22.40.1 Outreach

Manual Transmittal

December 17, 2019

Purpose

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

Material Changes

(1) Made other editorial changes as needed.

(2) 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 August 29, 2016.

Audience

Tax Exempt and Government Entities
Exempt Organizations
Government Entities
Federal, State and Local Governments

Effective Date

(12-17-2019)


Margaret Von Lienen
Director, Exempt Organizations and Government Entities
Tax Exempt Government Entities

Overview

  1. FSL/ET 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 Employment Tax (FSL/ET) outreach activities and their role in accomplishing the FSL/ET mission.

  3. Outreach includes educational activities that engage voluntary participation with FSL/ET customers. Educational activities support customer efforts to comply with the tax laws. They include:

    • Direct engagements with customers. For example, face-to-face or virtual instruction provided to customers in response to needs identified by Specialists during an examination.

    • Reaching customers through stakeholder engagement activities. For example, a Specialist presents face-to-face or virtually to an Association representative of FSL/ET customers.

    • Customer Assistance provided in conjunction with an examination, post-examination or via telecommunication and email may become outreach opportunities for Specialists.

  4. FSL/ET presenters (Presenters) may include the following:

    • FSL/ET Area Manager

    • FSL/ET Staff Assistant

    • Managers (Field, CP&C or K-Net)

    • Tax Law Specialists

    • FSL/ET Specialists

    • Analysts

Stakeholder Outreach

  1. Stakeholder Outreach includes activities with external partners to identify ways to increase FSL/ET customers’ compliance. New and expanded partnerships are a way to address systematic and/or regional noncompliance. Examples of stakeholder outreach include meetings with:

    • State Social Security Administrator (SSSA)

    • Social Security Administration (SSA)

    • Practitioner groups

    • Other government agencies

Customer Outreach

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

    • Workshops or seminars

    • Customer association conferences and meetings

    • Webinars

    • Podcasts

  2. Customer outreach conducted virtually or face-to-face is the preferred compliance tool if an opportunity to educate and interact with large numbers of customers exists.

  3. Face-to-face outreach can be costly. Presenters are asked to weigh other options and when possible, using virtual means to educate. When weighing options Presenters should consider these factors:

    • Market segment impact

    • Expected number of attendees

    • Size and scope of the organization

    • Travel costs

    • Potential impact on compliance issues

    • Value of the partnerships

    • Other priorities

  4. Virtual options for outreach should be discussed with Communications and Liaison (C&L) as early as possible.

Outreach Selection Process

  1. The FSL/ET Area Manager must approve all proposed outreach events. Consideration will be given to the current TE/GE Outreach Strategy, the FSL/ET work plan, and the analysis of factors discussed in 2.40.1.1.2 item 3.

Systemic Noncompliance

  1. Systemic noncompliance:

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

    • Requires customer based focused outreach.

  2. Identification of systematic problems are generally data driven.

Regional Noncompliance

  1. Regional noncompliance means that the compliance problem:

    • Exists within a subset of a customer population.

    • May cover a geographic area that does not align with how FSL/ET staff is organized.

  2. FSL/ET field groups can:

    • Recognize and report regional noncompliance.

    • Propose outreach activity to improve voluntary compliance.

Local Noncompliance

  1. Local noncompliance is associated within a small geographic area or just one customer.

  2. The local field groups may be best prepared to recommend an appropriate outreach activity and follow-up action. This could include virtual products, face-to-face activity with a customer department, or one-on-one with individual employees working through the compliance issue.

Outreach Planning

  1. The FSL/ET Area Manager is responsible for requesting outreach plans from FSL/ET Managers. If required, managers will evaluate outreach needs within their assigned geographical area.

  2. Because FSL/ET 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)

  3. Secure Approval for Outreach.
    Presenters complete Form 14380, TE/GE Outreach Request Form, for each outreach event requested. Submit the form for approval through these management levels:

    1. Manager.

    2. Manager will forward to FSL/ET Staff Assistant and CC: FSL/ET Area Manager’s for Area Manager approval.

    3. FSL/ET Staff Assistant will forward the request to C&L.

  4. C&L will complete all other forms and secure the necessary approvals. For virtual products, such as videos Presenter may be asked to prepare a SVEB Form for Video Board approval.

  5. C&L will send Form 14380, TE/GE Outreach Request Form, with reporting instructions for SETR, WebETS and Concur, to the Presenter.

  6. 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).

    • Secure approval.

    • 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 FSL/ET to maintain quality outreach materials to ensure:

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

    • The information presented is the same across the country.

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

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

  4. Outreach products for distribution or available to the public include:

    • Written guides

    • Fact sheets

    • Charts

    • Publications

    • Slides

  5. 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.

FSL/ET Outreach Data Capture

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

    • Actual audience size

    • Actual cost

    • Event feedback

  2. Return the updated Form 14380 to C&L by clicking the Submit button.

  3. Email a copy of the updated Form 14380 to the FSL/ET Staff Assistant.

  4. Virtual event views are tracked by C&L.

Outreach Expectations

  1. The FSL/ET outreach program objectives will align with TE/GE Outreach Strategy and the unique needs of FSL/ET customers.

  2. No. Key Element Definition
    A. Initiates contact with customer to establish the needs and tax knowledge level of the audience.
    Preferably within five days of the customer’s request.
    Establishes the needs and tax knowledge of the audience:
    1. Document tax topics, level of tax expertise of audience, expected attendance, venue, audio/visual equipment needs, etc.

    Initiates contact with customer:
    1. Establish mutual expectations with the customer well in advance of presentation.

    2. Exchange contact information like email, telephone numbers, and addresses.

    B. Coordinates as needed with internal and external professional partners.
     
    Participation from our internal and external cadre of partners may add considerable value to outreach. Presenters should coordinate with internal professional partners:
    1. When appropriate, solicits participation from internal partners (SB/SE, GLD, EP, EO, TAS etc.) when their expertise is needed.

    And coordinates promptly with external professional partners:
    1. If needed 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. SSA officials can address Form W-2 paper, electronic and Internet filing and reporting. SSA also offers other employer services such as SSN verification.

    C. Assembles materials to deliver an effective presentation. Assembles materials:
    1. Ensure that all presentation; materials are current, relevant, and approved.

  3. Presentation Skills - Presenters must provide an organized and knowledgeable presentation that addresses the concerns of the customer.

    No. Key Element Definition
    A. Addresses the needs of the customer. Delivers a presentation that includes issues requested by the customer and agreed upon.

    When 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 follow up with the customer promptly.
    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.

    Maintains and conveys a professional attitude:
    1. A professional and neutral tone is desirable. When challenged, Presenters do not become defensive or intimidating.

    2. Encourage an open environment for discussion from the audience.

    C. Delivers an understandable and relevant presentation that is technically accurate and procedurally correct.
    1. The presentation should use plain language and offer relevant examples.

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

    3. Be knowledgeable about the topics covered so that an understanding of technical and procedural requirements may be 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.