25.13.1  Taxpayer Correspondence Services

Manual Transmittal

October 14, 2015

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 25.13.1, Taxpayer Correspondence, Taxpayer Correspondence Services.

Material Changes

(1) The Office of Taxpayer Correspondence realigned September 2014 to Distribution, Media and Publications.

(2) This IRM has been reorganized to reflect current workflow processes, update web links and to combine related subsections and group similar topics in new subsections, and to clarify guidance and improve reading flow.

(3) The following sections have been revised:

  • Updated IRM 25.13.1.1(2) description of available services provided by OTC

  • Updated IRM 25.13.1.1 (3) key responsibilities for clarity and added Erroneous Taxpayer Correspondence (ETC)

  • Updated IRM 25.13.1.1(4) process and web site - Green Button Process revised to Request Services Process.

  • Updated IRM 25.13.1.1(5) process and web site - Red Button Process revised to Report Erroneous Correspondence Process

  • Updated IRM 25.13.1.1.1(1) content by removing the text “merged the responsibilities of the former Taxpayer Communications Tax Group, Notice Gatekeeper, and Notice Improvement Offices”

  • Replaced IRM 25.13.1.1.1(2) content with IRM 25.13.1.1.1(2(a) and (b) to describe processes

  • Deleted IRM 25.13.1.1.1(3) content - process described in IRM 25.13.1.1.1.(2)

  • Updated IRM 25.13.1.2 to display current workload processes removed and replace with IRM 25.13.1.2.1(1); and renamed Request for New and Revised Taxpayer Correspondence Products - Request Services Process

  • Revised IRM 25.13.1.2. to provide detailed instructions on how to submit service request and an overview of OTC’s coordination with stakeholder to provide final product; updated link; deleted Note: Media and Publications and information on draft copies of letters or notices no longer pertinent information

  • Added IRM 25.13.1.2(3) – steps 1-4 – to display current workload processes

  • Added sections 25.13.1.2 (4), (5), (6), and (7) – to display current workload processes

  • Consolidated IRM 25.13.1.2.2; and, renumbered to IRM 25.13.1.2.1

  • IRM 25.13.1.2.1(1) – removed the text “This includes forecasting and downstream impacts” not pertinent to workload

  • Added IRM 25.13.1.2.1(3) – add to display current workload processes

  • Consolidated IRM 25.13.1.2.2 (3); and, renumbered IRM 25.13.1.2.1(4)

  • IRM 25.13.1.3 – this entire section has been revised to reflect current workload processes

  • Changed title from Erroneous Correspondence Procedures – Red Button Process to Erroneous Correspondence Procedures – Report Erroneous Correspondence Process

  • IRM 25.13.1.3(1) - to display revised content

  • IRM 25.13.1.3(2) - replaced with new content

  • IRM 25.13.1.3(3) – combined and renumbered 25.13.1.3(4)

  • IRM 25.13.1.3(4) – revised and renumbered IRM 25.13.1.3(3)

  • IRM 25.13.1.3(6) – renumbered IRM 25.13.1.3(4)

  • IRM 25.13.1.3(7) – renumbered IRM 25.13.1.3(6)

  • IRM 25.13.1.3(8) – revised content to steps and renumbered IRM 25.13.1.3(7)

  • IRM 25.13.1.3(9) – consolidated into IRM 25.13.1.3(7)

  • IRM 25.13.1.3(10) – consolidated into IRM 25.13.1.3(7)

  • IRM 25.13.1.3.1 – Existing content merged into 25.13.1.3 for clarity, new content added

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 21.3.1.1.1, Erroneous Correspondence Procedures, dated 01-01-2011, is superseded.

Audience

The policies, procedures and instructions outlined in this IRM apply to all divisions, functional units, employees and contractors within the IRS who are responsible for creating or revising taxpayer correspondence products, letters or notices.

Effective Date

(10-14-2015)

Patricia Evans
Director, Distribution - Media and Publications
Wage and Investment Division

25.13.1.1  (10-14-2015)
Overview of Taxpayer Correspondence Services

  1. Purpose. This IRM section describes the responsibilities of the Office of Taxpayer Correspondence (OTC). OTC was established to centralize Servicewide responsibility for taxpayer correspondence.

  2. Scope. The OTC is the IRS hub for comprehensive correspondence services, from design and development to evaluating effectiveness. OTC reviews new and existing taxpayer correspondence for consistency and clarity. We apply federal plain language guidelines to ensure taxpayers understand how to resolve their tax issues.

  3. Key Responsibilities. The OTC is responsible for:

    • Creating and revising taxpayer correspondence products, both electronic and paper

    • Forecasting and measuring downstream impact of correspondence products

    • Collecting and evaluating correspondence data

    • Coordinating Service-wide response to significant volumes of Erroneous Taxpayer Correspondence (ETC) and

    • Implementing taxpayer correspondence standards, procedures, and policies

  4. Requesting Services Process. Request Services is the online process for all requests to revise or create IRS correspondence to taxpayers and request for taxpayer correspondence data. Request Services is on the OTC website at: http://win.web.irs.gov/mp/mp_OTC.htm.

  5. Reporting Erroneous Correspondence. Report Erroneous Correspondence process is for reporting the risk or occurrence of correspondence sent erroneously to taxpayers (Erroneous Taxpayer Correspondence (ETC)). The OTC Data Metrics and Error Resolution office is the point of contact for ETC. Reporting Erroneous Correspondence is available at: http://gatekeeper.web.irs.gov/snipMain.aspx.

25.13.1.1.1  (10-14-2015)
Office of Taxpayer Correspondence

  1. The Office of Taxpayer Correspondence (OTC) is responsible for creating simpler, easier to read correspondence for taxpayers, reducing taxpayer burden, and broadening the use of electronic interactions with a focus on successful taxpayer and business outcomes.

  2. The OTC uses two primary processes:

    1. Request Services is for requesting services to revise or create new correspondence to taxpayers:
      - Electronic and paper taxpayer correspondence
      - Reports of significant volumes of erroneous correspondence the IRS issued or is at risk of issuing

    2. Report Erroneous Correspondence is for handling erroneous taxpayer correspondence:
      - Reports of individual cases of erroneous taxpayer correspondence

25.13.1.2  (10-14-2015)
Request for New and Revised Taxpayer Correspondence Products - Request Services Process

  1. The OTC works with letter owners to create and revise taxpayer correspondence, including:

    • CP Notices

    • Correspondex letters

    • Repository letters

    • Automated Collection System (ACS) letters

    • Report Generation Software (RGS) letters

  2. The OTC will work with organizations to develop and design taxpayer correspondence. The program office submits requests for OTC services through the Request Services application found on the OTC Website.

  3. To create or revise any correspondence product that will go to 10 or more taxpayers submit a Request Services by following these steps:

    1. Click the Request Services button

    2. Select Request Type and provide a brief description (for a revision also provide CP/letter number)

    3. Check the Affordable Care Act (ACA) box if your request is ACA related

    4. Attach supporting documentation (such as legislative references, policy statements, etc.)

    5. Submit request

  4. The request for services will be assigned to a Customer Accounts Management analyst for initial contact within 2 business days.

  5. The OTC will initiate contact with stakeholders and partners for development and implementation issues:

    • Accounts Management Services - OTC will prepare an impact assessment of toll-free telephone numbers on new products

    • Correspondence Production Services - OTC will coordinate the production of new products with Correspondence Production Services (CPS)

    • Information Technology - OTC will prepare programming requirements and submit Unified Work Requests for correspondence products. OTC will coordinate product review for Notice Start-Up

  6. OTC will send a copy of new and revised correspondence products to Counsel to determine if legally sufficient language is incorporated in the correspondence.

  7. Tax Advocate Services (TAS) - OTC will share an advance copy of new and revised correspondence products with TAS.

    • TAS will have two weeks to provide feedback on taxpayer rights and taxpayer burden issues.

    • OTC will share feedback with product owner.

    • The product owner and OTC will consider changes based on TAS feedback.

25.13.1.2.1  (10-14-2015)
Requests for Correspondence Data, Forecasting and Downstream Impacts

  1. The OTC will provide data, analysis and metrics for correspondence issues by submitting a Request for Services.

  2. Data reports include the following:

    • Historical volumes of notices generated

    • Historical response rates for toll-free phones and paper processing

    • Projected response rates for toll-free phones and paper processing

    • Correspondence cost information including postage costs

    • Sample images of correspondence (not reprints of notices/letters sent to taxpayers)

    • Sample data sets from notice populations

  3. Click the Request Services button to submit Data and Forecasting request.

  4. Include as much information as possible to describe the desired information.

    Note:

    Do not include Personally Identifiable Information (PII)

25.13.1.3  (10-14-2015)
Erroneous Correspondence Procedures - Report Erroneous Correspondence Process

  1. All IRS employees are responsible for reporting any incident or potential incident of erroneous taxpayer correspondence to the Office of Taxpayer Correspondence, Data Metrics and Error Resolution (DMER) office through the Report Erroneous Correspondence process.

  2. Correspondence is erroneous only when it is the result of an IRS error, not ID Theft or taxpayer error. The following items are not considered ETC:

    • Correspondence sent to the taxpayer's address of record, even if the taxpayer no longer resides or receives mail at the address

    • Correspondence sent to locate delinquent taxpayers

    • Correspondence issued to an address from a return filed fraudulently or involving potential identity theft

  3. ETC can be notices, letters, transcripts, faxes, or other electronic transmissions. The error may be:

    • Correspondence sent in error

    • Correspondence with errors in the content

  4. Correspondence sent in error may be:

    • Return Delinquency notices we sent to taxpayers who filed on time

    • Math error notices we sent to taxpayers whose returns were correct as filed

  5. Correspondence with errors in the content includes, but are not limited to:

    • Mixed entity information (such as correct taxpayer information is on page 1, but unrelated taxpayer information is on page 2)

    • Incorrect, missing, or unreadable text (such as incorrect phone number, wrong or missing tax period or MFT, blurry or misaligned print)

    • Incorrect account information (such as $100,000 instead of $10,000 or math error explanation in correspondence doesn't match math error code on IDRS)

    • Nonsensical/garbled content (such as the text makes no sense or is unreadable)

    • Misspellings, typographical errors, or incorrect text

    • Potential Breaches of Personally Identifiable Information (PII) or Sensitive But Unclassified (SBU) data, such as multiple documents in one envelope, taxpayer/TIN mismatch, misdirected faxes. See IRM 10.8.1.4.14.1.3, Personally Identifiable Information (PII), for a more comprehensive definition of PII

  6. Correspondence sent to the wrong party is misdirected mail unless it is correspondence an IRS employee sent: (a) after following all established procedures to locate and contact a taxpayer at a potentially new address or (b) to a taxpayer's IRS address of record. Use the following instructions when handling ALL misdirected mail:

    1. Apologize to the taxpayer

    2. Request the taxpayer return the mail in a sealed envelope

    3. Ask the taxpayer to write "Misdirected Mail" and "Return to Sender on the envelope and place it in the mail" , if taxpayer refuses ask them to destroy the correspondence

  7. Report all ETC using the Report Erroneous Correspondence process. Visit the Servicewide Notice Information Program (SNIP) website: http://gatekeeper.web.irs.gov/snipmain.aspx.

    1. Click the Report Erroneous Correspondence tab on the SNIP menu

    2. Follow the prompts and answer the questions

    3. Provide a detailed description - Include as much detail as possible on the form for our research, including details of the error, how you identified it, and all PII. The PII information will be encrypted when you transmit the form through the Report Erroneous Correspondence tab. If you have documentation, check Employee to Fax box

    4. Review the information you entered for accuracy

    5. Submit your information and a fax cover sheet will appear with your System for Tracking and Analysis of Correspondence Impact (STACI) case number

      Note:

      If you checked Employee to fax - fax cover sheet will appear with your name and STACI case number

    6. Complete the fax cover sheet and fax any supporting documentation to the fax number on the cover sheet (855-696-9562)

    7. Include the STACI case number on any additional information you need to submit at a later date (such as erroneous correspondence you requested and received from the taxpayer)

      Note:

      The DMER staff will review the report and contact you for additional information within 2 business days, if necessary.


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