13.2.5 Advocacy Projects

Manual Transmittal

November 04, 2020

Purpose

(1) This transmits new IRM 13.2.5, Systemic Advocacy, Advocacy Projects. This IRM section describes methods, tools, and sources the Systemic Advocacy (SA) employees can use to work Advocacy Projects (APs), with the goal of resolving systemic issues. It also provides procedures to help protect taxpayer information from inappropriate disclosure.

(2) Resolving systemic issues reduces the burden on taxpayers and, many times, saves the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) resources. Unnecessary delays in project work add to this burden. Because of this, employees must work assignments with a sense of urgency.

(3) This IRM contains advocacy tips for advocating on systemic issues.

Material Changes

(1) This new IRM contains the Advocacy Project administrative material formerly located in IRM 13.2.2, Inventory Control and Working An Assignment. Further, the new IRM also now includes additional and supplemental Advocacy Project administrative procedures. Advocacy Projects has been reassigned to IRM 13.2.5.

(2) The following changes are shown below:

IRM Reference IRM Title Description of Change
13.2.5 Advocacy Projects Information modified and moved from IRM 13.2.2.4.2
13.2.5.1 Program Scope and Objectives New Internal Controls content
13.2.5.1.1 Background New content added to IRM for Background
13.2.5.1.2 Authority New content added to IRM for Authority
13.2.5.1.3 Responsibilities or Roles and Responsibilities New content added to IRM for Responsibilities or Roles and Responsibilities
13.2.5.1.4 Program Management Review New content added to IRM for Program Management Review
13.2.5.1.5 Program Controls New content added to IRM for Program Controls
13.2.5.1.6 Terms/Definitions/Acronyms New content added to IRM for Terms/Definitions/Acronyms
13.2.5.1.7 Related Resources New content added to IRM for Related Resources
13.2.5.2 Safeguarding Taxpayer Information New content added to IRM for Safeguarding Taxpayer Information
13.2.5.3 Working an Advocacy Project Moved and modified content from IRM 13.2.2.5.5 Working a project and IRM 13.2.2.5.6 Substantive Actions and Project Responsibilities to IRM 13.2.5.3 Working an Advocacy Project
13.2.5.3.1 Advocacy Project Assignment IRM 13.2.2.5 Project Assignment, Development, Management & Working a Project, IRM 13.2.2.5.1 Project Assignments, IRM 13.2.2.5.3 Project Management, IRM 13.2.2.5.4 Team Composition was retitled and content modified and moved under 13.2.5.3.1 Advocacy Project Assignment
13.2.5.3.2 Team Composition and Responsibilities Modified title and content of IRM 13.2.2.5.4 Team Composition to IRM 13.2.5.3.2 Team Composition & Responsibilities
13.2.5.3.3 Initial Project Documentation New title and modified content from IRM 13.2.2.5.5.2 Action Plan
13.2.5.3.4 Ongoing Project Documentation New title and content
13.2.5.3.5 Project Status Updates Guidance moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.1 Project Status Updates and IRM 13.2.2.5.5.4 Project Action Dates to IRM 13.2.5.3.5 Project Status Updates
13.2.5.3.6 Project Follow-up Dates Guidance moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.1 Project Status Updates
13.2.5.3.7 Working Projects Steps New title and content
13.2.5.3.8 Project Development Guidance moved from IRM 13.2.2.5.2 Project Development Guidance, IRM 13.2.2.5.5.3 Project Research, IRM 13.2.2.5.7 Required Internal Coordination, IRM 13.2.2.6 Key Contact Information, and IRM 13.2.2.65 Review and Enactment by the Operating Division or Function to IRM 13.2.5.3.8 Project Development.
13.2.5.4 Elevating Issues to the Deputy Executive Director Systemic Advocacy (DEDSA) and the Executive Director Systemic Advocacy (EDSA) Modified content due to changes in organization
13.2.5.4.1 Advocacy Proposals Content moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.2.2 Advocacy Proposal
13.2.5.4.1.1 Advocacy Proposal Memorandum New title and content
13.2.5.4.1.2 Advocacy Proposal Briefing Document New title and content
13.2.5.4.2 Project Resolution Content moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.2 Project Resolution or Remedies
13.2.5.4.2.1 Administrative Procedure Changes Moved and modified title and content from IRM 13.2.2.6.2 Project Resolution or Remedies and IRM 13.2.2.6.2.1 Informal Agreements to IRM 13.2.5.4.2.1 Administrative Procedure Changes
13.2.5.4.2.2 Published Guidance Guidance moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.2.3 and modified content
13.2.5.4.2.3 Legislative Recommendation Proposal Guidance moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.2.4 and modified content
13.2.5.5 Closing an Advocacy Project Guidance modified and moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.3 Closing an Advocacy Project, IRM 13.2.2.6.6 Monitoring Outcomes, IRM 13.2.2.7 Project Executive Summary, and IRM 13.2.2.71 Project Closing Letters to IRM 13.2.5.5 Closing an Advocacy Project
13.2.5.5.1 External Submitter Closing Guidance moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.4 and modified content
13.2.5.5.2 Internal Submitter Closing Guidance moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.4 and modified content
13.2.5.5.3 Closing Communications Guidance moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.4 and modified content
13.2.5.5.4 SAMS Closing Actions Guidance moved from IRM 13.2.2.6.3 and modified content
13.2.5-1 Exhibit - TAS Research Request Modified Content
13.2.5-2 Exhibit - Memorandum to Request a Counsel Legal Opinion Modified Content
13.2.5-3 Exhibit - Out of Clearance Submission Template Modified Content
13.2.5-4 Exhibit -Business Performance Review Modified Content
13.2.5-5 Exhibit - Advocacy Closing Letter Template Modified Content
13.2.5-6 Exhibit - Project Closing Summary Email Template Modified Content
13.2.5-7 Exhibit - Quality Attributes Modified Content

Effect on Other Documents

Supersedes administrative material previously contained in IRM 13.2.2, Inventory Control and Working an Assignment, dated 7-16-2009, and Interim Guidance memorandum TAS-13.2-0910-008 on Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS) User Account Management dated September 28, 2010.

Audience

Taxpayer Advocate Service, primarily employees within Systemic Advocacy.

Effective Date

(11-04-2020)

Erin M. Collins
National Taxpayer Advocate

Introduction

  1. Throughout the Taxpayer Advocacy Service (TAS), employees play a vital role in identifying, analyzing, and resolving broad-based taxpayer problems. These taxpayer problems come to TAS’s attention through several sources including offices within TAS, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees, taxpayers, practitioners, and other external stakeholders.

Program Scope and Objectives

  1. This IRM section describes the types of Advocacy Projects (APs) used by Systemic Advocacy (SA) and the process for working projects. The APs are worked to resolve systemic issues, affect change and to propose alternative language to an IRM using an Outside the Clearing Process (OCP) form.

  2. Audience: Taxpayer Advocate Service , primarily employees within Systemic Advocacy (SA).

  3. Policy Owner: National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA), TAS

  4. Program Owner: Executive Director Systemic Advocacy (EDSA)

  5. Contact Information Employees should contact the Product Content Owner provided on the Product Catalog Information page for this IRM. To recommend changes or make any other suggestions related to this IRM section, see IRM 1.11.6.6, Providing Feedback About an IRM Section - Outside of Clearance.

Background

  1. TAS SA plays a vital role in identifying, analyzing, and resolving broad-based taxpayer problems. Projects arise from several sources, including field offices within TAS, IRS employees in other functions, and external stakeholders.

  2. SA utilizes Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS) to receive, control, document and monitor advocacy submissions. The staff is engaged in the evaluation and resolution of issues and acts expeditiously to address matters of taxpayer rights and the reduction of burden.

Authority

  1. Internal Revenue Code (IRC) § 7803(c) established the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate to assist with resolving problems with the IRS, identify areas in which taxpayers have problems dealing with the IRS, propose changes in the administrative practices of the IRS and to identify potential legislative changes to mitigate problems.

Roles and Responsibilities

  1. The Executive Director Systemic Advocacy (EDSA) reports directly to the NTA. The EDSA is responsible for systemic advocacy oversight and the NTA's June Reports to Congress and Annual Reports to Congress (ARC). Two divisions, Proactive Advocacy and Technical Advocacy, report to the EDSA. The Deputy Executive Director, Systemic Advocacy, Proactive Advocacy (DEDSA-PA) and the Deputy Executive, Systemic Advocacy, Technical Advocacy (DEDSA-TA), are responsible for identifying and raising awareness of systemic issues impacting taxpayers. The DEDSA-PA is responsible for the production of the NTA ARC, the receipt and control of advocacy issues and the internal management document process. The DEDSA-TA is responsible for the advocacy initiative tracking system, assignment of APs, advocacy proposals, and a database which captures s, proposals and initiatives. TAS SA receives administrative and legislative proposals from a multitude of sources, including internal and external sources.

  2. Advocacy analysts, assigned to SA, work with the IRS Business Operating Divisions/Functional Units (BOD/FU) to analyze and understand the root causes of problems and support joint advocacy efforts. The ultimate goals of the advocacy analysts are to ensure the taxpayer’s fundamental rights are respected, and IRS decision making takes into account the taxpayer’s interest, the reduction of taxpayer burden, improving customer service and addressing the inequitable treatment of taxpayers.

Program Management Review

  1. SA has established a series of organizational measurements to address program effectiveness through direct oversight of three Technical Advocacy Directors (Collection, Examination and Processing). They are responsible for conducting reviews monthly as structured in the TAS Program Letter. In addition to these reviews, AP closures are reviewed by the Quality Review Program based on statistical sampling of closures.

  2. Quality measures include:

    • Accuracy - The correctness of actions defined by statute and guidance;

    • Efficiency - The cost of producing a quality (accurate, complete, timely) product;

    • Timeliness - Completing actions within time frames in statute and guidelines;

    • Customer Satisfaction - Customer’s view of product provided;

    • Employee Satisfaction - Employee’s view of work life; and

    • Effectiveness - TAS’s success in resolving taxpayer’s problems.

  3. The standards fall within the following categories, Accuracy Focus, Procedural Focus and Customer Focus with assigned attributes. See Exhibit 13.2.5-7, SA Quality Attributes.

  4. The SA quality review of closed APs and Intermediate Interventions (IIs) will provide organization performance measurement of the accuracy and timeliness of key SA product delivery.

Program Controls

  1. Program Goals –The processes and procedures provided in this IRM are:

    • To evaluate whether a submission is a systemic issue;

    • To research and gather information to determine the potential impact on taxpayers and on processes and procedures impacting the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR), and;

    • To evaluate proposed procedural changes initiated by the BOD/FUs and submit advocacy proposals and recommendations.

  2. Program Reports – SA uses Business Objects Enterprise (BOE) for the reporting of program objectives.

  3. Annual Review –The three Directors of Technical Advocacy (Examination, Collection, and Processing) are responsible for reviewing the information in this IRM annually to ensure accuracy and promote consistent tax administration. The Director of Advocacy Efforts (DAE) has the responsibility for oversight of the yearly program reviews.

Terms/Definitions/Acronyms

  1. The use of abbreviations and acronyms are located in IRM 13.2.1. See Exhibit 13.2.1-1, Terms, Acronyms and Definitions for commonly used TAS terms and abbreviations.

Related Resources

  1. Additional SA program information and resources are available as provided below:

Safeguarding Taxpayer Information

  1. IRC § 6103(a) prohibits unauthorized disclosure of tax returns and return information.

  2. TAS employees must be aware of information that must be protected, how to protect it, and how to dispose of, or destroy, the information when it is no longer required.

  3. Taxpayers can expect that TAS will keep their information confidential, and will share information only as necessary, and only as authorized by law. See IRC § 7803(c)(4)(A)(iv); IRM 13.1.5, Taxpayer Advocate Case Procedures, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Confidentiality; and IRM 1.2.1.2.1, Policy Statement 1-1, Mission of the Service.

  4. IRM 1.15.2, Records and Information Management: Types of Records and Their Life Cycle provide specific guidelines and procedures for safeguarding and disposing of protected records.

  5. For more information about IRC § 6103, See IRM 11.3.1, Disclosure of Official Information, Introduction to Disclosure.

Working an Advocacy Project

  1. An AP is designed to:

    1. Identify and address systemic and procedural issues;

    2. Analyze the underlying causes of problems, and;

    3. Propose corrective action.

  2. SA uses APs as vehicles to resolve systemic problems and affect change. The problem could involve the burden or effectiveness of current procedures and processes, consistency with statutory requirements, or communications and products offered to the public. Employees are expected to work APs with a sense of urgency by taking significant actions monthly, but no less than once every 31 days.

  3. The section below provides guidance on working an AP from assignment to closure.

Advocacy Project Assignment

  1. Systemic Issue Review and Evaluation (SIRE) reviewers complete the review process and may propose a project be created from those issues deemed systemic. For additional information, see IRM 13.2.3, Evaluating and Reviewing Systemic Issue Reviews.

  2. The technical advocacy director assigns the project to a team lead. (On SAMS, the technical advocacy director is shown as the "Project Manager" ). If needed, the project manager may establish a team. A team may include, but is not limited to analysts, local taxpayer advocates (LTAs), attorney advisors (AAs), and senior technical liaisons (STLs).

  3. The project manager initially adds all team members to the project. SAMS automatically assigns the "Actual Start Date" after assigning the team lead and updates the workflow status to "In Process" . The team lead updates SAMS with members joining the team after assignment.

Team Composition and Responsibilities

  1. On SAMS, assignments are as follows:

    • Team Lead;

    • Project Manager (SA Technical Advocacy Director);

    • Project Director (DEDSA-TA), and if required;

    • Team Members.

  2. The team lead’s responsibilities include:

    • Completing the steps necessary to resolve the project’s issue(s);

    • Keeping the project manager informed of the project status;

    • Acting as a liaison between the project manager and the team members; and

    • Guiding, supporting, and coordinating the activities of team members, if any.

  3. The project manager’s responsibilities include:

    • Monitoring the progress of the project toward prompt resolution;

    • Providing guidance for project resolution; and

    • Keeping the project director and SA management informed of the project status,

  4. The project director’s responsibilities include:

    • Providing project resolution guidance; and

    • Approval of final project resolution.

  5. The team members’ responsibilities include:

    • Completing tasks by established deadlines; and

    • Communicating with the team lead on the progress of their work and any pressing issues.

Initial Project Documentation

  1. The following provides guidance for the team lead to document the initial actions on SAMS. Complete the following steps and document the results on the "Notes" tab on SAMS within 31 days of the "Actual Start Date."

    1. Review the information provided by the submitter and the issue review process including associated issues and/or work types. Provide a summary of the background of the issue including potential causes and why the issue became a project.

      Reminder:

      Advocacy Tip: Submitters input SAMS submissions based on a few examples or experiences. Consider utilizing a variety of resources to locate the core of the systemic problem.

    2. Complete an initial review of authorities. At a minimum, review the IRMs related to the issue.

    3. Analyze examples, if available.

      Review the initial examples that may include Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System (TAMIS) histories or other information for a complete understanding of the systemic problem. Confirm the examples support the issue. Discuss with the project manager to obtain TAMIS histories if needed.

    4. Contact the submitter.

      The preferred method of contact is a telephone call. If telephone contact is not an option, contact the submitter via their email address. If the contact information is unavailable, attempt to locate the submitter.

      Reminder:

      Advocacy Tip: Contact using either the submitter's name or email address, conduct an internet search if the only contact information is an email address.

      During this initial contact:

      • If the submitter is not an IRS employee, the team lead must provide the necessary identifying information as required by IRM 13.1.2.3.1, Identify Yourself;
      • Advise the submitter the project is being worked;
      • Confirm with the submitter a clear understanding of the issue;
      • Ask if there is additional information or if changes have occurred affecting the issue;
      • Explain it may be necessary to contact the submitter again if there are additional questions;
      • Explain to submitter they will be notified of the outcome at the conclusion of the project;
      • Encourage the submitter to contact team lead for status updates, if desired;
      • Confirm submitter’s preferred communication for sharing project outcome:

      • Internal submitters: Email or phone;

      • External submitters: Phone or closing letter; and


      • Document a summary of the initial submitter contact within 31 calendar days unless the submitter states otherwise. Include attempts to contact, on the "Notes" tab and select the type "Submitter Contact" on SAMS.

      Exception:

      If a TAS employee submits a SAMS Issue for someone other than themselves, then contact with the submitter is not required. If the submitter is the team lead who is assigned to work the AP, then no contact is required. Also, when a TAS employee inputs a submission to SAMS for someone else (i.e., LTA submitting for someone and we do not have the "real" submitter’s contact information) then no contact is required. If submitter is anonymous and submission was input by TAS employee or other, document in SAMS on the "Notes" tab unable to locate or contact submitter.

       
      If Then
      The team lead contacts the submitter Team lead should discuss frequency of subsequent contacts, document "Notes" tab on SAMS with follow-up date and document submitter’s preferences for contact.
      Subsequent contact is not documented on "Notes" tab on SAMS by the team lead. The contact date defaults to within 31 calendar days of the previous contact with submitter.
      The team lead identifies other issues while working the original project Although not required, team lead should consider whether a subsequent contact would be beneficial in working the additional issues.
      The team lead is unable to contact submitter Document SAMS of the attempted contacts on the "Notes" tab.

      If the submitter is external, and only an email address is provided, then use the recommended language:


      "I will be working on the issue you submitted to the Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS). I’d like to explain the next steps. Please contact me at XXX-XXX-XXXX during the hours of XX:XX AM to XX:XX PM (Time Zone). If you prefer, provide me a phone number and the best time to reach you.
      In order to ensure your privacy, we discourage you from sending your personal information to us by email. Further, IRS does not allow employees to exchange unencrypted personally identifiable or other sensitive information with email accounts outside of the IRS network, even with your permission."

    5. Complete and submit Action Plan to project manager.
      An Action Plan is a list of tasks that must be accomplished by the team members in order to complete an AP. The team lead of the project will usually be responsible for the creation of the action plan. The purpose of breaking down the project into tasks is to determine the most efficient way to divide the work of the project and to assign accountability for completing each of the tasks of the project. Use the "Action Plan" tab on SAMS to inform the project manager the initial project documentation under the "Notes" tab is completed.
      Create an Action Plan by completing the following fields. Once the action plan is saved, SAMS automatically alerts the project manager the action plan is ready for approval.

      Field Document
      Short Title "Initial project documentation completed"
      Description "Elevating to manager for approval"
      Planned Start Date Use action plan submitted date to program manager
      Planned End Date Use estimated completion date of project.
      Actual Start Date Use action plan submitted date to program manager
      Actual End Date Use actual completion date elevated to program manager

      Note:

      SAMS programming requires completing the above prior to closing by entering the actual end date and checking the Action Plan Item Completed box.

Ongoing Project Documentation

  1. Document all actions and information that affect the outcome of the project on the "Notes" tab on SAMS as follows:

    • Take and document substantive actions;

    • Briefly describe the action taken, the information secured, barriers, advocacy opportunities, and the impact on the project;

    • Summarize emails or documents unless the entire email or document is relevant as an explanation; and

    • Do not enter tax return information on SAMS.

    Note:

    Attach only the relevant portion of documents to "Files" tab. Avoid attaching entire IRMs or other large documents.

Project Status Updates

  1. Document a status update by the last working day of the month when working projects.
    Use the following format for status updates on SAMS:

    • Issue : This is a brief re-stated description of the issue, including the impact on taxpayers. This description may be constant from update to update;

    • Cause(s): Describe the possible causes of the issue. Eliminate or add causes as the project progresses;

    • Actions to Date: Briefly describe important actions to date. Include research, communications with the IRS or other stakeholders, and other relevant information. Refine this description for each update; and

    • Actions Remaining: Describe actions remaining to resolve the issue. Include actions TAS needs to take, as well as actions the IRS needs to take. These actions change throughout the life of the project. As actions are completed, update the "actions to date" area of the status update. If applicable, identify potential barriers and a plan to overcome them.

Project Follow-up Dates

  1. Follow−up dates (FUDs) act as reminders to take action and move the project towards resolution. Other competing priorities may prevent the team lead from taking multiple actions during a month. The expectation is the team lead will take a substantive action at least once a month. FUDs are normally no more than 31 calendar days from the last FUD. Consider competing priorities and leave when setting follow up dates.

  2. Document FUD on the "Notes" tab. Set specific calendar dates and do not use an estimated completion date or a non-specific date such as "the week of…"

    Example:

    Initial project documentation completed July 1st. The FUD documented would be either August 1st or earlier. (e.g., "Complete review of related IRC section by August 1st."

    Exception:

    When there is no expected action required within 31 calendar days, e.g., TAS research needs 60 days to complete requests and all other actions are completed, document in the SAMS "Notes" tab the reason for the extended date.

    Note:

    Consider using the "Task" tab on SAMS. Do not include Personally Identifiable Information (PII) on SAMS.

Working Project Steps

  1. Projects generally progress through the following steps:

    • Documenting how the existing process works. Consider creating a flow chart or narrative that shows the existing process;

    • Determining where in the process the problem exists;

    • Contacting the process owner to discuss the issue;

    • Comparing the process against existing IRS requirements;

    • Analyzing various courses of action; and

    • Recommending and negotiating improvements with the IRS.


      Advocacy Tip: If the agreed resolution is significant, consider negotiating with the IRS to issue a Servicewide Electronic Research Program (SERP) Alert to employees.

Project Development

  1. Completing the above steps in IRM 13.2.5.4.7 could require additional information not available from the submitter or the issue review process. This additional information is not limited to, but may include:

    • Internal TAS Coordination;

    • Project Research and Collecting Data;

    • Locating the Process Owner;

    • Determining the Scope of the Potential Systemic Issue;

    • Legal Resources; and;

    • Negotiating for Systemic Improvements

  2. Internal TAS coordination is appropriate when other offices may have information that will assist with the resolution of the issue. In turn, information on the project may assist other offices in their advocacy efforts. When the issue involves coordination with other TAS stakeholders, the team lead may coordinate with one or all of these TAS internal stakeholders. Additional contacts may include, but are not limited to the following:

    • Internal Management Document/Single Point Of Contact (IMD/SPOC);

    • TAS collaborative efforts;

    • Technical Analysis Guidance (TAG);

    • Low Income Tax Clinic Program (LITC) Office;

    • Taxpayer Advocacy Panel (TAP) Program Office;

    • Internal Technical Advisor Program (ITAP);

    • Attorney advisors (AA); and

    • Office of the Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel (National Taxpayer Advocate Program) (CNTA).

      Note:

      Document all internal coordination efforts on "Notes" tab on SAMS.

  3. Research and Data Collecting provides various methods or alternatives for securing information and data to assist in researching the systemic issue and determining the scope. Focus should be on the following:

    • Research other TAS activities, including but not limited to, task forces, ARC, SAMS, Research Studies, and Collaborative Efforts on TAS SharePoint™ (SP). For example, ARC MSPs may contain legal references;

    • Consult with a STL, or Subject Matter Expert (SME) for ideas, guidance, or knowledge related to the systemic issue;

    • BOE report may be used to extract TAMIS case information from case advocate inventories to identify the core issue, provide additional substantiation, and support for the project's recommendations. Discuss BOE reports with the PM;

    • Request case examples from case advocate inventories by submitting a TAS Communications Assistance Request (CAR). Additionally, consider asking in the CAR for TAG to include a message on the relevant Case Assistance by Issue Code (CABIC) pages that SA seeking case examples;

    • Consider contacting submitters of related issues associated with the project for additional examples;

    • Complete a Technical Advice Assistance Request (TAAR) for assistance from the ITAP. Route the TAAR through the project manager to ITAP;

    • If the issue pertains to Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS) programming, consider contacting the Philadelphia Accounts Management User Support function found on http://ampsc.web.irs.gov/MainDirectory/UserSupport/UserSupport.html.;

    • Tax administration stakeholders, such as Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA), General Accountability Office (GAO), Information Reporting Program Advisory Committee and the Office of Research websites may provide background information and potential contacts;

    • Consider a Data Collection Instrument (DCI) if applicable; and

    • Research IRS and other additional external web sites. Examples include, but are not limited to: Notice Gatekeeper, SERP, Congress.gov, Document 6209 and Lexis−Nexis.

  4. Locating the Process Owner
    There are several options for identifying the author of an IRM, form, letter, notice or publication including:

    • SERP contains a listing of IRM authors and can be found at this website.http://serp.enterprise.irs.gov/databases/irm.dr/irm-listing.dr/irm-author-listing.html ;

    • IRS produces a monthly update of IRMs alphabetically, and in order by number, owner, and those that are obsolete. The list can be found at this website.http://publish.no.irs.gov/cat12.cgi?request=CAT1&catnum=27371W ;

    • Research the Office of Taxpayer Correspondence and Servicewide Notice Information Program (SNIP) for copies and descriptions of notices, which also provide the responsible notice "owner" and volume data;

    • Research OD web pages for information and potential contacts;

    • Research the Tax Forms and Publications web page for information about locating an existing product; and

    • Research Media and Publications web page for information about locating the author of a letter. http://publish.no.irs.gov/publish/psal.html;

  5. Determining the Scope of the Potential Systemic Issue
    Consider researching the BOD Business Performance Reports (BPR) for reporting program statistics, such as Levels of Service (LOS), Exam, Collection, or Return Integrity and Compliance Services (RICS) Statistics when determining the scope of the potential systemic issues. They also contain other information such as program summaries that may provide useful data and material for the project. Request for BPRs for Large Business & International Division (LB&I) and SB/SE can be made. Below is the information on how to find BPRs for each BOD:

    • W&I http://win.web.irs.gov/Strategy/OPA/OPA_BPR.htm ;

    • TE/GE http://tege.web.irs.gov/support/cpc/edm.asp#bprs ;

    • Appeals http://appeals.web.irs.gov/stratplan/BPR.htm;

    • LB&I - contact LB&I for information needed;

    • SB/SE, employees should first go to the TAS Web site under Analytical Tools. If the information is not shown, send a request through the project manager to DAE;

    • Securing and reviewing data captured in other systems may validate a systemic issue. For example, a TAS Research request may provide the number of taxpayer accounts affected by a systemic issue;

    • TAS Research: Complete a research request and forward to the project manager for approval.

      Example:

      If needing information to determine the number of taxpayers affected by a systemic issue in order to correct the accounts, complete a TAS Research request. See Exhibit 13.2.5-1 TAS Research Request Template; and

    • Statistics of Income (SOI) provide statistical data by type of taxpayer, by form, by year, and by custom sorts;

  6. Legal resources that should be considered with working a project include:

    • Library of Congress;

    • Congress.gov is the official website for U.S. federal legislative information. The site provides access to accurate, timely, and complete legislative information for Members of Congress, legislative agencies, and the public, and includes items such as public laws, committee reports, conference reports, etc.;

    • Lexis-Nexis or Westlaw Research case law, state and federal statutes, administrative codes, newspaper and magazine articles, public records, law journals, law reviews, treatises, legal forms and other information resources;

    • Internal Revenue Bulletin (IRB) is the authoritative instrument for announcing official rulings and procedures of the IRS and for publishing Treasury Decisions, Executive Orders, Tax Conventions, legislation, and court decisions;

    • Seeking Legal Advice for Formal Counsel Opinion concerning a recommended course of action.

      Example:

      This could include addressing whether an IRS procedure or practice is consistent with the tax code.;

    • The CNTA generally provides legal advice regarding project work. Consult with project manager on the need for a legal opinion. See IRM 13.1.10.2, Obtaining Legal Advice From Chief Counsel, for additional information;

    • As part of the Office of the Division Counsel/Associate Chief Counsel (National Taxpayer Advocate Program), the CNTA is responsible for providing legal interpretations of:
      • IRC § 7526, LITCs;
      •IRC § 7803(c), Office of the Taxpayer Advocate, including the LTA’s discretion not to disclose to the IRS contact with, or information provided by, the taxpayer;
      • IRC § 7811, Taxpayer Assistance Orders;
      • Taxpayer Advocate Directives;
      • IRC § 7803(a)(3), Taxpayer Bill of Rights;
      • The scope of TAS's statutory authority or delegated authority; and
      • Issues regarding TAS legislative proposals or any other matter related to the NTA's ARC.

    • Prepare a memo requesting a legal opinion if legal advice is needed and route through the project manager. See Exhibit 13.2.5-2, Memorandum to Request a Counsel Legal Opinion. All written requests for CNTA assistance must be routed through a manager and the DEDSA-TA for approval.; and

    • In the rare instance of needing legal advice on an individual case, contact the Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) Counsel office. See the link on the CNTA website for SB/SE Contacts for TAS.http://ccintranet.prod.irscounsel.treas.gov/OrgStrat/Offices/CNTA/Pages/default.aspx

  7. Identifying New Systemic Issues
    In the course of working the project, the team lead may discover new issues not initially identified. For example, the project deals with a processing problem and the team lead learns of an additional problem elsewhere in the processing pipeline. Discuss possible options with the project manager:

    • If issues relate to the core systemic problem, then consider expanding project scope;

    • If the new issue is unrelated and potentially systemic, then input the new issue to SAMS; and

    • If the new issue is unrelated and systemic, then submit the issue on SAMS requesting SIRE to create and assign the project.

  8. Negotiating Systemic Improvement
    Once there is an understanding of the systemic problem, identify potential barriers, possible remedies, and advocate for the needed systemic improvements by working with the appropriate IRS staff. Supporting information or data that may help in convincing the IRS to accept the recommendations could include, but are not limited to the following:

    • Evidence that a process is not working as intended, such as case examples;

    • Demonstrating the current process costs the IRS more than the recommended process;

    • Analysis showing how IRS procedures are inconsistent with the Code or Congressional intent;

    • Scope of the number of impacted taxpayers and financial burden;

    • Explanation on how a change supports the TBOR;

    • Locate examples from Treasury Regulations that support recommendations.

      Note:

      Advocacy Tips:
      • If a meeting to discuss the issue with the IRS has not happened, then request one. Consider including both the TAS and the IRS managers;

      • Consider discussing IRS’s response to the recommendation with the submitter. The submitter may have additional information to assist in rebutting the IRS position;

      • Discuss the issue with the appropriate functional Senior Technical Liaison(s) or Senior Analyst(s);

      • Depending on the issue, consider contacting the CNTA, TAG, IMD/SPOC, or a TAS SME to discuss the issue and ideas for rebutting the IRS; and

      • Consider researching intranet sites to view IRS data and/or information to incorporate IRS data into recommendations. The approach of quoting IRS information/data may assist in acceptance of the recommendation.

Elevating Issues to the Deputy Executive Director, Systemic Advocacy, Technical Advocacy (DEDSA-TA) and the Executive Director, Systemic Advocacy (EDSA)

  1. There may be times the IRS does not agree to our recommendations. Discuss this with the project manager. If the project manager agrees with the recommendations, elevate the issue to the appropriate functional STL. The STL can raise the recommendation at higher-level meetings. If STL is unsuccessful, then consider elevating to DEDSA-TA/EDSA after discussing with the STL.

  2. The EDSA participates on executive level calls with the BODs. Depending on the issue, the EDSA may have an opportunity to discuss rejected recommendations. Discuss with the project manager the possibility of elevating the issue. The project manager will brief the DEDSA-TA and a decision will be made whether to elevate the issue.

Advocacy Proposals

  1. An advocacy proposal is a formalized process for notifying the BOD by memorandum of unresolved issues identified by TAS. Consider an advocacy proposal for issues creating significant taxpayer rights and burden issues when the IRS refuses to make necessary changes. The EDSA provides the memorandum to the IRS executive in charge of the process. The memorandum provides a history of the issues, agreements reached, and agreements still needed.

  2. The advocacy proposal process is as follows:

    • The team lead should seek concurrence from the STLs involved in the topic area on the need for an advocacy proposal;

    • The project manager should seek concurrence from the DEDSA-TA and EDSA prior to preparing the advocacy proposals;

    • The team lead prepares a draft advocacy proposal and a briefing document and submits to the project manager. The draft advocacy proposal and briefing documents should be uploaded to the Technical Advocacy Shared Documents SP site for review at all levels;

    • The project manager reviews the draft advocacy proposal and the briefing document, and submits to the DEDSA-TA;

    • The DEDSA-TA may elevate to the EDSA directly or may arrange a conference call with the EDSA to discuss the advocacy proposals with the team lead, program manager (PM), and STL;

    • If the issue requires a change to an IMD, the DEDSA-TA sends an information copy of the draft to IMD/SPOC;

    • The EDSA works at the executive level for agreement to implement the proposal. If the EDSA is unable to resolve the issue, the EDSA briefs the NTA who decides the next action; and

    • Close the project to "Close Monitor" status on SAMS once the advocacy proposal is submitted to the IRS. Once TAS completes all actions related to the issue, move the project from "Close Monitor" to "Closed" . See IRM 13.2.5.6, Closing an Advocacy Project for more information.

       

      Note:

      If there is urgency to the advocacy proposal, management may direct omitting some of the above steps.

Advocacy Proposal Memorandum
  1. The advocacy proposal draft memorandum should include:

    1. Introduction Provide a brief introduction of the nature of the problem, along with a statement that the purpose of the Advocacy Proposal is to document the existence of the problem and recommendations for resolution of the problem.

    2. Problem Statement Provide an explanation of the issues or problem along with analysis of relevant laws, regulations, or procedures.

    3. Agreements Reached A detailed description of any agreements reached with the OD or function, to date.

    4. Supporting Documents Attach relevant factual documents (i.e., sample of IRS notices [redacting all taxpayer specific information]). Reference the Attachments in the body of the Advocacy Proposal.

    5. Agreements Needed A detailed description of agreements needed with an explanation as to how these agreements will resolve the problem(s).

    6. Requested Action A detailed explanation as to what next steps the OD or function should take to resolve the problem.

    7. TAS Contacts Provide the names and contact information for the EDSA, the DEDSA-TA, functional technical director and the team lead.

    Note:

    The above list is intended to be a guide and is not all inclusive; final advocacy proposals may contain some or all of the aforementioned sections, or more.

Advocacy Proposal Briefing Document
  1. The purpose of the advocacy proposal briefing document is to summarize the relevant facts needed to make a decision on submitting an advocacy proposal to the IRS. The briefing document is for internal TAS use.

  2. The team lead prepares the briefing document which includes the following:

    • How was the issue identified?;

    • What resolution did TAS propose?;

    • Why did the OD reject the proposal?

    • What is the impact on the OD? (e.g., budget, programming, policy, training, or how it would benefit the OD);

    • What is the impact on taxpayers? (e.g., TBOR, scope, burden);

    • Provide a chronological history of contacts with the OD, name, title and briefly describe the issues and comments during the negotiations;

    • Any other relevant factors. Examples could include:
      • Does the OD agree in principle, but unwilling to agree due to resources?;
      • Was it the permanent manager or an acting manager who disagreed?;
      • Did it start as a SAMS submission, and move into a collaborative event?;
      • Did the OD say the example was just an anomaly and there is no reason act on it?;
      •What are the contentious parts?; and
      • Does NTA have a past position?

    Note:

    Upload the draft advocacy proposal and briefing documents to the Technical Advocacy Shared Documents SP site for review at all levels

    • When composing the Advocacy Proposal documents, consider referring to these resources:

    • Document 13275, IRS Style Guide. The guide is designed to help IRS writers maintain consistent and uniform standards in communications: http://publish.no.irs.gov/cat12.cgi?request=CAT2&itemtyp=D&itemb=13275&items=* ; and

    • IRM 1.11.2.5.8, Standard Citation Rules’http://irm.web.irs.gov/Part1/Chapter11/Section2/IRM1.11.2.asp#1.11.2.5.8

Project Resolution

  1. Project resolutions are as unique as the issue itself. Consider the characteristics of the issue when selecting the resolution. Resolutions could include:

    • Administrative procedure changes;

    • Published guidance proposals; and

    • Legislative recommendation proposals

Administrative Procedure Changes
  1. The IRS agreeing to change a process is the most common advocacy effort resolution. Agreements with the IRS can be resolved through telephone calls or emails and are informal. Request an email from the IRS to document verbal agreements. A formal written agreement, i.e., Advocacy Proposal is not necessary.

  2. Document on the SAMS "Recommendations" tab significant recommendations made to the IRS. Update these recommendations as appropriate throughout the project. Examples of procedural changes include:

    1. Improved employee instructions;

    2. Process changes;

    3. Employee training; or

    4. Combined with another type of advocacy work, such as an MSP or task force.

  3. Outside of Clearance Process (OCP) submissions are used to submit recommendations through IMD/SPOC to the BODs outside of the normal clearance process. All OCPs submissions with the BODs need to be vetted through the IMD/SPOC Center for an STL to review to ensure TAS speaks with a consistent voice.

  4. If pursing an IRM change through the OCP, follow these steps:

    • Consult with the applicable TAS STL to secure their concurrence;

    • Alert the IRM author TAS is proposing a change; and

    • Email the OCP template to *TAS IMD/SPOC. See Exhibit 13.2.5-3.

  5. If the proposed recommendation was discussed with the BOD, advise the BOD to expect an OCP as follow up to the conversation.

  6. If necessary, team lead may contact *TAS IMD/SPOC for guidance on completing the OCP template.

  7. See IRM 1.11.13, Internal Management Documents System for more guidance on the OCP.

Published Guidance Proposal
  1. Published guidance plays an important role in increasing voluntary compliance by clarifying ambiguous areas of the tax law:

    • Promotes uniform application of tax laws;

    • Promotes voluntary compliance;

    • Reduces need for litigation;

    • Provides guidance for new laws;

    • Defines terms left undefined by Congress; and

    • Sets record keeping & reporting duties.

  2. Examples of published guidance include:

    • Treasury Decisions;

    • Revenue Rulings;

    • Actions on Decisions;

    • Notices;

    • Announcements; and

    • Other rulings and pronouncements.

  3. When recommending the IRS to revise published guidance or issue new guidance:

    • Gain management concurrence for the action;

    • Highlight the problem;

    • State why the IRS should change its position or issue new guidance; and

    • In the case of new guidance, do not identify the type of published guidance needed. The CNTA will make that decision.

Legislative Recommendation Proposal
  1. Propose a legislative recommendation when changes may be necessary to improve equity or fairness in the tax code, improve service to taxpayers, or reduce taxpayer burden. While the IRS may change its own administrative policies or procedures, only Congress may enact or amend laws.

  2. With management concurrence, submit the legislative change proposal to the ARC Office by using the ARC Potential Topic Submission form on SP.

  3. In situations where none of the above resolutions seems appropriate, discuss with the project manager. Issues may be more sensitive or need a quicker resolution than the processes above provide.

Closing an Advocacy Project

  1. After resolving the systemic issue(s), take the following steps to close the project:

    1. Discuss findings with the project manager;

    2. Attempt to contact and discuss the outcome of the project with the submitter. You are not required to make contact with submitters of issues that were associated to the project after it was created;

    3. Communicate changes resulting from the project with affected stakeholders, if warranted;

    4. Document each recommendation on the "Recommendations" tab on SAMS. Update all fields with the information available and others when it becomes available, such as "OD Response" and "Is Implemented" ;

    5. Complete the Project Closing Summary on the "Notes" tab on SAMS. The purpose of the summary is to provide a concise description of the systemic problem, if any, and outcomes.
      The project closing summary will contain:
      Issue – A non-technical description of the systemic problem;
      Research - Listing of the relevant IRMs, code section, etc.;
      Analysis - Key findings from research and analysis; and
      Conclusion - Advocacy efforts and outcomes.

    6. Discuss with the project manager whether to complete a draft BPR template for each project containing recommendations submitted during the quarter the recommendation was made.
      See Exhibit 13.2.5-4 BPR Template

  2. Team lead uploads initial closing documents, if any, to the Technical Advocacy Shared Documents SP site for review and emails the link to the project manager. Complete this action within 31 calendar days from the date the SAMS "Notes" tab was notated with the manager’s approval for project closure.

  3. Project manager will approve and forward email with link for closure to project director for approval.

  4. Project director reviews and closes the project on SAMS by completing the "Approval" tab. Project director will update the "Closed Reason" and "Actual End" fields on SAMS.

  5. Project director will notify designee of approval. Designee will perform the following within seven business days:

    • Upload closing documents to SAMS;

    • If needed, mail the closing letter; and

    • Provide TAG a copy of the project closing summary from the "Notes" tab on SAMS.

External Submitter Closing

  1. Contact the submitter using their stated preference, phone or closing letter. Discuss the outcome of the project and document on the "Notes" tab and label as "Submitter Contact" .

    Note:

    If unsuccessful in contacting the submitter by their stated preference, then proceed with sending a closing letter. Employees are required to add their Employee Identification Number with their contact information. All closing letters must be grammatically correct and free from errors. IRM 13.6.1, Taxpayer Advocate Service Communications, the IRM 1.10.1, Office of the Commissioner of Internal Revenue Service, IRS Correspondence Manual, the Gregg Reference Manual, and the TAS Writing & Style Guide may be used for guidance. See Exhibit 13.2.5-5 Advocacy Closing Letter template.

  2. Upload the closing letter for review to the Technical Advocacy Shared Documents SP site by all levels using current procedures provided by the manager. Send the closing letter link to the project manager in an email for approval.

    Note:

    Project Director or designee will upload closing documents to SAMS once approval process is completed.

  3. Contacting associated issue submitters is not required.

    Reminder:

    When preparing closing documents don’t use headers or input a date or add carbon copies (CCs). A designee will verify the correct names and titles listed on letters as "CC" .

Internal Submitter Closing

  1. Contact the submitter using their stated preference. Discuss the outcome of the project and document on the "Notes" tab and label as "Submitter Contact" . If submitter is anonymous and submission was input by TAS employee or other, document in SAMS on the "Notes" tab unable to locate or contact submitter.

  2. If the submitter stated an email is the preferred method of sharing the project outcome, send the submitter a copy of the "Project Closing Summary" in an email. See Exhibit 13.2.5-6.

  3. Contacting associated issue submitters is not required, though may be appropriate in some instances.

Closing Communications

  1. Determine the stakeholders with whom the project outcomes should be shared, and the appropriate communication channels. The appropriate stakeholders will depend on the nature of the systemic issues. For example, IRM changes that affect how case advocates work TAS cases may be appropriate for a TAS Welcome Screen message. Share items that may be appropriate for LITCs with the LITC Program Office Director via email.

    Examples of channels for sharing project outcomes may include:

    • Taxpayer Advocate Service Welcome Screen;

    • TAS Intranet Home Page;

    • Other TAS web pages;

    • TAS Toolkit;

    • TAS Forum for Managers;

    • IRS.gov;

    • E-news for Practitioners;

    • TAP;

    • Social media; or

    • Consider contacting TAS Communications, Stakeholder Liaison and Online Services (CSO) for education/awareness on the IRS.gov website regarding the outcome.

SAMS Closing Actions

  1. Once verbally approved by the project manager, the team lead completes the closing comments on the "Approval" tab on SAMS and an automatic notification will be sent to the project manager. On the project’s main screen, the project manager updates the "Closed Reason" by selecting from the drop the down menu.

    Example:


    Short description: Closing to project manager.
    Closing Comment: Closing summary to project manager for review.

    Note:

    Indicate one of the following in the closing comment: BPR submitted or BPR not necessary.


    Once saved, SAMS updates the project status to "Requiring Manager Approval for Closing" .

  2. The project manager completes the closing comments on the "Approval" tab and notifies the project director.

    Example:

    "Approval" tab verbiage example:
    Short description: Managerial closing review
    Closing Comment: Closing summary reviewed, approved, and forwarded to project director for approval. Once saved, SAMS updates the project status to "Director Approval for Closing."

  3. The project director reviews and adds comments to the "Approval" tab and checks the "Does project need to be monitored?" box if a recommendation is pending implementation. Once saved, SAMS updates the project to "Closed" or "Closed Monitor."

  4. On the project’s main screen the project director updates the "Actual End Date" field with the closure date.

Closed Project Status
  1. SA uses two types of closed project status: "Closed" and "Closed Monitored."

    1. Closed: The project director places a project that requires no further action into a "Closed" status on SAMS.

    2. Closed Monitored: The project director places a project that requires a follow-up into "Closed Monitored" status.

    3. To monitor the status of project recommendations, the team lead creates a task on the "Task" tab on SAMS as a reminder to follow up on the recommendations expected response date.

    4. The team lead updates the "Recommendations" tab and "Task" tab when the IRS takes an action and notifies the project manager. The project manager notifies the project director. The project director updates the project status to "Closed."

    5. There may be times when the IRS fails to implement the agreed upon changes. If that happens, discuss the situation with the project manager.

    6. Other options include, but aren’t limited to:
      • Follow-up with the process owner who agreed to the changes;
      • Discuss the issue with a STL;
      • Consider submitting an advocacy proposal;
      • Consider discussing the issue with CNTA;
      • Consider discussing the issue with DEDSA-TA, or;
      • Close the project with no further action.

      Note:

      Completing the "Approval" tab is final. Be sure the project is ready for closing before submitting for approval.


    If there are remaining issues, discuss with the project manager. Submit remaining issues on SAMS or SP to create another advocacy vehicle.

TAS Research Request

  • Discuss your decision to pursue a TAS Research Request with your manager. It may be determined that a conversation with TAS Research may assist with the decision to pursue a formal request.

  • Make sure information is not available elsewhere (e.g., IRWeb). Learn about the topic by looking for information in a variety of sources.

  • Think about information that might be available at a less precise level than what you want and see if that provides enough information to meet your needs - Thank about the information you have and if it is close enough to decide whether to move the project forward. For example, if you can find the number of taxpayers who file a certain form, but cannot idetinfy ow many were Married Filing Jointly who filed the form. Over one-hundred taxpayers file a form, but you cannot break down by the filing status. Does it matter if you cannot get the filing status? You could estimate based on overall filing status percentage for all forms, or say that only 100 people, at most, are impacted and will we spend time on this project that impacts 100 or fewer taxpayers.

  • Check the description for clarity and detail (e.g., specifies items like time periods, by Filing Year). Do not assume the person receiving the request has the same familiarity with the subject as you do.

    Note:

    It should be written so someone unfamiliar with your topic/premise can understand what information you want. Spell out words and describe accurately what you mean.

  • As only for information you will need/will use - Think about how you will use the information before asking for it. (e.g., employee names would not be printed in the ARC, so do not request them).

  • Request is reasonable (not excessive) - Think about how much material you are asking for and how you will present the data. If you are unsure how much data you should request, ask for advice (e.g., in most instances, ten years of detailed data is probably more that you need.

 

Memorandum to Request a Counsel Legal Opinion

Add the following format to TAS Memorandum Letterhead:
DATE:
TO: [Name]
COUNSEL
[CITY, STATE]
FROM:
[NAME]
EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR SYSTEMIC ADVOCACY
[DIVISION NAME]
SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR LEGAL OPINION
[BRIEF ONE-LINE DESCRIPTION OF ISSUE, E.G., PERIOD OF LIMITATION FOR FILING CLAIM]
Counsel opinion is requested with respect to the issue of [provide details as to the specific legal issue(s) (which may require several paragraphs and attachments)].
If you have any questions, you may call xxx-xxx-xxxx or [Systemic Advocacy Analyst name] directly in our [location] office at [telephone number and/or email address].
CC: Senior Advisor to the NTA
CC i.e., Analyst?
CC: DEDSA?

Out of Clearance Process Template

DATE:
TITLE:
REVIEWER/SUBMITTER:

IMD ID TPR/TPB Y/N TITLE: CURRENT TEXT TAS SME RECOMMENDATION
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         
         

Business Performance Review

Business Performance Review (BPR) Important Reminders

  • Ask yourself when writing or submitting an item: Why are we addressing this topic to the Commissioner and what makes it rise to his/her level?

  • The DNTA Perspective
    What do we want to tell the Commissioner?
    How do we want to tell or show him/her?
    Keep it high-level.
    Briefly state the issue, actions, and result.

    • When submitting your narrative, please designate which category or place your item fits best (see below).Also, be sure to spell out all acronyms, include iRM or policy titles, etc. Any data mentioned in a narrative or table MUST include all source documents or reports. When attaching these documents (to support data such as numbers, stats, references, quotes, etc.), please highlight was as submitted in the BPR so Business Assessment can identify the source easily.

      • Risk and Challenges - This is a stand alone page. If we don’t identify anything, that implies we have none. Do we have anything worth elevating?

      • Project Closing Summary - Do we have one item worth including on the Project Summary page? If so, it needs to be brief and effective.

      • Strategy 1 - Advocate changes in tax law or procedures that protect taxpayer rights, reduce taxpayer burden, and improve IRS effectiveness.

      • Strategy 2 - Improve TAS ability to identify and respond to taxpayer concerns.

      • Make sure your article includes:

        • Collaborative efforts with the IRS - How we worked together to achieve the goal of helping taxpayers.

        • Benefit(s) to the taxpayer.

        • Specific examples and numbers when talking about how many people were affected.

        • "Punchy" titles that really grab the reader.

        • Get to the point.

      • Here are examples:
        Example #1:
        Audits With No Changes Resulted In Defaulted Installment Agreements

      • ISSUE: The IRS assessed a zero failure to pay penalty on audits closed with no changes. Even though there was no additional tax, penalty or interest owing, the system defaulted a taxpayer installment agreement (IA) as if the IRS had assessed an additional tax liability. This caused a burden on taxpayers who had to contact the IRS to reinstate an IA defaulted in error.

      • ADVOCACY RESULTS: Because of TAS involvement, the IRS provided direction to its employees on how to close no change audits in a way that did not default IAs.

      • TAXPAYER IMPACT: TAS’s efforts reduced the burden on taxpayers with IAs involved in no change audits. In addition, te IRS will save resources by not having to respond to taxpayer calls and mail requesting reinstatement of their valid IAs.

      • Example #2:

      • IRS Actions Result In Disparate Treatment

      • ISSUE: The IRS failed to provide adequate written guidance on how to request abatement of the combined annual wage reporting (CAWR) penalty. This penalty applies when employers fail to report all wages that are reported to Social Security. This failure caused taxpayers to be treated differently. Some taxpayers required substantial justification for penalty abatement while others required no justification.

      • ADVOCACY RESULTS: Due to TAS’s involvement, the IRS clarified established guidelines with campus employees by correcting errors in two Internal Revenue Manuals (IRMs) which provides guidance for revenue officers. IRM 4.4.12.4.19.5, Examined Closings, Surveyed Claims, and Partial Assessments addressed the no change audit and IRM 5.1.15.7.1(5), Abatements, Reconsiderations and Adjustments, addressed the CAWR penalty guidance.

      • TAXPAYER IMPACT: These efforts will lead to consistent treatment of all taxpayers seeking CAWR penalty abatement. In addition, the IRS will reduce processing costs by providing better instructions on how to submit requests for abatement.

        Note:

        BPR submissions are submitted during the BPR quarter the actions/recommendations were made.

Advocacy Closing Letter Template

Mr./Mrs./Ms. Terry Doe, Associate Advocate
Taxpayer Advocate Service
P.O. Box 123
Stop: 1234 ABCD
City, State [zip code]


Dear Mr./Mrs./Ms. Doe:

This letter is in response to your Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS) submission. You expressed concern regarding [restate in your words a description of the submitter’s issue]. We assigned your submission to [insert your name and contact information (e.g., John Smith, Program Analyst]. You may reach John at (xxx) xxx-xxxx.

In researching your submission [this paragraph is used to indicate the research you conduced and your conclusion as a result of the research]. [For example, We spoke with representatives of Criminal Investigation (CI), sought the interpretation of Internal Revenue Service (IRS) counsel and reviewed sample Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) documents. The reasoning for the denial of hardship refunds... In other words, the IRS cannot refund to the taxpayer that which the taxpayer has already assigned away for consideration]. [If the result is no change, provide positive indicators of what the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is doing to make a difference in this area, if applicable]. [For example, the result would be different if... While we believe the denial of hardship refunds in these circumstance was appropriate, the National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) has serious concerns about the Refund Anticipation Loan (RAL) industry and addressed the need for oversight of RALs in her 2005 Annual Report to Congress, and continues to advocate for regulation over this industry].

Thank you for your participation in the advocacy program and we encourage you to contact our office in the future if you identify other systemic problems. If you have questions concerning this issue, you may contact the analyst listed above; write to us at 1111 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Room 3219, Washington, D.C. 20224; or email us at Systemic.Advocacy@irs.gov. Please refer to SAMS control number XXXXX when contacting our office.

Sincerely,

/s/ Kurt VanMatre
Deputy Director to Executive Director, Technical Advocacy, Systemic Advocacy
CC:

Note:

Designee will add appropriate contacts as a carbon copy (CC). Letters to external submitters require the signature of the Executive Director of Systemic Advocacy with a copy to the Deputy National Taxpayer Advocate (DNTA).

Note:

Closing Letters to external submitters should show employee identification number in first paragraph and below DEDSA-TA signature.

 

Project Closing Summary Email Template

Dear (Name of Submitter),

This is in response to your Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS)
submission titled, (insert name of project from SAMS submission).

I want to confirm our discussion on the resolution of your issue. We resolved/were
unable to resolve the issue by (insert one or two sentences or bullets describing the
actions taken by Systemic Advocacy and outcome of the project - how did we advocate).

I appreciate your participation in the advocacy program and encourage you to contact
our office in the future if you identify other systemic problems. Please contact me at
[insert phone number] if you have any questions. Please refer to SAMS control number
(insert project number) when contacting me.

(Insert Outlook Closing Signature, which includes your name, title, phone number, TOD,
time zone and ID number)

SA Quality Attributes

The initial delivery of the SA Measurement Program included the development of SA Quality Standards, completed and approved the NTA in September 2005. (Revision September 2020).

The standards fall within the following categories, advocacy focus, customer focus and procedural focus with assigned attributes.

Attribute Description
Advocacy Focus  
A1 Completed initial actions (New attribute
A2 Issues were elevated appropriately (New attribute)
A3 Was the advocacy proposal memorandum complete, correct and comprehensive? (New attribute)
A4 Project was fully developed (New attribute)
A5 SA appropriately handled new issues not identified in initial research (New attribute)
A6 Were all related issues correctly addressed?
A7 Was the proposed resolution appropriate?
Customer Focus  
C1 SA analyst provided initial contact information to the submitter during the initial contact?
C2 Did SA analyst contact the submitter in a timely manner?
C2a Did SA analyst make timely first contact with the submitter?
C2b Did the SA analyst make all subsequent contacts to the submitter in a timely manner?
C3 Was there contact and coordination with the appropriate internal and external stakeholders as required by the project?
Procedural Focus  
P1 SA analyst appropriately documented SAMS (New attribute)
P2 Does the action plan contain all required information?
P2a Description of each task or action item
P2b Due date or schedule due date for each task/action item.
P3 Was the initial action plan issued timely?
P3a Initial action plan submitted timely to manager?
P3b Manager approved the action plan timely?
P4 Did written communications follow proper correspondence guidelines?
P5 Were project completion requirements followed?
P5a Project completion requirements were followed for a project closing letter.
P5b Project completion requirements were followed for a project closing summary.
P6 Were subsequent actions timely?
P6a SA analyst took subsequent actions within 31 calendar days of a documented follow-up date.
P6b SA analyst took subsequent actions within 31 calendar days of the last action when SA analysts did not set a follow-date.
P7 Were the closing letter and Project Closing Summary submitted in a timely manner?
P7a Closing letter submitted timely to the manager.
P7b Project Closing Summary submitted timely to the manager.