21.3.11 Information Returns Reporting Procedures

Manual Transmittal

December 14, 2018

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 21.3.11, Taxpayer Contacts, Information Returns Reporting Procedures.

Material Changes

(1) IRM 21.3.11.1 (7), Program Scope and Objectives - Added (7) Program Goals.

(2) IRM 21.3.11.1.2 (6), Technical Services Operation Scope of Inquiry - Revised to add a new paragraph six to expand guidance relative to probing.

(3) IRM 21.3.11.3, Terms and Acronyms - Revised definition of ‘Filer’.

(4) IRM 21.3.11.4.1, Office of Disclosure - (5) Updated reference to Facsimile (FAX), Electronic Facsimile (E-FAX), and IRS Internal Enterprise Electronic Facsimile (EEFAX) Transmission of Tax Information IRS Internal Enterprise Electronic Facsimile. Updated to add reference to IRM 21.2.3, Transcripts. (6) Added information regarding the use of email and SBU data, included references to IRM 11.3.1.17.2, Electronic Mail and Secure Messaging and IRM 10.5.1.6.8, Email. (7) Removed internal use only Disclosure Help Desk telephone number and added guidance to the use of the Disclosure and Privacy Knowledge Base Site. (8) Updated link to Disclosure Website to Disclosure and Privacy Knowledge Base Site. (9) Added reference to ‘Bring Your Own Devise’ (BYOD) asset and updated the link to the Disaster Incident Reporting Site.

(5) IRM 21.3.11.4.3 (3), Privacy and Information Protection - Updated link to Disclosure Website to Disclosure and Privacy Knowledge Base Site.

(6) IRM 21.3.11.5, Safety and Security - Updated to add information regarding the use of the EMERGENCY/Record Call button on the phone. (1) Added information about the use of Emergency/Record Call telephone button.

(7) IRM 21.3.11.6, Resource/Research - In support of TSO Scope of Inquiry revised section to read: ‘Assistors have the training and resources available to them to perform their job of assisting and educating the customer. The assistors receive recruit training when appropriate, annual and ad hoc continuing professional education (CPE), and on the job training. The assistors use publications, instructions for specific forms, Internal Revenue Manuals (IRMs), Knowledge Articles, and EPSS Communications to assist and educate the customer.’

(8) IRM 21.3.11.6.1, Publications, Forms, Instructions and Other Reference Materials - (1) Changed to read, ‘The following provides a list of instructions, forms, and other reference material TSO may provide to the customer to answer questions relating to filing information returns electronically. Added Publication 1544, Federal Income Tax and FICA Withholding for Foreign Agricultural Workers With an H-2A Visa. (2) Removed a bullet that referenced Internal Revenue Code and Regulations; Revenue Rulings, Revenue Procedures and Notices. Added Form 1099-LS and Form 1099-SB to the list of forms.

(9) IRM 21.3.11.6.4, Organization, Function and Program - Removed table with OFP codes and replaced with a link to the TSO OFP Desk Guide.

(10) IRM 21.3.11.7.1, Title changed to Computer Telephony Integration Object Server (CTIOS) Soft Telephone System - Updated entire section to reflect change to CTIOS.

(11) IRM 21.3.11.7.1.1, Reason Codes for Idle - Updated section to reflect changes made by the change to CTIOS Soft Telephone System.

(12) IRM 21.3.11.7.2, Telephone Etiquette - Updated for organizational continuity to reflect guidance in IRM 3.42.7.14.2, Telephone Etiquette.

(13) IRM 21.3.11.7.3, Customer Complaints and Comment - Updated for organizational continuity to reflect guidance in IRM 3.42.7.

(14) IRM 21.3.11.7.4, Escalation Path for Assistance - Removed references to Split One and Split Two. Provided guidance to assistors to direct complex issues to a lead or manager.

(15) IRM 21.3.11.7.5, Transferring, Elevating, and Referring Calls - Updated reference to reflect IRM 3.42.7.14.6Transferring Calls and Interaction/Incidents. Added #92466 Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Registration and FATCA International Compliance Management Model (ICMM).

(16) IRM 21.3.11.8.1, Responding to the Customer - Added a bullet to read, probe the customer.

(17) IRM 21.3.11.8.2 (2), Referring Customers to Other Areas and Resources - Added a reference to Knowledge Management Article (Solution) KM000243, EPSS and Unsupported Product Contact Information.

(18) IRM 21.3.11.9 , Authentication and Authorization Guidelines - (2) Updated link to Disclosure and Privacy Knowledge Base Site. Updated URL for the Disclosure portal https://portal.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/vl003/pages/default.aspx. (4) Added reference to IRM 3.42.9.3, TSO Authentication and Authorization Guidelines. (5) - Added reference to IRM 3.42.9.6 Contacting the Customer Outgoing Calls.

(19) IRM 21.3.11.9.1.1, Third-Party Authentication - Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative and Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization - Section content has been minimized and replaced with a link to full content located in IRM 3.42.9.3.7.1, Third-Party Authentication - Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative and Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization. Removed table with duplicate information.

(20) IRM 21.3.11.10.3.1 (4), Responding to Email Inquiries - Revised to read, ‘Do not copy tax law or lengthy information from a source into your response’.

(21) IRM 21.3.11.11.1 (3), The FIRE System - Added reference to Publication 1220, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 1097,1098,1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G and Publication 1187, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 1042-S, Foreign Person’s US Source Income Subject to Withholding.

(22) IRM 21.3.11.11.2, Form 4419 Application to File Information Returns Electronically - Updated Form 4419 to reflect (Rev. June 2018).

(23) IRM 21.3.11.12, Notices Addressed in TSO - Added Notice 972CG, Proposed Civil Penalty and CP 215, Civil Penalty.

(24) IRM 21.3.11.12.2 (2), Notice CP 2100 and Notice CP 2100A - Added reference to Publication 1281, Backup Withholding on Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs.

(25) IRM 21.3.11.12.2.1, Payments Subject to Backup Withholding - Updated section to address TSO change in scope and removed tax law references.

(26) IRM 21.3.11.12.2.2 (2), Missing TINs - Added reference to flowcharts in Publication 1281, Backup Withholding on Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs and removed table with redundant information.

(27) IRM 21.3.11.12.2.3, Incorrect Name/TINs or Not Currently Issued TINs - Updated to clarify definitions. Added reference to flowcharts in Publication 1281, Backup Withholding on Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs. Removed table with redundant information.

(28) IRM 21.3.11.12.2.4, Spring Pass Notice Corrections - Added new tridoc to address special spring pass notice situations. All subsequent sections renumbered accordingly.

(29) IRM 21.3.11.12.2.5, Erroneous Backup Withholding - Updated section to address TSO change in scope and removed tax law reference. Added reference to Publication 1281, Backup Withholding on Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs.

(30) IRM 21.3.11.12.2.6, Verifying the Receipt of a Notice - (3) Added reference to IRM 3.42.9.14.4, Request to Recreate Notice CP 2100 and CP 2100A. (7) Added reference to IRM 3.42.9.14.4, Request to Recreate Notice CP 2100 and CP 2100A and IRM 3.42.9.15, Recreate Notice 972CG.

(31) IRM 21.3.11.13 (3), Notice of Penalty - Added CP 215, Civil Penalty. Added (5) and (6) to provide the source for an explanation of penalties.

(32) IRM 21.3.11.14, Information Return Penalties - Updated section to address TSO change in scope and removed tax law reference and provide the source for an explanation of penalties.

(33) IRM 21.3.11.16.2, Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) Inquiries - Updated section to address TSO change in scope and removed tax law reference. (4) and (5) - Added reference to Publication 5144, Federal Income Tax and FICA Withholding for Foreign Agricultural Workers with an H-2A Visa.

(34) Various sections, minor grammatical and editorial changes throughout the IRM.

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 21.3.11 dated 12/19/2017, (effective 01/01/2018) is superseded. This IRM also incorporates the following IRM Procedural Update (IPU) - 18U0108 (issued 01/12/2018).

Audience

The primary audience is Customer Service Section employees in the Technical Services Operation, Electronic Products and Services Support.

Effective Date

(01-01-2019)

Related Resources

This IRM should be used in conjunction with IRM 3.42.9, Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE), and IRM 3.42.7, EPSS Help Desk Support.

Patricia LaPosta
Director, Electronic Products and Services Support
Wage and Investment Division

Program Scope and Objectives

  1. Purpose: The Electronic Products and Services Support (EPSS) organization is a stand-alone organization reporting to the Director, Customer Accounts Services (CAS) in the Wage & Investment (W&I) Division. EPSS is a centralized office for the management of IRS electronic products and services within W&I CAS. The EPSS vision is to Advance IRS electronic business opportunities to meet the changing demands of the future while delivering a positive customer experience. The mission is to support customer-valued e-solutions for Service-wide electronic products and services. Visit the EPSS web site at http://win.web.irs.gov/epss_home.html for more information.

  2. EPSS Technical Services Operation (TSO) serves as a focal point for electronic processing related to the Information Reporting Program (IRP). TSO coordinates, develops, maintains, and controls operational aspects of the IRP where businesses, financial institutions, federal, state, and local governments submit information returns electronically through the Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) System.

  3. Audience: These procedures are used by Technical Services Operation (TSO) Customer Service Section (CSS) employees who provide telephone support to the payer/employer community. They are also intended for managers, analysts, business owners, and others who provide support to internal and external stakeholders regarding the Information Reporting Program.

  4. Policy Owners: Director, Electronic Products and Services Support (EPSS).

  5. Program Owner: Electronic Products and Services Support, Technical Services Operation.

  6. Primary Stakeholders: All IRS users of the Information Return Program.

  7. Program Goals: To provide direction and support to information return external stakeholders. Direct customers to appropriate resources to resolve issues relative to electronic and paper filing requirements.

Background

  1. TSO consists of four segments:

    • Customer Service Section (CSS)

    • Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) Support (FS)

    • Information Filing Support (IFS)

    • Products and Services Support (PSS)

  2. TSO provides assistance via telephone and electronic mail received from the payer/employer community regarding the filing of information returns. Inquiries relate to preparation, submission of electronic files, and supporting programs. TSO assistors do not provide a legal opinion or position, and do not answer individual tax law inquiries. See 21.3.11.1.2, Technical Services Operation Scope of Inquiry.

  3. Supported forms and programs are:

    • Affordable Care Act (ACA) registration and testing

    • Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) online registration

    • Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) International Compliance Management Model (ICMM)

    • Form 1042-S, Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding

    • Form 1094-B, Transmittal of Health Coverage Information Returns

    • Form 1094-C, Transmittal of Employer-Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage Information Returns

    • Form 1095-B, Health Insurance Coverage

    • Form 1095-C, Employer Provided Health Insurance Offer and Coverage

    • Form 1097-BTC, Bond Tax Credit

    • Form 1098 series

    • Form 1099 series

    • Form 3921, Exercise of an Incentive Stock Option Under Section 422(b)

    • Form 3922, Transfer of Stock Acquired Through an Employee Stock Purchase Plan Under Section 423(c)

    • Form 4419, Application for Filing Information Returns Electronically

    • Form 5498 series

    • Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips

    • Form 8508, Request for Waiver From Filing Information Returns Electronically

    • Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits

    • Form 8596, Information Return for Federal Contracts

    • Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns

    • Form 8966, FATCA Report as it relates to technical support for specific error notifications issued during the download and processing of Form 8966

    • Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement

    • Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement

    • Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings

    • Form W-3, Transmittal of Wage and Tax Statement

    • Form W-3c, Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statement

  4. Users of the IRS Information Return Program include, but are not limited to, the following:

    • Attorneys

    • Certified Public Accountants (CPA)

    • Financial Institutions

    • Foreign Financial Institutions

    • Governmental Agencies

    • Government Contractors

    • Information Return Filer/Payer

    • Intermediate Service Providers (ISP)

    • Large Corporations

    • Software Developers

    • State Taxing Authorities

    • Taxpayer Assistance Centers (TAC)

    • Transmitters

  5. The E-Help Support System (EHSS) provides a holistic view of a customer's contact history with the EPSS Help Desks. Each contact with the customer is documented in EHSS as an Interaction/Incident. An Interaction/Incident is the electronic version of a customer's contact. If the Interaction/Incident is still open and the customer is providing/requesting additional information on the same issue, document and update the activities section of the Interaction/Incident.

    Note:

    It may not be necessary to create an Interaction for a call that is being transferred. See 3.42.7.14.6.2, Escalating/Transferring Interactions.

  6. The assistors create Interactions/Incidents to record the customer information, problem details, and resolution of the issue.

Technical Services Operation Scope of Inquiry

  1. Technical Services Operation (TSO) scope is to direct customers to the resources they need to address their issue(s) and does not provide detailed or complex responses. The areas discussed in (2) through (5) below are beyond the level of service and are considered Out-of-Scope (OOS).

  2. Tax form and schedule preparation that is defined as:

    1. Use of taxpayer information to provide “line-by-line” assistance in the completion of all or most of a form/schedule.

    2. Performance of “line-by-line” computations and guidance on what to enter on each line (although not necessarily every line).

    3. Verification of form/schedule entries after completion by the taxpayer.

  3. Tax planning that is defined as a request as to whether one course of action is favored over another.

  4. Legal opinions are not provided; however, assistors can refer callers to the applicable law or revenue procedure number as documented in instructions and publications. Use of Lexus-Nexus is Out-of-Scope and would indicate a highly complex tax issue. See (5)

  5. Highly complex tax issues are inquiries that require analysis and interpretation to achieve inquiry resolution.

  6. Probe to determine the customers topic of inquiry. Below are a few examples:

    • Identify form

    • Determine if customer has access to the internet

    • Identify the customer’s role, are they a transmitter, accountant, owner/payer for a business etc.

    • Identify the purpose for the call

    • Determine what actions the customer wants to achieve, for example, file a paper return, apply for a transmitter control code (TCC) to file electronically, correct an electronic file

  7. Assistors should determine and advise customer of their options for obtaining the information requested. Provide essential elements of information on tax law topics and guide customers to resources available for self-help. Below are some examples of essential elements of information:

    • Due dates of returns and location of the source information

    • Instruction on how to obtain a form

    • Related publications as it may relate to a form or tax law topic

    • Recommendation for the customer to contact a paid preparer for inquiry resolution

Roles and Responsibilities

  1. All employees complete duties in accordance with Policy Statement 1-236, Fairness and Integrity in Enforcement Selection. Refer to IRM 1.2.10, Servicewide Policies and Authorities, Policy Statements for Organization, Finance and Management Activities.

  2. All assignments are executed in accordance with the Taxpayer Bill of Rights as listed in IRC Section 7803(a)(3). Additional information can be found on the irs.gov website at https://www.irs.gov/taxpayer-bill-of-rights.

  3. The Director of EPSS is responsible for supporting customer-valued e-solutions for Service-wide electronic products and services.

  4. The TSO Operation Chief is responsible for serving as a focal point for electronic information return processing.

  5. TSO is responsible for preserving the privacy and security of taxpayer data received through the FIRE System. All employees must be aware of all requirements pertaining to transmitter/filer and taxpayer data as described in IRM 10.8.1, Information Technology (IT) Security.

Terms and Acronyms

  1. The following definitions are utilized in IRM 21.3.11, Taxpayer Contacts, Information Returns Reporting Procedures:

    • Filer - Any person required to file an information return.

    • Transmitter - Sends electronic information return data directly to the IRS on behalf of a business or individual.

    • Software Developer - Writes origination or transmission software according to IRS specifications.

    • Withholding Agent - Any person, U.S. or foreign person, that has control, receipt, custody, disposal, or payment of any item or income of a foreign person that is subject to withholding.

Impact on Other Offices

  1. Employees are required to be aware of the policies and procedures of other IRS offices that impact the Technical Services Operation (TSO). This section details some of those offices.

Office of Disclosure

  1. The Office of Disclosure administers the provisions of IRC Section 6103, confidentiality and disclosure of tax returns and return information. All IRS employees are responsible for ensuring that taxpayer confidentiality is protected, and tax records are properly safeguarded and disclosed only as provided by law.

  2. TSO employees must take measures to prevent the unauthorized disclosure of information. When giving information, verify that the customer is authorized to receive it. Disclose only what is necessary when giving information to third parties. Follow the authentication/authorization guidelines in IRM 21.3.11.9, Authentication and Authorization Guidelines.

  3. Answering machines and voice mail are frequently used when communicating with taxpayers, representatives, and other IRS employees. These systems are not secure and must not be used to transmit sensitive information, including tax information, except under the provisions of IRC Section 6103 . Guidelines for leaving information on answering machines/voice mail can be found in IRM 11.3.2.7.1, Leaving Information on Answering Machines/Voice Mail.

  4. Privacy, Governmental Liaison and Disclosure has developed rules to deal with disclosures of Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) information (including PII and tax information) when using cell phones or other cordless devices. Refer to IRM 11.3.2.7.2, Use of Cell Phones and Cordless Devices and IRM 10.5.1.6.3,Computers and Mobile Computing Devices section.

  5. Faxing of tax information to other IRS offices is permitted consistent with existing internal rules. See IRM 11.3.1.14, Facsimile (FAX), Electronic Facsimile (E-FAX), and IRS Internal Enterprise Electronic Facsimile (EEFAX) Transmission of Tax Information, for guidance in faxing information of taxpayers and their authorized representatives. Also see IRM 21.2.3, Transcripts, that provides information regarding the Services policy to cease faxing taxpayer transcripts.

  6. Employees must not send emails containing SBU data to other government agencies, taxpayers or their authorized representatives, even if requested, because of the risk of improper disclosure or exposure. For limited allowable situations for emailing with SBU data, see IRM 11.3.1.17.2, Electronic Mail and Secure Messaging, for general rules. Additionally, see IRM 10.5.1.6.8, Email, regarding the protection of all IRS SBU data (including PII and tax information) and using IRS email accounts to conduct IRS official business.

  7. Answers to other questions on Disclosure, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), and the Privacy Act, can be found in IRM 11.3.1,Introduction to Disclosure. Additionally, Disclosure has a resource page on IRS Source, under “Popular Tools & Services.” The Disclosure and Privacy Knowledge Base Site offers information on multiple topics, including who can access tax data, through the “Access and Authentication” link. If you still have disclosure questions after reviewing the information on this site, consult with your lead or manager. Disclosure has a Help Desk, and the number can be found under “Disclosure Basics and Contacts,” “Contact Disclosure.”

    Note:

    The Disclosure Help Desk is for IRS use ONLY, and the number cannot be given to the customer.

  8. Employees must report an inadvertent disclosure of sensitive information, whether it be electronically, verbally or in hardcopy form, or the loss or theft of an IT asset or ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) Asset, within one hour by filling out the appropriate form located on IRS Source under "Incident Reporting" "Data Protection" tab. This link will bring you to the Report Losses, Thefts or Disclosure page at https://portal.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/vl003/lists/reportlossestheftsdisclosures/landingview.aspx. Also refer to IRM 10.5.4, Privacy and Information Protection, Incident Management Program.

Taxpayer Advocate Service

  1. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS whose employees assist taxpayers who are experiencing economic harm, who are seeking help in resolving tax problems that have not been resolved through normal channels, or who believe that an IRS system or procedure is not working as it should. Criteria that qualify taxpayers for TAS assistance include economic burden, systemic burden, best interest of the taxpayer, and public policy (as determined solely by the National Taxpayer Advocate). TAS is responsible for assisting taxpayers who have unresolved problems with the IRS. See IRM 13.1.7,Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Case Criteria, if additional information is required.

  2. While the IRS is continually working to serve customers in a quality manner, some taxpayers still have difficulty getting solutions to their problems or getting timely and appropriate responses to their inquiries. Per IRC Section 7803(c), Congress established the Office of the Taxpayer Advocate (referred to as TAS) and it’s functions within the IRS to assist these taxpayers. TAS has identified criteria that qualify taxpayers for TAS assistance. The Case Advocate will conduct an independent review of actions that have been taken or need to be taken to resolve the problems taxpayers are experiencing.

  3. Employees should not view TAS Case Criteria as a means of excluding taxpayers from TAS, but rather, as a guide to TAS case acceptance. The criteria under which TAS accepts a case should not govern whether a taxpayer is entitled to relief.

  4. Refer taxpayers to the Taxpayer Advocate Service when the contact meets TAS criteria and you can't resolve the taxpayer's issue the same day. The definition of "same day" is within 24 hours. "Same day" cases include cases you can completely resolve in 24 hours, as well as cases in which you have taken steps within 24 hours to begin resolving the taxpayer's issue. Do not refer these "same day" cases to TAS unless they meet TAS criteria and the taxpayer asks to be transferred to TAS. Refer to IRM 13.1.7.4,Same Day Resolution by Operations. When referring cases to TAS, use Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance (and Application for Taxpayer Assistance Order), and forward it to TAS in accordance with your local procedures.

    Note:

    It is important that all IRS employees handle potential TAS cases with the taxpayer's best interest in mind. For more information, refer to IRM 21.1.3.18, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Guidelines. Provide the taxpayer with the number for the NTA case intake line, 877-777-4778 or TTY-TDD, 800-829-4059. The taxpayer should be advised that TAS is available if the taxpayer is not satisfied with the service he or she received.

  5. An IRS employee should make a referral to a TAS office if the employee receives a taxpayer contact, and cannot initiate action to resolve the inquiry or provide the relief requested. A taxpayer does not have to specifically request TAS assistance to be referred to TAS. IRS employees will advise taxpayers of the option to seek TAS assistance when appropriate. TAS will request documentation from the taxpayer if it is needed to support the requested relief or required by the IRM.

  6. The following types of cases should not be referred to TAS:

    1. Cases where the taxpayer's complaint or inquiry only questions the constitutionality of the tax system; or

    2. Cases where the focus of the taxpayer's inquiry is solely to employ frivolous tax strategies to avoid or delay filing federal tax returns or paying federal taxes.

Privacy and Information Protection

  1. Privacy and Information Protection was established to address the increase in identity theft and data loss trends and the need for an IRS authority on policy, procedure, roles, and governance policy. Identity theft is a crime where someone unlawfully possesses, transfers, or uses another’s identifying information in connection with an unlawful activity. That information can include but is not limited to a Social Security Number (SSN), birth date, address, bank account Information, and tax records.

  2. If you receive a call from a taxpayer who has received a suspicious, bogus, or phishing email that claims to be from the IRS, advise the taxpayer to send (forward) the email to the electronic mailbox, phishing@irs.gov. The IRS does not:

    • Initiate taxpayer communications through email

    • Request detailed personal information through email

    • Send email requesting PIN numbers, passwords or similar access information for credit cards, banks or other financial accounts

  3. See IRM 21.1.3.23, Scams (Phishing) and Fraudulent Schemes, and IRM 25.23, Identity Protection and Victim Assistance, for additional information. Also visit the Disclosure and Privacy Knowledge Base Site for additional information at https://portal.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/vl003/lists/reportlossestheftsdisclosure/landingview.aspx.

Safety and Security

  1. Although most customers who call are congenial, there is the possibility that calls of a threatening nature may be received. For additional information, see IRM 21.1.3.10,Safety and Security Overview.

    Note:

    If the customer is verbally abusive, whether a threat is made or not, the assistor should press the Emergency/Record Call button on the phone. This will alert management and the SA staff that there is an issue. The assistor is not required to remain on the telephone. Tell the customer that you are terminating the call and then hang up. For additional information, see IRM 21.1.3.10, Safety and Security Overview.

  2. If a customer makes a suicide threat over the telephone, follow the procedures in IRM 21.1.3.12,Suicide Threats.

  3. Your work area should be kept safe and secure. For detailed information see IRM 21.1.3.10.1,Personal Safety.

  4. If a customer makes a bomb threat over the telephone, follow the procedures in IRM 21.1.3.10.7, Bomb Threats.

Resources/Research

  1. Assistors have the training and resources available to them to perform their job (i.e., assisting and educating the customer). Assistors aid and educate the customer through publications, instructions for specific forms, Internal Revenue Manuals (IRMs), Knowledge Articles, and EPSS Communications. Assistors receive recruit training when appropriate, on the job training, and continuing professional education (CPE).

Publications, Forms, Instructions and Other Reference Materials

  1. The following is a list of publications (pubs) used by TSO to answer questions related to the filing of information returns.

    • Publication 15, (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide

    • Publication 15-A, Employer's Supplemental Tax Guide

    • Publication 15-B, Employer's Tax Guide to Fringe Benefits

    • Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax (For Individuals)

    • Publication 51, (Circular A), Agricultural Employer's Tax Guide

    • Publication 54, Tax Guide for U.S. Citizens and Resident Aliens Abroad

    • Publication 334, Tax Guide for Small Business (For Individuals Who Use Schedule C or C-EZ)

    • Publication 515, Withholding of Tax on Nonresident Aliens and Foreign Entities

    • Publication 517, Social Security and Other Information for Members of the Clergy and Religious Workers

    • Publication 521, Moving Expenses

    • Publication 525, Taxable and Nontaxable Income

    • Publication 535, Business Expenses

    • Publication 560, Retirement Plans for Small Businesses (SEP, SIMPLE, and Qualified Plans)

    • Publication 575, Pension and Annuity Income

    • Publication 590-A, Contributions to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)

    • Publication 590-B, Distributions from Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs)

    • Publication 926, Household Employer's Tax Guide

    • Publication 957, Reporting Back Pay and Special Wage Payments to the Social Security Administration

    • Publication 963, Federal-State Reference Guide

    • Publication 969, Health Savings Accounts and Other Tax-Favored Health Plans

    • Publication 970, Tax Benefits for Education

    • Publication 1141, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms W-2 and W-3

    • Publication 1179, General Rules and Specifications For Substitute Forms 1096, 1098, 1099, 5498, and Certain Other Information Returns

    • Publication 1187, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 1042-S, Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding

    • Publication 1220,Specifications for Electronic Filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G

    • Publication 1223, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms W-2c and W-3c

    • Publication 1239, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips

    • Publication 1281, Backup Withholding for Missing and Incorrect Name/TIN(s)

    • Publication 1516, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 8596, Information Return for Federal Contracts

    • Publication 1544, Federal Income Tax and FICA Withholding for Foreign Agricultural Workers with an H-2A Visa

    • Publication 1586, Reasonable Cause Regulations and Requirements for Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs

    • Publication 1779, Independent Contractor or Employee

    • Publication 1976, Do You Qualify for Relief under Section 530?

    • Publication 4341, Information Guide for Employers Filing Form 941 or Form 944

    • Publication 4810, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statement of Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits

    • Publication 5165, Guide for Electronically Filing Affordable Care Act (ACA) Information Returns for Software Developers and Transmitters

  2. The following lists instructions, forms, and other reference material TSO may provide to the customer to answer questions related to the filing of information returns.

    • Form 4419, Application for Filing Information Returns Electronically

    • Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips

    • Form 8508, Request for Waiver From Filing Information Returns Electronically

    • Form 8809, Application for Extension of Time to File Information Returns

    • Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits

    • General Instructions for Certain Information Returns (Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G)

    • General Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3

    • Instructions for Form W-9

    • Instructions for the Requester of Form W-9

    • Instructions for Forms 1094-B and 1095-B

    • Instructions for Forms 1094-C and 1095-C

    • Form 1096 Instructions

    • Instructions for Form 1097-BTC

    • Instructions for Form 1098

    • Instructions for Form 1098-C

    • Instructions for Forms 1098-E and 1098-T

    • Instructions for Form 1098-Q

    • Instructions for Forms 1099-A and 1099-C

    • Instructions for Form 1099-B

    • Instructions for Form 1099-CAP

    • Instructions for Form 1099-DIV

    • Instructions for Form 1099-G

    • Instructions for Form 1099-H

    • Instructions for Forms 1099-INT and 1099-OID

    • Instructions for Form 1099-K

    • Instructions for Form 1099-LS

    • Instructions for Form 1099-LTC

    • Instructions for Form 1099-MISC

    • Instructions for Form 1099-PATR

    • Instructions for Form 1099-Q

    • Instructions for Forms 1099-R and 5498

    • Instructions for Form 1099-S

    • Instructions for Form 1099-SB

    • Instructions for Forms 1099-SA and 5498-SA

    • Instructions for Forms 3921 and 3922

    • Instructions for Form 5498-ESA

    • Instructions for Forms W-2G and 5754

E-Help Support System (EHSS) Knowledge Articles/Solutions

  1. The assistors have a set of predefined solutions available in E-Help Support System (EHSS) when responding to customer inquiries. For example, underreporter, recreate a notice, or procedural issue.

  2. Selecting the appropriate solution relative to the customer's issue will ensure the customer receives a complete and accurate response to their inquiry.

Electronic Products and Services Support (EPSS) Communications

  1. EPSS Communications are email messages sent to individual assistors in an effort to improve communications between the e-help Desk sites, TSO, EPSS Headquarters, and national office business analysts. EPSS Communications provide information regarding new and/or revised solutions, site closures, and other pertinent information. Programming changes to EHSS or other systems/applications supported by EPSS may also be communicated this way.

Organization, Function, and Program

  1. Organization, Function, and Program (OFP) codes are recorded on Form 3081, Employee Time Report, to identify work that IRS employees perform daily. Time must be reported under the appropriate OFP codes for tracking and budget purposes. For a complete list of codes see the TSO OFP Code Desk Guide located on the EPSS SERP Portal.

Communications

  1. The Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998 (RRA 98), Section 3705, provides identification requirements for all IRS employees working tax related matters. All employees, are required to provide (at a minimum) the following information to each customer who joins the call:

    • Your title (e.g., Mr., Mrs., Ms., Miss), last name and identification (Smart ID Card Badge) number, or

    • Your first name, last name, and identification (Smart ID Card Badge) number.

  2. You must provide the information in paragraph (1) in a professional and courteous manner when you communicate with a customer by telephone.

    Note:

    The Smart Identification (SmartID) card is a standardized identification card for Federal employees and contractors. This new ID card is required by Homeland Security as per Presidential Directive-12. The SmartID has a 10-digit number string called a Personal Identification (PID) Number that is printed on the front of the card. Employees must use their 10-digit Smart ID Badge Number (including no spaces or dashes, example, 10000XXXXX) when communicating with taxpayers.

  3. Follow IRM 21.3.11.8.1Responding to the Customer and IRM 21.3.11.7.2Telephone Etiquette for further guidance.

Computer Telephony Integrations Object Server (CTIOS) Soft Telephone System

  1. The routing of calls to TSO is managed using the UCCE soft telephone system via the Intelligent Contact Management (ICM). This system provides for call routing capabilities, including queuing, reporting, and toll-free service.

  2. At the start of a shift, users must sign onto the CTIOS soft telephone system using both their telephone and desktop computer. The user will not be able to login to take calls using just their telephone – they must login using the CTIOS Desktop.

  3. The user will need the following information to login:

    • Login Name = IRS SEID

    • Password

    • Six-digit instrument number located on the user’s telephone

  4. Select the "Ready Button" ; if it is not selected the system will default to "Idle" with no Reason Code. See IRM 21.3.11.7.1.1, Reason Codes for Idle.

  5. Calls are automatically routed to the next available assistor.

  6. When the call has been completed, the telephone will be placed in "Wrap Up" . Whenever possible, all work should be completed before a call is released. If extra time is needed at the end of a call, use "Wrap-up" while finishing the work before taking another call. Then, select "Ready" .

  7. At the end of a shift, log out of the system using the "Logout Button" this will log you out of the IUP- ER CTIOS.

  8. ELMS Course 62844, Agent CTIOS and Telephone Training, includes a module on Telephone Procedures and Updates. Refer to the lesson for instructions on the functionality of the IUP-CTIOS soft telephone system.

Reason Codes for Idle
  1. Idle is an IUP CTIOS status used by assistors to capture time when not in "Ready" , "Hold" , or "Wrap-up" status. It is a broad status, controlled by assistors and used to record times for meetings, breaks, research, lunch, and training.

  2. When not available for incoming calls, TSO assistors must follow the procedures below:

    Note:

    The information below does not apply to Accounts Management employees. Accounts Management employees should adhere to the Accounts Management guidelines for Idle.

    Telephone Reason Code Explanations
    Reason Code Status Explanation
    1 Temporarily Off the Telephone Use this code when you will be unavailable for telephone work for a period of time not specified by other reason codes. Examples are individual meetings with a manager, counseling, Form 3081 preparation, National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) official duties and rest room breaks.
    2 Inventory, First Available Use this code when you are available for telephone work, if necessary, but your work assignment is working Interactions/Incidents of your EHSS work list, or recording Interactions after a system downtime.
    3 Paper Inventory Use this code when you will be available for telephone work, if necessary, but your work assignment is working paper inventory.
    4 Training, partly available Use this code when you will be unavailable for telephone work during a specified portion of the tour of duty (TOD) because of training related activities. Examples include partial day off-site, on the job training (OJT), or instructor preparation. Do not sign on to the telephones if you will be in training during your entire TOD.
    5 Read Time Use this code when you will not be available for telephone work during a specified portion of the TOD because of read time.
    6 Meeting Time Use this code when you will not be available for telephone work during a specified portion of the TOD because of team meeting time.
    7 Break Time Use this code when you will be unavailable for telephone work during a specified portion of your TOD because of a scheduled rest break (other than lunch) or unavailable to relieve a stressful situation.
    8 Lunch Time Use this code when you will be unavailable for telephone work during a specified portion of the TOD because of a scheduled lunch break.

Telephone Etiquette

  1. The way a call is handled either enhances or damages the reputation of the organization. It is vital that each call be managed pleasantly and efficiently.

  2. Customers expect timely, accurate and professional service. The tips below will help you to establish a positive relationship with the customer.

    1. Use the standard initial greeting for answering calls. See IRM 21.3.11.7.2.1, Initial Telephone Greeting.

    2. Speak slowly, and clearly.

    3. Avoid the tendency to display laziness or impatience after saying the same greeting numerous times daily.

    4. Have a pad and pen ready for notations. Address the customer by their title (Mr. or Ms.) and last name if provided.

    5. Show genuine interest in the customer and enthusiastically try to solve their problem or answer their questions. Communicate friendliness and a willingness to help.

    6. Stay calm and use a well-planned approach for disgruntled customers. Apologize for any IRS error and inform the customer of our plan to take corrective action. If there are steps the customer needs to take, advise them of what they need to do.

    7. Never let your voice reveal that the last customer was rude and insulting, or displace anger onto the next customer.

    8. Don’t use IRS jargon or acronyms that may confuse customers.

    9. Ask permission to place the customer on hold and wait for a response. Don’t keep the customer on hold more than five minutes to research information without returning to the customer. If you must place the customer on hold again, provide the customer an explanation and apology.

      Note:

      Don’t mute calls when research is being conducted. Place the customer on hold or continue speaking.

    10. Never eat or drink while talking on the telephone.

    11. Avoid side conversations when you have a customer on the line.

    12. Use courteous phrases such as “Thank you, Mr. Brown”, “Thank you for holding”, or other appropriate expressions.

    13. Refrain from speculating why certain policy decisions are made and from expressing personal opinions about procedures and processes.

    14. Provide the customer only information that can be substantiated by a reference to an official source, such as a publication or IRS website, or to information researched using an IRS research tool such as Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS).

    15. Provide the customer with the Interaction/Incident number on each elevated case or if you need to call the customer back.

    16. To indicate closure, confirm the customer’s questions and needs have been addressed.

  3. Employees may bring personal cell phones into the work place, but they are only to be used during breaks, lunchtime, or prior to or after an employee’s official tour of duty. Employees will not interrupt their calls and conversations with taxpayers, third parties, and or other IRS employees to take an incoming call on their personal cell phones. This also includes incoming and outgoing phone media such as text messages, and emails. All personal cell phones must be silenced to avoid distractions and disturbances during working hours.

Initial Telephone Greeting
  1. The initial greeting must include your title, your name and your badge number. Employees must use the 10-digit SmartID Badge Number (including no spaces or dashes, example, 10000XXXXX) when communicating with taxpayers.

  2. Section 3706 of the IRS RRA 98 authorizes the use of pseudonyms by IRS employees only if adequate justification for the use is provided by the employee and it's use is approved by the employee's manager.

  3. Section 3706 is intended to eliminate any taxpayer perception that employees avoid accountability for their actions using pseudonyms, while still protecting an employee's right to use pseudonyms in appropriate circumstances. See IRM 10.5.7, Use of Pseudonyms by IRS Employees.

Customer Complaints and Comments

  1. EPSS values customer feedback as a means of achieving customer satisfaction. If the customer complains, it is EPSS policy to answer the complaint and solve the customer’s problem whenever possible. Always apologize for any IRS error.

  2. Professionalism and courtesy in dealing with internal and external customers are essential competencies. Customers must be treated with courtesy regardless of the source of the contact (phone, email, etc.). EPSS desires to build a reputation as a knowledgeable and customer-focused organization.

  3. If a customer asks to speak to a manager, follow the instructions below.

    1. Advise the customer you will refer him or her to your manager and put the customer on hold.

    2. Contact your manager or appointed designee and verify they are available. Advise the manager of the nature of the call. Transfer the call to the manager or designee in accordance with your organization’s procedures. Transfer the customer using the soft telephone or escalate the Interaction.

    3. If the manager is not available, advise the customer accordingly and obtain all of the pertinent information. Assure the customer that the manager will return the call. When taking a telephone message, secure the customer’s name, specific issue, telephone number, and the best time and day for the manager to return the call (same day of the call or next business day). Information can be sent to the manager using secure email. Do not leave customer names and telephone numbers on an unattended desk. This would be considered a security violation.

  4. All complaints regardless of the source or issue need to be elevated to your lead’s Provider Group. Your lead will work with the manager to address the complaint. Ensure the customer’s name, address, telephone number, and specifics of the complaint are documented in the interaction/incident. Submit the information to your manager for appropriate action.

    Note:

    Complaints or suggestions about a system or application cannot be addressed by your manager and must be documented using Problem Type Customer Comment and be escalated to the appropriate Provider Group. See IRM 3.42.7.6.4, Problem Types.

Escalation Path for Assistance

  1. The TSO assistor is the first point of contact for customer issues. These assistors are in direct contact with the customer and interact with support groups as necessary. Each TSO assistor handles all issues within the scope of their training and authority. They are responsible for documenting Interactions in a detailed and complete manner in EHSS. Typical issues deal with electronic filing, file format, and procedural questions.

  2. For complex issues create an Interaction and elevate to the CSS Lead Provider Group. The CSS Lead Provider Group will follow up with the customer to ensure that the issue has been resolved to the customer's satisfaction.

    Note:

    When assistors are receiving a higher than normal call volume or email volume about a specific issue, assistors must notify their lead or manager in an email providing the relevant facts about the issue(s). For example: If TSO is receiving a large volume of calls because of a change in the format for electronic filing or there is legislation that changes a reporting requirement, the lead or manager must be notified. The lead or manager must alert the TSO Operation Chief about the issue(s) for scheduling and tracking purposes.

Transferring, Elevating, and Referring Calls

  1. If an assistor is handling a call regarding one application, but the customer has a question handled on another application, refer to IRM 3.42.7.14.6, Transferring Calls and Interactions/Incidents. Open an Interaction and refer to IRM 3.42.7.14.6.2.1, Interaction/Incident Transfer Basics. If your only action is transferring the call an Interaction is not necessary.

  2. If a customer reaches TSO incorrectly, open an Interaction and provide the referral listed in KM000243, EPSS and Unsupported Products Information.

  3. When it is appropriate to transfer a call to another application within the operation, use the inside line button on the UCAD display and the appropriate inside line number. Refer to IRM 3.42.7.14.6.1.1, Call Transfer Basics. Examples include:

    • #92460 for Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) Registration and FATCA ICMM

    • #92481 for the Customer Service Section (CSS)

    • #92482 for CP 2100, CP 2100A, Notice 972CG and password/PIN/secret phrase resets

    • #92483 for the Filing Information Returns Electronically Support (FS)

    • #92486 for Information Filing Support (IFS)

      Note:

      Probe to assure transfers to other section is necessary.

  4. Assistor should create an Interaction and escalate to appropriate CSS Lead Provider Group.

  5. If a customer asks to speak to a manager in another application, advise the customer that you cannot transfer to a direct extension. Offer to give the manager a written message. See IRM 21.3.11.7.3, Customer Complaints and Comments.

  6. When a customer asks to speak to another front-line assistor, ask if the call is expected, or if you may provide assistance. If the taxpayer indicates that the call is expected, advise that you will take a message and deliver it to the assistor.

    Note:

    If the customer is referring to an Interaction, remember to notate the Interaction number in the email.

Assistor Procedures

  1. TSO assistors use standardized procedures to efficiently provide consistent responses to it's customers. This section establishes uniform procedures for telephone and written responses.

Responding to the Customer

  1. Customer Service Section (CSS) receives inquiries via telephone and email.

  2. When receiving inquiries through the telephone take the following actions:

    • Greet the customer

    • Provide professional and courteous service

    • Probe the customer

    • Target the customer's issue

    • Authenticate as appropriate

    • Research the applicable resources

    • Provide the applicable guidance (Form Instructions, Publications, etc.)

    • Refer if appropriate

    • Verify customer's comprehension

    • Close the conversation

  3. You may receive inquiries through the EHSS email system. When responding to the inquiry perform the following actions:

    • Determine the customer's issue

    • Create your response

    • Prepare answers that are complete and professional

    • Use prepared answers from Knowledge Articles (Solutions), if available

    • Refer questions to other functions. See IRM 21.3.11.8.2

    • Provide appropriate sources to address the issue(s) (Publications, specific form instructions)

    • Review your response

    • Ensure the response is professional and courteous

    • Ensure the response does not quote tax law and does not include opinion or interpretation of tax law

    Note:

    See IRM 21.3.11.7Communications, and IRM 21.3.11.7.2Telephone Etiquette, for further guidance.

  4. When providing a technical answer, cite the appropriate reference that supports the answer provided (e.g., publications, form instructions, IRMs, etc.). Citing an appropriate reference while speaking to the customer ensures that the information/answer provided is accurate. Additionally, by confirming the reference, we are educating the customer. In some instances a reference may not be required. For example, a reference is not necessary when you cannot answer the customer's question(s) and must refer or transfer a call without providing a response.

Referring Customers to Other Areas and Resources

  1. Questions relating to the following forms should be referred as follows:

    Referral Telephone Numbers
    Form Title Telephone Number
    940/940EZ Employer's Annual Federal Unemployment Tax Return(s) 800-829-4933
    941 Employer's Quarterly Federal Tax Return 800-829-4933
    943 Employer's Annual Tax Return for Agricultural Employees 800-829-4933
    944 Employer's Annual Federal Tax Return 800-829-4933
    945 Annual Return of Withheld Federal Income Tax 800-829-4933
    1040 U.S. Individual Income Tax Return 800-829-1040
    1042 Annual Withholding Tax Return for U.S. Source Income of Foreign Persons 267-941-1000
    1042-S (Tax law and paper reporting) Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding 267-941-1000
    8027 Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips 800-829-4933 (If specialized research is needed.)
    8955-SSA (Tax law and paper reporting) Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits 877-829-5500
    SS-4 Application for Employer Identification Number 800-829-4933
    SS-5 Application for Social Security Card 800-772-1213
    SS-8 Determination of Worker Status for Purposes of Federal Employment Taxes and Income Tax Withholding 800-829-1040
    W-8 series W-8BEN, W-8ECI, W-8EXP, W-8IMY (Certificates of Foreign Status) 267-941-1000
  2. To address calls related to other unsupported products not listed above see Knowledge Management Article (Solution) KM000243, EPSS and Unsupported Product Contact Information.

Authentication and Authorization Guidelines

  1. Ensure that the customer is entitled to receive requested information. You must authenticate the customer before providing secured account information.

    Note:

    Customers requesting general information (i.e., not account specific, or protected information) do not require authentication. For example: "How do I apply for a transmitter control code (TCC)?" or "Do I need to submit a test file?" If, during the call, a general question turns into an inquiry that needs to be answered by accessing a secure system, authentication procedures must be followed.

  2. Authentication means to establish the identity of the customer. Customers must verify required probes before Technical Services Operation (TSO) can release account information. Authorization means that the customer has the right to the information. The Disclosure and Privacy Knowledge Base Site has excellent topics on who can access tax data at https://portal.ds.irsnet.gov/sites/vl003/pages/default.aspx.

  3. Research the appropriate system (e.g., Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS), Information Return Program (IRP) Homepage to validate the customer's authentication responses prior to providing secured account information.

  4. Employees are required to use the online version of Electronic Products and Services Support (EPSS) Authentication/Authorization Job Aid for each telephone call with the exception for a general inquiry that does not require the employee to provide account specific information. Refer to IRM 3.42.9.3, TSO Authentication and Authorization Guidelines, and the EPSS Authentication and Authorization Job Aid that is located on the EPSS SERP Research Portal.

  5. Assistors may make outgoing calls in situations such as a call back to a customer to resolve an issue. Follow authentication and authorization guidelines to verify that the person to whom you are speaking is authorized to receive the information. When making an outgoing call and the taxpayer is reluctant to give you his/her Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN), provide the taxpayer with the last four digits of his/her TIN (Social Security Number/Employer Identification Number). Then, request that the taxpayer verify the first five digits and continue with the appropriate probes. Refer to IRM 3.42.9.6, Contacting the Customer - Outgoing Calls.

Third-Party Authorization

  1. A third-party authorization is a signed document and/or an oral statement made by a taxpayer granting specific authorities to a third party. Third-party authorizations include: Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, Form 706, United States Estate (and Generation-Skipping Transfer) Tax Return, Oral Disclosure Consent (ODC), a non-written tax information authorization, or third-party designee (also known as Check-box authority).

Third-Party Authentication - Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, and Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization
  1. When responding to a third-party (anyone other than the taxpayer), who indicates he/she has a third-party authorization on file, complete the appropriate search provided in IRM 3.42.9.3.7.1, Third-Party Authentication - Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative and Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization.

Oral Disclosure Consent
  1. Accept Oral Disclosure Consent (ODC) from a taxpayer to authorize the disclosure of account information to a third-party to resolve account issues. Perform the following actions:

    • Determine account information to be disclosed.

    • Confirm the date, nature and extent of the request to assist.

    • Perform Authentication with the person who is in an Authorized Role per Entity Type and confirm the identity of the designee.

  2. ODC cannot be used for the following situations:

    • To request IRS to systemically issue and mail account transcripts and/or copies of notices, letters or returns to a third party. However, the authorized third-party may request copies of information be sent to the address of record.

    • Request for non-tax matter information (e.g., requests for income verification for student loans, mortgage loans, etc.).

  3. ODC expires after the account issue is closed.

Disclosure Cross-References

  1. The previous sections are targeted at products and services supported by CSS. However, you should refer to the following IRM sections for complete guidance on Authentication and Authorization.

    • IRM 11.3.2, Disclosure to Persons with a Material Interest

    • IRM 11.3.2.4,Persons Who May Have Access to Returns and Return Information Pursuant to IRC Section 6103(e)

    • IRM 21.1.3.2, General Disclosure Guidelines

    • IRM 21.1.3.2.1, Disclosure Definitions

    • IRM 21.1.3.2.2, Authorized and Unauthorized Disclosures

    • IRM 21.1.3.3, Third-Party (POA/TIA/F706) Authentication

    • IRM 21.1.3.3.1, Third-Party Designee Authentication

    • IRM 21.1.3.4, Other Third-Party Inquiries

    • IRM 21.1.3.7, Requests from Employees of Business Entities

    • IRM 21.1.3.8, Inquiries from IRS Employees

    • IRM 21.1.3.9, Mailing and Faxing Tax Account Information

    • IRM 21.2.1.56, Deaf/Hard of Hearing (DHOH) Callers and TTY/TDD Equipment

E-Help Support System (EHSS)

  1. The E-Help Support System is used to provide support to IRS' external customers. Contact data in EHSS is retrieved from External Customer Data Store (ECDS) and contact data for Information Returns is retrieved from the Transmitter Control Base (TCB). As customers contact TSO, the assistor can access the contact’s history which is recorded in the Interaction. For detailed information about using EHSS, see IRM 3.42.7, EPSS Help Desk Support, and IRM 3.42.7.5, Introduction to the E-Help Support System (EHSS).

Interaction Creation

  1. Although Interactions vary in complexity, the same basic process is used to create all Interactions. From the EHSS Home page, use the "Open New Interactions" menu selection located under the "Service Desk" . Most Customer Service Section (CSS) Interactions created from incoming telephone calls will have "TSO" in the contact field because CSS customers do not have contact information in External Customer Data Store (ECDS) or Transmitter Control Base.

    Exception:

    If you are performing Information Filing Section (IFS) or FIRE Support work you should create the Interaction using the TCC code. See IRM 3.42.7.6.1,Contacts.

  2. Record Interaction details by following procedures in IRM 3.42.7.6, Interaction Details.

Escalation/Incidents

  1. If an assistor creates an Interaction and needs further guidance or is directed to a different provider group, the assistor will escalate the Interactions. See IRM 3.42.7.9,Escalate an Interaction.

  2. If you receive an inquiry about a common problem, the Interactions can be related to the open Incident (if one exists). See IRM 3.42.7.9.1,Relate Interactions.

Email System

  1. Email is a module within EHSS that allows TSO to expand its channels of communications. Email allows for response management, which directs and tracks emails from arrival through response, and includes intelligent routing and service-level management and reporting. See IRM 3.42.7.12.2, Email Function, for complete information about handling email Interactions in EHSS.

Responding to Email Inquiries
  1. Follow guidelines in IRM 21.3.11.8.1, Responding to the Customer, when creating your response along with EHSS procedures in IRM 3.42.7.12.2.2, Responding to Email.

  2. Emails are treated the same as telephone calls. If you can't answer the inquiry or need guidance, refer it to the appropriate provider group.

  3. Use templates or Knowledge Articles when appropriate, modifying if necessary to address the taxpayer's specific question.

  4. Do not copy tax law or lengthy information from a source into your response.

  5. Cite the publication, form, or other reference source for your answer. Always provide the complete name of the publication, instructions, or form when first citing it in the email. Additionally, refer the customer to the instructions for form(s) when appropriate.

  6. Do not close an email with a telephone response.

  7. Do not use personal pronouns, such as "I" and "me." Refer to the organization as the Internal Revenue Service.

  8. Do not address account information in an email.

Electronic Filing Requirement

  1. Treasury Regulation 301.6011-2 requires payers who file 250 or more information returns to file those returns electronically. Payers who are under the filing threshold requirement are encouraged to file electronically.

  2. Employers filing 250 or more Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, must file those returns electronically. Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, is filed with the Social Security Administration. Advise the customer to call the SSA's Employer Reporting Branch at 1-800-772-6270 for format and specifications.

    • The SSA also has an online wage reporting program that allows filers of Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, to file electronically by entering wage data directly from their personal computers. Advise employers to contact the SSA directly at Business Services Online, 888-772-2970 or refer the customer to the SSA website at https://www.ssa.gov/ and select Menu and then "Business Services" "Business & Government" to register.

  3. Form 1042-S, Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding, Form 1097-BTC, Bond Tax Credit, Form 1098 series, Form 1099 series, Form 3921, Exercise of an Incentive Stock Option Under Section 422(b), Form 3922, Exercise of an Incentive Stock Option Under Section 422(b), Form 5498 series, and Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings, are also required to be filed electronically if a customer is filing 250 or more of any one type of these forms.

  4. This filing requirement (250 or more) applies separately to originals and corrections.

  5. If the following forms are required to be electronically filed see Publication 1220, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G.

    • Form 1097-BTC, Bond Tax Credit

    • Form 1098 series

    • Form 1099 series

    • Form 3921, Exercise of an Incentive Stock Option Under Section 422(b)

    • Form 3922, Transfer of Stock Acquired Through an Employee Stock Plan Under Section 423(c)

    • Form 5498 series

    • Form W-2G, Certain Gambling Winnings

    For Form 1042-S, Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding, see Publication 1187, Specifications for Electronically Filing of Form 1042-S, Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding.

    For Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips, see Publication 1239, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 8027, Employer's Annual Information Return of Tip Income and Allocated Tips.

    For Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits, see Publication 4810, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Form 8955-SSA, Annual Registration Statement Identifying Separated Participants with Deferred Vested Benefits.

    Each publication provides format and specifications for each form’s electronic file.

    Note:

    Remind customers that they must have software that can produce a file in the proper format. The FIRE System does not provide a fill-in form option for information return reporting, nor does it support the PDF format.

  6. Affordable Care Act forms are electronically filed via the Affordable Care Act (ACA) Information Return (AIR) System. See IRM 3.42.9.23, Affordable Care Act (ACA) Electronic Filing for more information.

The FIRE System

  1. The FIRE System is how transmitters send information returns electronically to the IRS. It is an internet-based system. The address is https://fire.irs.gov or https://fire.test.irs.gov to connect to the FIRE Test System.

  2. The advantages of filing electronically are:

    1. Paperless

    2. Results are available in 1 to 2 business days

    3. There is a later due date (generally, 3/31 as opposed to 2/28)

      Note:

      Form W-2 and Form 1099-MISC with non-employee compensation (NEC) in box 7 have one due date, January 31st.

    4. Better customer service due to the online availability of transmitter files

    5. Available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, except for every Wednesday from 2:00 a.m. ET to 5:00 a.m. ET for programming updates and the last two weeks of the year when the FIRE System is down for yearly updates

  3. If customers question whether they are required to file electronically, probe to determine the type of forms they are filing. Then provide them with an appropriate source to the information, such as a link to the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns, Publication 1220, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498 and W-2G or Publication 1187, Specifications for Electronic Filing Form 1042-S Foreign Person’s U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding.

  4. If they have 250 or more, they are required to file them electronically unless they are granted a waiver with Form 8508, Request for Waiver from Filing Information Returns Electronically, from the electronic filing requirement.

    Exception:

    Beginning January 1, 2014, financial institutions that are required to report payments made under Chapter 3 (and Chapter 4 for payments made after June 30, 2014) must electronically file Form 1042-S regardless of the number of forms to be filed. See IRC Section 6011(e)(4) and Regulations section 301.1474-1.

  5. If they have less than 250 and it is prior to February 28, they can do one of the following:

    • File the forms on paper

    • Buy software to produce the file themselves

    • File the returns through a third-party or transmitter

  6. If the customer decides to buy software, explain procedures to apply for a Transmitter Control Code (TCC) by using either the fill-in Form 4419 or by mailing Form 4419,Application for Filing Information Returns Electronically. Advise the customer that a transmitter must have an EIN to receive a TCC. Social Security Numbers (SSN) are no longer accepted when filing Form 4419, Application for Filing Information Returns Electronically.

  7. If they have 250 or more forms or it is after February 28,

    • Inform the customer they could be subject to a penalty if they file on paper.

    • Inform the customer they can search the web for software and third-party providers.

Form 4419, Application to File Information Returns Electronically

  1. Form 4419, Application to File Information Returns Electronically, may be submitted using the Fill-In Form 4419 located on the FIRE System or by submitting a paper Form 4419 (Rev. June 2018). If the application is approved, a Transmitter Control Code (TCC) is assigned to the business.

  2. The TCC is a 5-digit alpha/numeric code that is required when formatting a file and transmitting it through the FIRE System. The TCC is coded in the Transmitter "T" Record and used to identify payers/transmitters and track files as they process through FIRE.

  3. Refer to Publication 1220 and Form 4419 instructions for guidelines on requesting and maintaining a TCC.

  4. It is important that TCC information is current. Advise transmitters to submit a paper Form 4419 marked ‘Revised’ to update TCC information.

  5. The TCC will remain active if files are transmitted through the FIRE System. If a TCC is not used for two consecutive years, the FIRE System automatically deletes the TCC.

  6. Refer to IRM 3.42.9.9.6.1, TCC Not Received, to resolve the following TCC inquiries received on the toll-free line:

    • TCC Not Received

    • TCC and TIN Mismatch

    • Forgotten TCC

Notices Addressed in TSO

  1. TSO provides assistance for help with the following notices:

    • CP 2000 - Issued to taxpayer to request verification for unreported income, payments or credits (underreporting).

    • CP 2100 - Notice to Payer Pertaining to Missing and/or Incorrect Payee Names/TINs on Information Returns.

    • CP 2100A - Notice to Payer Pertaining to Missing and/or Incorrect Payee Names/TINs on Information Returns.

    • Notice 972CG - Issued to taxpayer regarding proposed penalties for their information return filing.

    • CP 215, Civil Penalty - Issued to taxpayer because a civil penalty has been assessed.

Notice CP 2000/ Underreporter Inquiries

  1. This section provides information about the handling of calls received pertaining to Notice CP 2000.

  2. Generally, the calls that TSO receives about the CP 2000 notices are from an employer or payer that filed duplicate Forms 1099 or Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement. The notice could also be issued because an employer or payer overstated the gross income of an employee or payee on an information return.

  3. CP Notices 541 - 546 and CP 2000 are commonly referred to as "C" notices or underreporting notices because they relate to IRC Section 3406(a)(1)(C). TSO employees are not trained to answer questions about CP Notices 541 - 546.

  4. When calls about CP 2000 notices are received by an assistor, the assistor must verify the type of notice and the number of payees/employees involved. If there is only one payee/employee involved, advise the customer to file a corrected return. Copy A must be filed with the SSA and a copy must be provided to the recipient along with a letter of explanation as to how the error was made. The payee/employee will then have to answer the notice and provide a copy of the corrected form and letter of explanation to the IRS. If the notice involves more than one payee/employee, CSS will create an Interaction and escalate the case to Information Filing Support (IFS) Lead Provider Group. The computer assistants in IFS are trained to research the files to determine the error(s) and take corrective actions.

  5. The computer assistants must refer to IRM 3.42.9.16, Underreporter Inquiries, for procedures.

Notice CP 2100 and Notice CP 2100A

  1. This section provides guidelines for identifying and resolving inquiries concerning Computer Paragraph (CP) Notice CP 2100 and Notice CP 2100A.

  2. Notice CP 2100 and Notice CP 2100A calls constitute the largest volume of inquiries TSO receives during a typical year. The notices are commonly referred to as "B" notices because they relate to IRC Section 3406(a)(1)(A) and (B). This code section requires payers to withhold 24 percent of certain payments they make to recipients of Form 1099. This is called backup withholding. The withholding rate has been reduced to 24% effective for all subject payments after December 31, 2017. See Publication 1281, Backup Withholding on Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs (Including Instructions for Reading Tape Cartridges and CD/DVD Formats).

  3. Filers of a Form 1099 (subject to backup withholding) can receive notification from the IRS that they have filed forms with incorrect payee names and taxpayer identification numbers (TINs) or have filed forms with missing payee TINs.

  4. There are two seasons for mailing of these notices; September - October and April. The largest mailing is in the September - October time frame.

  5. The notice contains a one-page letter and a listing of the payee names identified by the IRS as having a "Possible Payee Name/TIN Discrepancy." The TSO assistor's responsibility is to assist the customer in determining the correct action to take in response to the notice.

  6. If 50 or fewer error documents are reported on the listing, a Notice CP 2100A is issued. If more than 50 error documents are reported, a Notice CP 2100 is issued. If there are 250 or more errors, the payers are issued a CD/DVD.

  7. Publication 1281, Backup Withholding for Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs, (including instructions for reading CD/DVD formats) is your source of information for responses to questions about Notices CP 2100/ CP 2100A.

Payments Subject to Backup Withholding
  1. Not all reportable payments are subject to backup withholding. Advise the customer to review form instructions for each payment type that they plan to report to determine if they will be subject to backup withholding; also 1281, Backup Withholding For Missing And Incorrect Name/TIN(s), Frequently Asked Question #4 provides a quick reference. In general the form instructions will provide information regarding the following types of payments (list is not all inclusive):

    • Rent

    • Commissions

    • Royalties

    • Fees and other forms of compensation

    • Gains

    • Profits

    • Interest and Dividends

    • Original issued discounts

    • Gross proceeds

    • Gambling winnings

    • Taxable grants

    • USDA agricultural subsidy

    • Payment card transactions

Missing TINs
  1. The IRS considers a TIN to be missing if it isn't provided or if it is obviously incorrect. For example: A TIN that contains more or less than 9-digits, alpha characters, or all the same digits (22-2222222) is considered a missing TIN.

  2. When a call is received saying that the TIN Status on the listing received from the IRS is "Missing TINs," advise the customer to review the flowcharts in Part 6 of Publication 1281, Backup Withholding For Missing And Incorrect Name/TIN(s). The flowcharts are a great visual tool that clearly outlines the necessary steps to correct the issue. The customer should not submit corrected files to the IRS, they only need to ensure that their records are updated for the next filing.

  3. If the customer insists on additional assistance refer to the flowcharts in Publication 1281, Backup Withholding For Missing And Incorrect Name/TIN(s) and guide the customer through the process.

Incorrect Name/TINs or Not Currently Issued TINs
  1. An Incorrect Name/TIN means the name on the information return for the indicated TIN does not match IRS or Social Security Administration (SSA) records.

  2. A Not Currently Issued TIN means that the TIN on the information return does not show as being assigned on IRS and/or SSA records.

  3. Both of these situations are resolved with the same actions. Advise the customer to refer to the flowcharts in Part 6 of Publication 1281, Backup Withholding For Missing and Incorrect Name/TIN(s).

  4. If the customer insists on additional assistance refer to the flowcharts in Publication 1281, Backup Withholding For Missing And Incorrect Name/TIN(s) and guide the customer through the process.

  5. One of the most common errors for an incorrect name/TIN mismatch is in the case of a sole proprietor. Refer customers to Publication 1281, which states, "A sole proprietor may have an SSN or an EIN. However, he or she must always furnish his or her individual name, regardless of whether he or she uses a SSN or an EIN." Remind customers that if they have the individual's name in their records, but failed to report it on Name Line 1 of the Form 1099 they filed, they don't have to do a solicitation. They must use the individual's name in the future. If they do not have the individual's name in their files, they must follow the table above and make the solicitation.

Spring Pass Notice Corrections
  1. For a notice received during the Spring Pass, a correction may be necessary for the immediate past filing season. A correction is not required for the tax year of the notice of any year prior to the tax year on the notice. For example, a notice received in April 2018, shows an incorrect digit in a payee TIN. The error is determined to be due to a clerical error on the part of the payer on an information return for tax year (TY) 2016.
    In this scenario:

    • No correction is necessary for TY 2016.

    • Probe customer to determine if an information return was filed for this payee for TY 2017.

    • If return was filed for TY 2017, probe to determine if the clerical error was carried over to the TY 2017 filing.

    • If the TY 2017 return was incorrect, advise the customer that a correction is necessary for TY 2017.

  2. Advise the customer to refer to the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns, Part H (Paper Corrections) or Publication 1220, Specifications for Electronic Filing of Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G.

Erroneous Backup Withholding
  1. If a payer or broker withholds under IRC Section 3406 from a payee in error or withholds more than the proper amount of tax, advise the customer the excess may be refunded and refer them to Publication 1281, Backup Withholding For Missing and Incorrect Name/TIN(s) Frequently Asked Question #34.

Verifying the Receipt of a Notice
  1. Taxpayers that have received notices in the past may call to see if they are supposed to receive a notice in the current year. Follow the table below to answer this type of call.

    Note:

    Notices will not be verified until two weeks after the last dated notice for the tax year in question.

  2. Complete authentication/authorization process in accordance with IRM 3.42.9.3.6Authentication/Authorization for Account Information.

  3. After this information is confirmed through the database, you can tell the customer if a notice was sent.

    Verifying the Receipt of a Notice
    If And Then
    filers are questioning whether they should have received a Notice CP 2100, Notice 972CG, the notices are being mailed inform the customer the notices are currently being mailed and that they can call back after the notice lookup date.
    filers are questioning whether they should have received a Notice CP 2100, Notice 972CG, it has been at least two weeks since the final mailing date of the notice for the tax year in question verify if a notice was mailed after completing Authentication/Authorization requirements. Escalate the case to Information Filing Support (IFS) Leads for recreate, if applicable. Advise the customer that they should receive the notice within 4 weeks.
    filers are questioning whether they should have received a Notice CP 2100, Notice 972CG, it has been two weeks after the last dated notice and the customer is going to fax a Form 2848/ Form 8821 escalate the case to IFS. IFS will contact the customer once Form 2848/ Form 8821 is received. Explain to the customer what you have done.

    Note:

    Form 2848 or Form 8821 must be faxed in for each TIN on the TIN listing (CP 2100 and Notice 972CG).

    a notice is due, the customer states that they have not received it and the customer would like the recreated notice sent to a different address and it is two weeks after the final notice date escalate the case to IFS. IFS will recreate the notice. Explain to the customer what you have done and provide the Incident number. Explain that they must complete Form 8822-B, Change of Address, Business, include the Incident number on the top of the form and fax it to TSO. Follow procedures in IRM 3.42.9.14.4, Request to Recreate Notice CP 2100 and Notice CP 2100A.
  4. When searching the TIN on the database, make sure the EIN being searched matches the EIN shown as the Access Key. The EIN shown as the Access Key is the EIN used to generate the notices. If the EIN searched is different from the Access Key EIN, there will not be a notice mailed to the company that owns the EIN searched.

  5. If a customer has questions about the status of a previous recreate request, research the Interaction. If customer does not have an Interaction number, you must open a new Interaction.

  6. If a customer has questions about the status of a previous recreate request, research the Interaction if closed and the customer needs further assistance, open a new Interaction and escalate to the Information Filing Support (IFS) Lead Provider Group.

  7. Notices CP 2100, Notice CP 2100A, and Notice 972CG require separate Interactions. Follow procedures in IRM 3.42.9.14.4, Request to Recreate Notice CP 2100 and Notice CP 2100A, and IRM 3.42.9.15.3, Recreate Notice 972CG.

  8. Multiple requests for the same notice for different years should be in one Interaction.

  9. Requests with multiple EINs for the same notice by the same customer should be in one Interaction.

Encryption Codes
  1. This section contains the procedures for providing encryption codes to filers upon receipt of a Notice CP 2100 CD/DVD or Notice 972CG CD/DVD listing for missing and incorrect names/TINs.

  2. Inquiries received in FS pertaining to an encryption code for Notice 972CG or Notice CP 2100 must be transferred to the IFS (#92486).

Notice of Penalty

  1. A determination of the penalties to be assessed by the IRS is made when the processing of information returns is completed, generally a year to 18 months after the due date of the information returns. The IRS will notify filers of returns which are subject to penalty by issuing Notice 972CG, Notice of Proposed Civil Penalty.

  2. Notice 972CG, with a listing of missing or incorrect name/TIN combinations used on information returns, will be sent to filers of information documents noncompliant with IRC Section 6721. The notice may include proposed penalties for late filing and/or failure to file information returns electronically.

  3. CP 215, Civil Penalty, this notice can be received if the customer fails to respond to Notice 972CG or correspondence within time limits, or the explanation was not accepted.

  4. If the customer disagrees with all or part of the penalties proposed, then an explanation establishing reasonable cause for why the penalties should not apply must accompany the response page to the IRS. See Publication 1586,Reasonable Cause Regulations and Requirements for Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs for further information if needed.

  5. If the customer requests additional assistance obtain relevant information to resolve the issue found on the Summary of Proposal Penalty or Explanation of Penalty on the notice.

  6. Advise customer to review Publication 1586, Reasonable Cause Regulations and Requirements for Missing and Incorrect Name/TINs.

Information Return Penalties

  1. IRC Section 6721, IRC Section 6722, and IRC Section 6723 give the IRS the authority to propose and assess penalties when filers of information returns, such as Form 1099 or Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, fail to comply with certain filing requirements established by the IRC and Regulations.

  2. When payers/filers do not meet the filing requirements, they may be assessed penalties for the following:

    • Failure to file by the due date (late filing)

    • Failure to include all information or correct information required (incomplete, missing names/TINs and other information)

    • Failure to file electronically

    Refer customer to General Instructions for Certain Information Returns for more information.

  3. Advise the customer the three tier late filing penalties are listed on the Summary of Proposed Penalty page on the notice and can be found in Publication 1586, Reasonable Cause Regulations and Requirements for Missing and Incorrect Name/TINsGeneral Instructions for Certain Information Returns, Part VIII, Information Penalty Rates, the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns, Part O, and the Penalties and General Instructions for Forms W-2 and W-3.

  4. The research of return filing does not fall within TSO scope. Advise the customer to resolve the issue, they must follow the instructions in the notice. The customer must respond in writing to the address on the notice.

Waivers from Filing Information Returns Electronically

  1. This section outlines the information that must be provided when filers call and need a waiver from the magnetic/electronic filing requirement set forth in IRC Section 6011(e).

  2. Requests for a waiver from electronic filing must be made by submitting Form 8508, Request for Waiver from Filing Information Returns Electronically, before the due date of the returns for which the waiver is being requested.

  3. Form 8508, Request for Waiver from Filing Information Returns Electronically, must be completed in full, signed by the customer, and submitted 45 calendar days before the due date of the return.

  4. A separate Form 8508 must be completed for each entity (EIN) for which a waiver is being requested.

  5. The approval of a waiver applies for one filing year only. A new waiver request must be applied for each year for which a waiver is needed. An initial request for waiver does not require the customer to submit cost estimates. Subsequent requests for a waiver require two current cost estimates from a third-party for software upgrades, or programming to update the payer's system.

  6. If all the information on the form is not completed, two current cost estimates are not provided after the first request, and/or the form is not signed by the payer, the request will automatically be denied.

  7. An approved waiver from filing electronically still requires the payer to file timely on paper forms to the appropriate submission processing site.

  8. If a customer requests a reconsideration of a denied waiver they must respond to the letter of denial within 30 calendar days from the date of the letter or 60 days for overseas filers. Overseas status is based on the filers address.

Other Types of Inquiries Received in Technical Services Operation (TSO)

  1. This section lists additional subjects on which TSO receives questions and must provide filing requirements and recommended actions.

Reclassification of Employees

  1. Calls are received in TSO about the misclassification or proper worker classification of individuals for employment tax purposes. When employers call because they have received notice from the IRS that they treated an employee as a nonemployee, you must follow the instructions in the notice and in Publication 15,(Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide, to help explain the actions required. You may also refer the customer to Publication 4341, Information Guide for Employers Filing Form 941 or Form 944 - Frequently Asked Questions about the Reclassification of Workers as Employees. This publication contains frequently asked questions about the reclassification of workers as employees.

  2. Refer customer to the information outlined in Publication 15 and Publication 4341, for additional information.

  3. Employers may also qualify for relief from payment of employment taxes under Section 530 of the Revenue Act of 1978. Refer customer to Publication 1976,Do You Qualify for Relief Under Section 530?

  4. Announcement 2012-45 provides information about the Voluntary Classification Settlement Program (VCSP). This is a program that provides an opportunity for taxpayers to reclassify workers as employees with partial relief from employment taxes if certain requirements are met.

Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) Inquiries

  1. An Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) is a nine-digit number issued by the IRS to individuals who are required for U.S. tax purposes to have a U.S. Taxpayer Identification Number but who do not have, and are not eligible to obtain, a SSN.

  2. Advise individuals to file Form W-7, Application for IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, to apply for an IRS Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN).

  3. The ITIN is for federal tax purposes only. It does not entitle individuals to social security benefits and does not change their immigration status or their right to work in the United States.

  4. If a customer is questioning where to report a payment made to someone who provides them with an ITIN, certain actions must be taken. The payer is required to use certain presumption rules to determine the following:

    • The status of the payee as a U.S. or foreign person and,

    • The classification of the payee as an individual, trust, estate, corporation, or partnership.

    ITIN Inquiries
    If And Then
    the payer does not have a Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, or a Form W-8 series on file, the person provided an ITIN and the payment is for services rendered, advise the payer they must follow the presumption rules outlined in the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns.
    the payer has a Form W-9, Request for Taxpayer Identification Number and Certification, on file, the recipient provided an ITIN on the form, advise the payer to follow the Presumption rules outlined in the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns.
    the recipient is an agricultural worker with an H-2A Visa, provided a SSN or an ITIN, advise the payer to refer to Publication 51, Circular A, Agricultural Employer's Tax Guide.
    the recipient is an agricultural worker with an H-2A Visa, has not provided a SSN, or an ITIN, advise the payer to reference Publication 5144, Federal Income Tax and FICA Withholding for Foreign Agricultural Workers with an H-2A Visa.
  5. Advise the customer to follow the detailed information in the General Instructions for Certain Information Returns (Forms 1097, 1098, 1099, 3921, 3922, 5498, and W-2G),Publication 51, (Circular A), Agricultural Employer's Tax Guide, Publication 5144, Federal Income Tax and FICA Withholding for Foreign Agricultural Workers with an H-2A Visa, and Publication 1281, Backup Withholding for Missing Incorrect Name/TIN(s), when answering these questions.

Substitute Forms

  1. This section includes information to provide customers when they want information about creating substitute forms that can be sent to the IRS, SSA, and the recipients/employees.

  2. Substitute forms for certain information returns must comply with rules set forth in Publication 1179, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms 1096, 1098, 1099, 5498, and Certain Other Information Returns.

  3. Paper Substitute Form W-2 series and Form W-3 series must conform to the specifications in Publication 1141, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms W-2 and W-3.

  4. Requirements for Paper Substitute Form W-2c, Corrected Wage and Tax Statement, and Form W-3c, Transmittal of Corrected Wage and Tax Statements specific and filers are found in Publication 1223, General Rules and Specifications for Substitute Forms W-2c and W-3c.

  5. Specifications for substitute Form 1042-S, Foreign Person's U.S. Source Income Subject to Withholding, are included in Publication 1179.