22.40.1 Outreach

Manual Transmittal

August 29, 2016

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 22.40.1, Federal, State and Local Governments, Outreach.

Material Changes

(1) Replaced the term Specialists with Presenter.

(2) Defined FSLG Presenter in IRM 22.40.1.1 (5).

(3) Deleted obsolete material in IRM 22.40.1.1.2 related to costs for booth rentals and promotional items.

(4) Changed IRM 22.40.1.2 to identify information to be considered in developing outreach plans.

(5) Added IRM 22.40.1.2.1, 22.40.1.2.2 and 22.40.1.2.3.

(6) Deleted IRM 22.40.1.3.1.

(7) Changed IRM 22.40.1.3 (5) to include instructions in completing forms and securing approval for outreach.

(8) Changed IRM 22.40.1.4 to eliminate obsolete information on providing customer assistance and to provide current information on educating taxpayers about materials available on IRS.gov.

(9) Created IRM 22.40.1.5.1 to discuss and identify a new location for the repository of outreach presentations.

(10) Changed IRM 22.40.1.5 for securing approvals for new outreach presentations.

(11) Deleted IRM 22.40.1.6 (2) and (3).

(12) Deleted IRM 22.40.1.6.1, IRM 22.40.1.6.2 and IRM 22.40.1.6.3.

(13) IRM 22.40.1.7(1)(D) became (C) since original (C) deleted and eliminated reference to relevant documents and Resource Research.

(14) Deleted IRM 22.40.1.7 (2)(E) referencing the use of Activity Event Feedback Survey forms since we no longer use these forms.

(15) Deleted IRM 22.40.1.7(3).

(16) Included references to Taxpayer Advocate Service.

(17) Made changes throughout to indicate that the Employment Tax Knowledge Network (the ET K-Net) is now responsible for Outreach review and approval.

(18) Made other editorial changes as needed.

(19) Updated to meet the requirements of P.L. 111-274 (H.R. 946), the Plain Writing Act of 2010. The Act provides that writing must be clear, concise, well-organized, and follow other best practices appropriate to the subject or field and intended audience.

Effect on Other Documents

This supersedes IRM 22.40.1 dated April 21, 2014.

Audience

Tax Exempt Government Entities
Government Entities/Shared Services
Federal, State and Local Governments

Effective Date

(08-29-2016)

Paul Marmolejo
Director, Federal, State and Local Governments
Government Entities/Shared Services
Tax Exempt Government Entities

Overview

  1. FSLG will follow the Tax Exempt Government Entity (TE/GE) Outreach Strategy which was created to ensure that TE/GE’s outreach efforts treat all stakeholders fairly and consistently. See TE/GE Connect.

  2. This section defines Federal, State and Local Governments (FSLG) outreach activities and their role in accomplishing the FSLG mission.

  3. Outreach includes customer educational activities that involve the customers’ voluntary participation. Educational activities help customers comply with the tax laws. They include:

    • Educating customers directly.

    • Partnering with stakeholders.

  4. Outreach also includes Customer Assistance, discussed in IRM 4.90.2, Customer Assistance.

  5. FSLG presenters (Presenters) may include the following:

    • FSLG Director

    • FSLG Staff Assistant

    • Managers (Field, CPM or K-Net)

    • Tax Law Specialists

    • FSLG Specialists

    • Analysts

Stakeholder Outreach

  1. Stakeholder Outreach includes activities with external partners to identify ways to increase FSLG customers’ compliance. Examples of stakeholder outreach include meetings with:

    • State Social Security Administrator (SSSA)

    • Social Security Administration (SSA)

    • Practitioner groups

    • Other government agencies

  2. One goal of outreach is to establish new partnership relationships and expand existing partnerships. This type of outreach can be used as a tool to fix systemic or regional noncompliance.

Customer Outreach

  1. Customer outreach includes face-to-face and virtual events that provide educational information to groups of customers. Examples may include (but are not limited to):

    • Workshops or seminars

    • Customer association conferences and meetings

    • Webinars

    • Podcasts

  2. Customer outreach is preferred as a compliance tool when there is an opportunity to educate and interact with large numbers of customers at once. This is a very useful and effective preventive and remedial tool for systemic and regional noncompliance.

  3. Outreach can be costly due to time expended and travel costs. When possible, consider using, webinars, podcasts and other ways to electronically communicate. For outreach to be cost effective, consider these factors:

    • Market segment impact

    • Expected number of attendees

    • Size and scope of the organization

    • Travel Expense

    • Impact on potential compliance issues

    • Opportunity to establish or expand partnerships

  4. Consider making outreach a virtual event. The options for virtual events, including platforms available, should be discussed with Communications and Liaison (C&L) when planning events.

  5. When participating in conferences, seminars, workshops and other events, the primary approach for outreach is to cooperatively work with:

    • Customers

    • Government Associations

    • Government Practitioners

    • IRS Stakeholders

  6. Managers should establish a pre-filing and filing outreach action plan for each state in their areas.

Outreach Selection Process

  1. The FSLG Director must approve all proposed outreach events, including participation in events sponsored by national associations and organizations.

  2. Before deciding whether to use outreach or customer assistance as a tool to improve compliance, first identify the:

    • Type of compliance issue.

    • Affected customer base.

    • Time and cost of delivery.

  3. FSLG’s decision to participate in an outreach activity is based on the current TE/GE Outreach Strategy and FSLG workplan.

Systemic Noncompliance

  1. Systemic noncompliance:

    • Indicates that the compliance problem exists broadly within the customer population and may require different remedies.

    • Requires a planned outreach and educational focus on the affected customer base.

  2. Identify noncompliance through analysis of historical data.

  3. Develop a focused outreach plan to correct the systemic noncompliance.

Regional Noncompliance

  1. Regional noncompliance indicates that the compliance problem:

    • Exists within a subset of a customer population.

    • May cover more than one state or field group.

  2. FSLG field groups can:

    • Help identify regional noncompliance.

    • Plan outreach activity to increase voluntary compliance in that area.

Local Noncompliance

  1. Local noncompliance indicates the compliance problem exists with/within:

    • A small area.

    • Just one customer.

  2. In general, individual field groups are best positioned to recommend the appropriate outreach activity and follow-up action.

  3. Local noncompliance may also involve alternative remedies, which include one-on-one customer assistance activity focused on issues presented by that customer.

Outreach Planning

  1. Managers must evaluate outreach needs within an assigned geographical area.

  2. Within a state, outreach and customer assistance may be conducted at the same time. A manager-developed action plan should include all of these activities and allocate resources based on the states’ needs.

  3. Coordinate with appropriate internal and/or external partners depending on the natures of the outreach.

  4. Because FSLG shares customers and issues with other Business Operating Divisions (divisions), coordination with these divisions may be necessary to effectively serve customer needs:

    • Government Liaison and Disclosure (GLD)

    • Wage and Investment (W&I)

    • Small Business and Self-Employed (SB/SE)

    • Exempt Organizations (EO)

    • Employee Plans (EP)

    • Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS)

  5. Presenters complete Form 14380 , TE/GE Outreach Request Form, (for both accepted and declined events) and then:

    1. Send to their Manager.

    2. Manager will forward to FSLG Staff Assistant for FSLG Director’s approval.

    3. FSLG Staff Assistant will send to C&L.

  6. C&L will complete all other forms and secure the necessary approvals.

  7. C&L will send Form 14380-A, Reporting Instructions and Feedback for TE/GE Outreach Event, with reporting instructions for SETR, WebETS and Concur, to the Presenter.

  8. C&L will input the outreach information from Form 14380 into the TE/GE Events calendar.

Outreach Standards

  1. Outreach standards and Presenters’ responsibilities:

    • Respond to a request for outreach within five business days (generally).

    • Make necessary arrangements for the presentation.

    • Be courteous and professional.

    • Deliver the presentation in a clear and understandable manner.

    • Assemble and distribute the materials to participants.

    • Inform participants of educational materials on IRS.gov and at taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov.

    • Work cooperatively with the representatives of other federal, state or local government agencies or other organizations to develop presentations that most effectively meet the participants’ needs.

    • Review participant feedback.

    • Incorporate feedback into planning improvements for future outreach events.

Outreach Material

  1. It is important for FSLG to maintain quality outreach materials:

    • Presenters won’t have to create original products each time they have an outreach.

    • The information presented is the same across the country.

  2. Presenters who are planning outreach events should consult the FSLG outreach repository to determine whether an appropriate product is available.

  3. A repository of approved outreach materials for use by Presenters is available in the Outreach Presentations folder in the ET K-Net library.

  4. Products in the ET K-Net library should not be modified without approval of the ET K-Net.

  5. Outreach products for distribution or available to the public:

    • Written guides

    • Fact sheets

    • Charts

    • Publications

    • Slides

    • Graphic illustrations

  6. Presenters may use any items in the IRS products catalog or educational materials posted on IRS.gov without consulting the ET K-Net. However, if there is any question as to whether the materials are current or appropriate, Presenters should contact the ET K-Net.

New Outreach Material

  1. Consult the ET K-Net if a new product needs to be created that requires substantial time to develop.

  2. It may be appropriate to create a new outreach product to serve a specific outreach need. Before beginning work on a product that requires substantial time, Presenters must secure the approval of their Manager.

  3. Submit all new outreach products to the ET K-Net for approval.

  4. The ET K-Net will secure the necessary approvals.

  5. Some outreach products, including text and graphics to be distributed or displayed in face-to-face or electronic presentations, must conform to established TE/GE standards regarding fonts, colors, logos, standard templates and other features. These standards ensure a consistent style for all TE/GE presentations. Presenters preparing an original presentation are responsible for consulting and adhering to these standards, which can be viewed on the Electronic Publishing Design Office.

  6. In some instances, the ET K-Net may request Presenters to develop, modify or review an outreach product based on their particular expertise in the area.

FSLG Outreach Data Capture

  1. When the outreach event is completed, the Presenter will complete Form 14380-A and include:

    • Actual audience size

    • Actual cost

    • Event feedback

  2. Return the form to C&L by clicking the Submit button and send a copy to the FSLG Staff Assistant.

  3. The number of attendees at virtual events are counted by C&L.

Outreach Objectives

  1. TE/GE Outreach Strategy will help ensure outreach objectives are being met.

  2. Objective #1 OUTREACH PREPARATION - Information coordination among our external and internal partners will ensure the most meaningful presentations. Presenters will consider the audience level of tax knowledge during this preparation phase.

    No. Key Element Definition
    A. Initiates contact with customer to establish the needs and tax knowledge level of the audience.

    Recommendation: Make the initial contact within five business days of the customer's request.
    Establishes the needs and tax knowledge level of the audience:
    1. Information to be obtained will include the agenda of topics, tax expertise level of the audience, number of persons to be present, facility layout, equipment availability, etc.

    Initiates contact with customer:
    1. Information is solicited in advance of the speaking engagement, from the point of contact, by means of a standard pre-seminar letter and questionnaire.

    2. Telephone calls or e-mails may facilitate the gathering of essential information as well.

    B. Coordinates with internal as well as external professional partners to participate and/or cosponsor events, when appropriate.

    Recommendation: Within five business days, contact any internal or external resource individuals you are inviting to the outreach effort (based on customer consent).
    Coordinates with internal professional partners:
    1. When appropriate, solicits participation from internal partners (SB/SE, GLD, EP, EO, TAS etc.) when their expertise is needed.

    Coordinates with external professional partners:
    1. Extends invitations to the SSSA, Parallel Social Security Officer (PSSO), SSA Employer Service Liaison Officer (ESLO) and (in some regions) the SSA Wage Reporting Specialist.

    2. The SSA officials can address Form W-2 paper, electronic and Internet filing and reporting. SSA also offers other employer services such as SSN verification.

    When time constraints permit and the customer is agreeable to it, participation from our internal and external cadre of partners may add considerable value to the total program package offered to our customers.
    C. Assembles all necessary materials to deliver an effective presentation. Assembles all necessary materials:
    1. Makes effective presentation; materials, PowerPoint, etc., are reviewed for current relevant content before presentations.

    2. Corrections or changes to materials are documented.

  3. Objective #2 PRESENTATION SKILLS - Presenters must provide an organized and knowledgeable presentation that addresses the concerns of the customer. Presenters create a proper environment through professional appearance, demeanor and attitude.

    No. Key Element Definition
    A. Addresses the needs of the customer. Delivers a presentation that includes issues requested by the customer during the initial contact. These issues are discussed, explained and clarified.

    If issues are raised that were not part of the scheduled agenda, Presenters address these to the extent possible.

    If further research or referral to another division is required, Presenters make contact with the customer within ten calendar days following the presentation.
    B. Creates the proper environment by maintaining and conveying a professional attitude. Creates the proper environment:
    1. The proper environment is created by a combination of appropriate dress, demeanor and attitude on the part of the Presenters.

    2. The environment is one where good service to the customer is the goal.

    Maintains and conveys a professional attitude:
    1. A professional and neutral tone is established throughout the presentation. When challenged, Presenters are not defensive, threatening or intimidating.

    The forum remains an open environment for questions, suggestions, comments, etc. from the audience.
    C. Delivers an understandable and relevant presentation that is technically accurate and procedurally correct. The seminar/speech should be "user- friendly", using plain language and concrete examples to explain abstract theory as much as possible.

    When available, use examples, rulings and guidance that specifically apply to governmental employers.

    Presenters are knowledgeable in the topics covered so that an understanding of technical and procedural requirements are imparted to the customer.
    D. Ensures that customers are aware of Customer Assistance. Makes the customer aware of available Customer Assistance available on IRS.gov and taxpayeradvocateservice.irs.gov by giving a short overview of the material during the presentation.