25.30.3 Service Level Agreement between the Chief Financial Officer Division and the Taxpayer Advocate Service

Manual Transmittal

June 23, 2022

Purpose

(1) This transmits new IRM 25.30.3, Service Level Agreements, Service Level Agreement between the Chief Financial Officer Division and the Taxpayer Advocate Service.

Material Changes

(1) The purpose for developing and implementing this Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) is to establish uniform standards for the processing of work when the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) does not have the statutory or delegated authority to effect complete resolution of the taxpayer's problem, to ensure that TAS employees are included in training and Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses held by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Division that are pertinent to TAS casework, and to maintain a working knowledge in TAS of operational and functional authorities, policies and procedures.

Effect on Other Documents

The Service Level Agreement between the National Taxpayer Advocate and the CFO Division, effective August 31, 2021, is obsolete as of the IRM effective date.

Audience

TAS and CFO Division employees

Effective Date

(06-23-2022)

Erin M. Collins
National Taxpayer Advocate

Teresa R. Hunter
Chief Financial Officer

Program Scope and Objectives

  1. Purpose: The purpose for developing and implementing this Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) is to establish uniform standards for the processing of work when the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) does not have the statutory or delegated authority to effect complete resolution of the taxpayer's problem, to ensure that TAS employees are included in training and Continuing Professional Education (CPE) courses held by the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) Division that are pertinent to TAS casework, and to maintain a working knowledge in TAS of operational and functional authorities, policies and procedures.

  2. Audience: All TAS and CFO employees.

  3. Program Owner: National Taxpayer Advocate (NTA) and Chief Financial Officer.

Background

  1. The NTA reached an agreement with the Chief Financial Officer that outlines the procedures and responsibilities for the processing of TAS cases when either the statutory or delegated authority to complete case transactions rests outside of TAS. These agreements are known as Service Level Agreements (SLAs). See IRM 1.11.13.2.1.2, Service Level Agreements (SLA).

  2. The purpose for developing and implementing an SLA is to establish uniform standards for the processing of work when TAS does not have the statutory or delegated authority to effect complete resolution of the taxpayer's problem, to ensure that TAS employees are included in training and CPE courses held by the IRS Business Operating Division (BOD) or Function that are pertinent to TAS casework, and to maintain a working knowledge in TAS of operational and functional authorities, policies, and procedures.

  3. The CFO SLA effective August 31, 2021 was the SLA in existence prior to the issuance of this IRM.

Terms

  1. The following table contains a list of terms used throughout this IRM:

    Term Definition
    Operations Assistance Request The form (Form 12412), used by TAS to request assistance from an operating division or functional unit to complete an action on a TAS case when TAS does not have the authority to take the required action(s).
    Service Level Agreement An agreement outlining the procedures and responsibilities for the processing of TAS casework when the authority to complete case transactions rests outside of TAS.

Acronyms

  1. The following table contains a list of acronyms used throughout this IRM:

    Acronym Definition
    BOD Business Operating Division
    BOE Business Objects Enterprise
    CPE Continuing Professional Education
    DEDCA Deputy Executive Director Case Advocacy
    IDRS Integrated Data Retrieval System
    IRM Internal Revenue Manual
    ISTS Innocent Spouse Tracking System
    LTA Local Taxpayer Advocate
    NTA National Taxpayer Advocate
    OAR Operations Assistance Request
    SLA Service Level Agreement
    TAMIS Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System
    TAO Taxpayer Assistance Order
    TAS Taxpayer Advocate Service

Related Resources

  1. The following list provides resources related to this IRM:

    • CFO Addendum;

    • TAS Criteria Determinator Tool;

    • IRM 1.2.2.12.2, Authority of the National Taxpayer Advocate to Perform Certain Tax Administration Functions;

    • IRM 13.1.7, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Case Criteria;

    • IRM 13.1.19 , Advocating with Operations Assistance Requests (OARs);

    • IRM 13.1.20 , TAS Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO) Process; and

    • Form 12412, Operations Assistance Request.

Introduction

  1. This agreement outlines the procedures and responsibilities for the processing TAS casework when the authority to complete case transactions rests both within CFO responsibilities and outside TAS.

  2. The parties to this agreement are TAS represented by the NTA, and the CFO Division, represented by the CFO.

  3. This agreement is national in scope and will be the basis upon which determinations regarding the processing and procedures for TAS cases will be made by the parties.

  4. Local disagreements over the implementation of these provisions will be elevated through the appropriate management channels within TAS and the CFO Division for resolution. If resolution cannot be reached, then the matter will be elevated to the NTA and the CFO, who will negotiate with the appropriate parties.

Statement of Commitment

  1. The signatures of the NTA and the CFO on Form 2061 reflect concurrence that TAS casework requires priority consideration and will receive that consideration within the CFO.

  2. This IRM emphasizes the priority nature of a Taxpayer Advocate case, and encourages CFO employees and managers to work cooperatively with TAS to effect timely resolution of taxpayer problems.

  3. This IRM will be reviewed and reissued annually.

  4. All affected IRMs for the CFO Division, upon updating, will include a reference to IRM 25.30.3.

  5. TAS will provide training to its employees describing the roles and responsibilities of TAS personnel in the Operations Assistance Request (OAR) process, including proper routing of OARs, timely and accurate updates to the OAR field information on the Taxpayer Advocate Management Information System (TAMIS), and the process for elevating issues related to OAR processing.

  6. Training opportunities in the CFO Division will be communicated to TAS to ensure attendance of TAS personnel. TAS will work with the CFO Division to identify the number of slots available for the training. TAS will identify the appropriate TAS personnel who would serve as train-the trainers to attend this training. If travel is involved for TAS employees to attend training or CPE, TAS will be responsible for funding its employees.

  7. Training opportunities in TAS will be communicated to the CFO Division to ensure attendance of CFO personnel (i.e., Headquarters and campus liaisons). TAS will work with the CFO Division to identify the number of slots available for the training. The CFO Division will identify the appropriate personnel to attend this training (e.g., Annual TAS Symposium). If travel is involved for CFO employees to attend training, The CFO Division will be responsible for funding its employees.

Operations Assistance Request Process

  1. TAS uses the OAR process to refer a case to the CFO Division when TAS lacks either the statutory or the delegated authority to affect the resolution of the taxpayer's problem and the OAR specifically relates to work for which the CFO Division has responsibility. This authority can be found in IRM 13.1.4, TAS Authorities. TAS will use Form 12412, Taxpayer Advocate Service Operations Assistance Request, to initiate the OAR process.

  2. Counting of the Days: The first day is considered to begin on the workday the properly completed OAR is received by the CFO Division. For this purpose, the workday will end at 2:30 p.m. in the time zone receiving the OAR. The OARs received after 2:30 p.m. will be considered as received the next workday.

TAS and CFO Liaisons

  1. Each TAS office will appoint a liaison who will be responsible for the following:

    1. Ensuring accuracy of the OAR and forwarding the OARs from his or her respective office to the appropriate CFO Division Liaison when CFO is responsible for the action. See the CFO Addendum.

    2. Ensuring that the OAR is properly completed, that all related technical questions posed by the TAS employee have been resolved, that all necessary documents are attached, that any high profile or imminent statute cases are prominently marked for the CFO Division’s attention, and that the OAR is routed to the correct office within the CFO Division.

    3. Serving as the contact point for the appropriate CFO Division Liaison on matters outside the scope of the TAS case should discussion be necessary on administrative, technical, or procedural matters.

    4. Reviewing for the appropriate use of expedite processing to ensure TAS taxpayers most in need of assistance receive expedite service.

  2. The CFO Division will assign a division liaison in each campus where a Local Taxpayer Advocate (LTA) is located. The location and numbers of these liaisons may vary depending upon the business unit, the centralization of certain IRS work, and other factors.

  3. The CFO Division Liaison(s) will be responsible for accepting the OARs that require action from TAS, acknowledging receipt of the case, reviewing the case for appropriate assignment, assigning the case to the appropriate employee within the function, monitoring the case through its CFO Division conclusion, and providing TAS written approval (normally through return of the completed OAR) to input an adjustment or issue a manual refund after a CFO determination in accordance with TAS delegated authorities.

  4. In accordance with IRM 25.30.3.7 (5), the CFO Division Liaison will also be responsible for providing guidance and assistance to the TAS Liaison on the proper routing of OARs when needed.

  5. The CFO Division will maintain an addendum to this agreement listing the name and contact information for each assigned CFO Division Liaison, including the liaison’s telephone and fax number, mailing address, street address (for express mail), and manager’s name and phone number. The addendum will be updated and posted to the CFO Division website within seven (7) workdays of the date any change to the Liaison or contact information occurs.

Training Responsibilities

  1. TAS will provide training to its employees describing the roles and responsibilities of TAS personnel in the OAR process, including proper routing of OARs, timely and accurate updates to the OAR field information on TAMIS, and the process for elevating issues relating to OAR processing.

  2. TAS will work with the CFO Liaisons to identify those CFO Division employees who require awareness training on working OARs in accordance with TAS case processing requirements including timeliness, accuracy, and communication. To facilitate this training, TAS will provide appropriate training materials and instructors. Appropriate computer-based training will satisfy this requirement.

  3. The CFO Division will provide TAS the opportunity to provide TAS awareness case criteria training for appropriate employees, at least annually, during CPE sessions, group meetings, or other appropriate venues.

OAR Initiation

  1. TAS will ensure that cases meet appropriate TAS criteria prior to submitting an OAR to the CFO Division. TAS is responsible for the following:

    1. Building the case prior to its delivery to the CFO Division,

    2. Conducting all appropriate Integrated Data Retrieval System (IDRS), other systems, and IRM research,

    3. Identifying the issue(s) based on case analysis,

    4. Securing all pertinent and current documents, e.g., copies of returns, audit reports, adjustment documents, etc.,

    5. Requesting documentation from the taxpayer relevant to the issue, and

    6. Making a recommendation, where appropriate, based upon the technical knowledge of the case advocate, to the CFO Division as to the appropriate course of action. This recommendation should be supported by justification, e.g., a complete statement of facts providing reasons, addressing responsibility, willfulness, and any basis (IRM or Internal Revenue Code), for considering or reconsidering the request.

  2. TAS will also outline the account adjustments needed to implement TAS's recommended actions. All actions within TAS’s statutory and delegated authorities as pertain to the specific case, such as resolution of certain freezes, manual refunds, and other issues related to IRM 21, Customer Account Services, should be completed by TAS.

  3. TAS will complete Form 12412 to initiate the OAR process, and include the following information:

    1. TAMIS case file number,

    2. TAS employee’s name,

    3. TAS Liaison's name and contact information, including telephone number, address, and fax number,

    4. Criteria Code,

    5. TAS Serial Number,

    6. Primary and Secondary Core Issue Code, and

    7. Requested Completion Date.

  4. In addition, TAS will clearly identify those OARs that require expedite processing based on the facts and circumstances of the case (as defined in IRM 25.30.3.7.1 (1)). TAS will also clearly identify those OARs that are being sent to CFO due to authorities TAS has relinquished as of October 1, 2007. TAS will forward the OAR, along with the necessary supporting documentation, via Form 3210, Document Transmittal, to the appropriate CFO Division Liaison as defined in IRM 25.30.3.5 (2). In transmitting OARs, TAS will use the most expeditious method available in the given situation. Thus, to the extent possible and practical, TAS will transmit OARs, with scanned attachments, via encrypted E-mail. In offices where the TAS liaison and the CFO Division liaison are co-located, where practical, TAS will hand-deliver OARs to expedite processing. Otherwise, OARs and attachments will be faxed unless original documents are needed by CFO or attachments are too voluminous (for example, over 20 pages) or faxing would cause documents to be illegible. Original documentation, forwarded by next day or regular delivery service, will not be shipped until routing is confirmed with a phone call or fax.

  5. If unsure of the correct routing of an OAR, the TAS employee will contact the TAS Liaison or his or her manager in the co-located office. If necessary, the TAS Liaison or manager will contact the TAS Liaison in the co-located office, or the TAS Revenue Agent, TAS Revenue Officer or TAS Accounts Technical Advisor supporting that office. If these efforts are not successful in resolving the issue, the TAS Liaison will contact the CFO Division Liaison for additional assistance.

  6. The CFO Division Liaison will provide TAS with the name and telephone number of the CFO manager or employee to whom the case is assigned. This information will be provided to TAS on the Form 3210, Document Transmittal, by telephone, secure messaging email, or facsimile. The Form 3210 will be returned to the designated TAS Liaison by the timeframes outlined in IRM 25.30.3.7.1 (3) and IRM 25.30.3.7.2 (2).

OARs Requiring Expedite Processing

  1. TAS is responsible for clearly identifying those OARs that require expedite processing. No OAR will automatically receive expedite processing; requests for expedite processing will be made on a case-by-case basis and will be based on the facts and circumstances of the taxpayer’s case. TAS will generally request expedite processing of an OAR in those cases in which the failure to take the specific action requested will cause the taxpayer economic harm or burden, extended delays have occurred, repeated IRS failures to resolve the problem have taken place, the taxpayer is suffering significant health issues which may improve with earlier resolution, or when timeframes or statute consideration necessitate that case issues be worked sooner.

  2. When TAS determines that the OAR requires expedite processing, the TAS employee will submit Form 12412 to the appropriate CFO Division Liaison within one (1) workday once the OAR is sufficiently developed.

    Note:

    Innocent Spouse cases have processing timeframes based on statutory requirements. The statutory timeframes cannot be circumvented, even for economic burden cases. Check the Innocent Spouse Tracking System (ISTS) to determine if the timeframes are being met. If the timeframes are not met and the case requires expedite processing, the TAS employee will include an explanation with the OAR.

  3. When TAS has requested expedite processing, the CFO Division Liaison will acknowledge receipt of the OAR to the designated TAS Liaison via Form 3210, Document Transmittal, secure messaging email, facsimile, or by telephone, within one (1) workday of receipt of the properly completed OAR. The CFO Division Liaison will provide his or her relief/no relief decision within three (3) workdays from the acknowledgement date of a properly completed OAR by telephone, facsimile, secure messaging email, or hand delivery to the TAS employee. Telephone responses are acceptable if followed up, within the time agreed upon, with the necessary documentation.

OARs Not Requiring Expedite Processing

  1. For cases that do not require expedite processing, the TAS employee will submit Form 12412 to the appropriate CFO Division Liaison at the earliest possible date. If the CFO employee indicates upon receipt of the OAR that he or she is unable to complete the OAR by the requested completion date, the TAS employee will contact the assigned CFO employee to negotiate or renegotiate the earliest possible requested completion date.

  2. For OARs that do not require expedite processing, the CFO Division Liaison will acknowledge receipt of the OAR to the designated TAS Liaison via Form 3210, secure messaging email, facsimile or by telephone contact with TAS, within three (3) workdays of receipt of the properly completed OAR. If necessary, the CFO employee assigned the OAR will negotiate with the TAS employee a reasonable timeframe for OAR resolution.

Perfecting and Processing the OAR

  1. TAS employees should direct to the appropriate TAS Liaison all procedural or technical questions not directly related to an OAR that has already been referred. The TAS Liaison will decide, after consulting TAS subject matter experts, whether to forward the matter to the CFO Division Liaison. If the OAR contains an inappropriate technical assistance request, the CFO Division Liaison will advise the TAS employee within three (3) workdays that the OAR will be returned. Prior to rejecting the matter, the CFO Division Liaison will call the TAS Liaison to discuss the rejection and provide TAS a reasonable opportunity to correct the request.

    Example:

    One example of an inappropriate technical assistance request is an OAR that requests CFO to provide OAR routing information or asks CFO what documentation is required to process the case.

  2. If an OAR is routed by TAS to the incorrect office or campus location or is regarding an issue not within CFO’s jurisdiction, the CFO Division Liaison will reject and return the OAR to TAS within three (3) workdays of receipt or within (1) workday where TAS has requested expedite processing. The CFO Division Liaison will complete Section VI of Form 12412 indicating the reason for the rejection, citing the CFO Addendum and IRM references (when applicable). TAS will close the OAR on TAMIS as rejected and issue a new OAR with the correct routing information.

    Note:

    If the OAR is routed to the incorrect CFO Division Liaison, office or campus location because the routing information in the addendum has changed but has not been updated by CFO, the CFO Division Liaison will route the OAR to the new Liaison, office or campus location and provide the assigned TAS employee with the new routing information.

  3. If the CFO Division Liaison/employee determines additional research or documentation is required on an OAR, the CFO Division Liaison will contact the assigned TAS employee within one (1) workday of the determination, and within one (1) workday of the receipt of the OAR in the case of expedite processing OARs, to obtain information and to negotiate the requested completion date. If the assigned TAS employee cannot provide the information within three (3) workdays of the request, the CFO Division Liaison may return the OAR to TAS and the case will be closed out of the unit inventory. CFO may provide TAS additional time to obtain the information, where appropriate. The CFO Division Liaison will complete Section VI of Form 12412 indicating the reason(s) for the rejection, including that TAS did not timely provide necessary documentation upon request, and citing the IRM references (when applicable).

  4. If the CFO rejects an OAR for incorrect routing or missing documentation, and TAS believes sufficient information has been provided, the TAS Liaison will discuss any disagreement with the CFO Division Liaison within three (3) workdays (or one (1) workday if the OAR was an expedite processing OAR) of the receipt of the Form 12412 prior to elevating to the LTA in the originating TAS Office.

  5. If the CFO Division Liaison believes TAS has the authority to take the action(s) requested on the OAR, the CFO Division Liaison will contact the TAS Liaison within one (1) workday of the determination to discuss his or her recommendation prior to returning the OAR. If the TAS Liaison agrees with the CFO Division Liaison’s recommendation, the CFO Division Liaison will return the OAR to TAS and the case will be closed out of the unit’s inventory. The CFO Division Liaison will complete Section VI of Form 12412 indicating the reason for the rejection citing IRM references. If the CFO Division Liaison and TAS Liaison cannot reach agreement, the disagreement will be elevated to both Liaisons’ immediate managers. The managers will discuss the case and try to agree on the case resolution. If agreement on the appropriate resolution cannot be reached within three (3) workdays, both managers will elevate the issue through the appropriate management channels within TAS and the CFO Division for resolution or issuance of a Taxpayer Assistance Order (TAO) by the LTA.

  6. The TAS employee and the CFO employee assigned the OAR will agree upon the timeframes for follow-up based on the facts and circumstances of the particular case.

  7. If additional time is needed to complete the OAR, the CFO employee assigned to the OAR will contact the TAS employee prior to the negotiated completion date. If resolution of the taxpayer's case cannot be completed by the requested completion date, or by the negotiated completion date, the CFO employee will elevate the matter to the CFO Division Liaison. The TAS employee will immediately inform his or her manager of the situation. The TAS manager, working with the TAS Liaison in the initiating TAS office, will then contact the CFO Division Liaison to discuss the reason(s) for the delay.

  8. If the OAR is not completed by the requested or negotiated completion date, the TAS employee will elevate this problem to his or her immediate manager the workday after the expired completion date. The TAS manager will contact the immediate manager of the CFO employee assigned to the OAR.

  9. If the CFO employee assigned to the OAR and the TAS employee cannot agree upon the appropriate resolution of the taxpayer's problem, the TAS employee and CFO employee will elevate this disagreement to their immediate managers. If an agreement on the appropriate resolution cannot be reached within three (3) workdays, the managers will elevate the issue through the appropriate management channels within TAS and the CFO Division for resolution or consideration of a TAO by the LTA.

  10. In accordance with IRM 13, Taxpayer Advocate Service, the assigned TAS employee will be responsible for keeping the taxpayer/practitioner apprised of the progress of the case and will follow-up with the CFO employee assigned the OAR for a status report, as necessary. The TAS employee assigned the case will follow up with the CFO employee assigned the OAR if a response has not been received by the requested or negotiated completion date. The CFO Division workgroup (employee) assigned the case will make necessary contacts with the taxpayer/practitioner. The CFO Division employee assigned the OAR will discuss his or her findings and recommendations on the final disposition of the OAR with the assigned TAS employee prior to communicating the final decision to the taxpayer or issuing any closing documents. The TAS employee will also be responsible for communicating the final decision on the OAR to the taxpayer/practitioner after holding any necessary discussions with the appropriate CFO Division personnel. The CFO Division will provide the official closing documents to the taxpayer in accordance with IRM 25.30.3.8 (11).

  11. The CFO Division is responsible for issuing any official closing documents to the taxpayer. For example, a notice of deficiency, release of levy, or penalty denial letter will be provided to the taxpayer with a copy to TAS by the CFO employee who handled the case.

  12. Upon closing the OAR, the CFO employee will complete Section VI of Form 12412 and return it to the TAS employee assigned the case. The OAR must be returned within three (3) workdays from the date all actions have been completed and transactions input. OARs will be closed on TAMIS upon receipt of the Form 12412 from the CFO employee and, if required, upon TAS input of an adjustment or manual refund where such action has been approved in writing by the CFO Division Liaison (normally through return of the completed OAR) in accordance with TAS delegated authorities.

Other Responsibilities

  1. The TAS Deputy Executive Directors Case Advocacy (DEDCAs) or their designees and the appropriate CFO Division Liaisons and/or appropriate CFO managers will meet at least quarterly, or more often if either party determines a need, to discuss issues of importance that may include, but are not limited to, the appropriateness of TAS criteria classification, the quality/accuracy of case development, the use of expedite process, the effect on OAR volumes resulting from changes to TAS delegated authorities, and the OAR process. The meetings will be organized by TAS with CFO input. The TAS DEDCAs will provide the NTA, the Deputy NTA, the Executive Director Case Advocacy, and the CFO with regular reports on the results of these discussions. CFO meeting participants will provide the Deputy Associate CFO for Custodial Financial Management regular reports on the results of these meetings and the Deputy Associate CFO for Custodial Financial Management will brief the CFO and Associate CFO for Financial Management as appropriate.

  2. TAS will provide the appropriate CFO Division Liaison(s) with access to the CFO OAR reports on the TAS Business Objects Enterprise (BOE) to identify OARs in each respective office. This will assist the CFO Division Liaison(s) in monitoring their OAR inventory. In addition, TAS will either provide CFO access to TAMIS BOE or provide CFO a monthly report on the total volume of expedited OARs by Criteria Code for the month and fiscal year cumulative with prior year comparison.

  3. TAS will update TAMIS upon receipt of an OAR acknowledgement, notification of a misrouted or rejected OAR, a negotiated completion date, and a completed OAR. This will ensure the data provided in the OAR reports available on the TAS TAMIS BOE is accurate because the data is based on the information reflected in TAMIS. The CFO Division will designate a TAMIS BOE Administrator who will be responsible for administering access to the TAMIS BOE.

  4. The CFO Division Liaison will be responsible for effectively managing the OAR inventory and providing reports to management that identify OARs not closed bythe requested or negotiated date.

Joint Improvement Efforts

  1. The Executive Director Systemic Advocacy (EDSA) will provide information on trends, legislative recommendations, and systemic and procedural problems to the CFO Division.

  2. The CFO Division will seek and identify opportunities to work with the EDSA who will advocate for taxpayers and ensure their interests and concerns are represented during the development of new IRS policies, systems, procedures, and programs.

  3. TAS and the CFO Division agree to evaluate the impact on the timeframes for responding and address any concerns of either party in future revisions of this SLA. To assist in making this determination, TAS will provide CFO current and prior year historical data on expedited OARs, as set out in IRM 25.30.3.9 (2).

Implementation and Communication

  1. TAS and the CFO Division will convene a cross-functional team to develop a communication strategy that will provide the terms of IRM 25.30.3 to all appropriate employees, consistent with the effective date agreed to by the parties.

CFO SLA Addendum

See the CFO Addendum.