doc to determine the TAS office to transfer the Spanish language case. However, if an office without a BCA receives a Congressional case, the office will retain the case and work with a BCA in its partnership office.

  4. Use TRC1 for transfers to your partner office as identified in the Spanish Partnership Chart.

Adjustments to Case Advocate Count

  1. The following sections outline various adjustments to the case advocate count under N-WLB.

Permanent Part-Time Case Advocates

  1. An adjustment is made to the office's active CA/BCA count for a permanent part-time employee.

  2. Any changes to a part-time schedule must be communicated to the headquarters' N-WLB coordinator.

Intake Time Adjustment

  1. A reduction to the active CA/BCA count is made by the headquarters’ N-WLB coordinator to recognize intake activities performed in the office.

  2. The adjustment is based on the percentage of time spent performing intake work during the prior quarter, and is modified quarterly.

  3. An office’s intake adjustment will be reduced, but not below zero, by the number of active IAs in the office.

  4. An office must notify the headquarters' N-WLB coordinator of changes to IA staffing.

  5. Current intake time adjustments can be found under Intake Time Adjustment Chart.

    Example:

    An office with a computed intake time adjustment of 1.25 has one IA. The office receives an intake time adjustment of .25.

Small Office Adjustment
  1. A small office is defined as one having no Taxpayer Advocate Group Manager (TAGM) or analyst, and five or less case advocates.

  2. A CA/BCA in a smaller office is more likely to perform ancillary duties other than case work (e.g., participating in Outreach events). These offices are also less able to absorb unanticipated absences and time spent performing non-casework duties.

  3. To address the unique challenges of a smaller office, they are allowed a modification to the intake time adjustment.

  4. This modification is equal to the greater of the current intake time adjustment or 20 percent for each on-role CA/BCA, up to a maximum of one.

    Note:

    The 20 percent reduction is based on average indirect time.

    Example:

    Office A has a LTA and three CAs. Their computed intake time adjustment is .50. Since this office meets the small office definition, their intake time adjustment is .60, the greater of the computed adjustment of .50 or 3 (the number of CAs) multiplied by 20 percent.

TAMIS Employee Screen

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