- 4.2.7 Ex Parte Communication Procedures
- 126.96.36.199 Program Scope and Objectives
- 188.8.131.52.1 Background
- 184.108.40.206.2 Authority
- 220.127.116.11.3 Responsibilities
- 18.104.22.168.4 Program Controls
- 22.214.171.124.5 Acronyms
- 126.96.36.199 Definitions
- 188.8.131.52 Responsibility for Compliance with the Provisions of the Restructuring and Reform Act (RRA) 98 Section 1001(a)(4)
- 184.108.40.206 Sending the Administrative File to Appeals
- 220.127.116.11.1 Rebuttals of the Taxpayer's Protest
- 18.104.22.168.2 Examination of Years After Transmission to Appeals
- 22.214.171.124 Review of New Information or Evidence Submitted to Appeals
- 126.96.36.199 Refund Claims During the Appeals Process
- 188.8.131.52 Communicating with Appeals on Closed Cases
Part 4. Examining Process
Chapter 2. General Examining Procedures
Section 7. Ex Parte Communication Procedures
June 29, 2017
(1) This transmits revised IRM 4.2.7, General Examining Procedures, Ex Parte Communication Procedures.
(1) Added IRM 184.108.40.206, Program Scope and Objectives.
(2) Incorporated information in IRM 220.127.116.11, Overview, into the new IRM 18.104.22.168, Program Scope and Objectives.
(3) Added Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) information to IRM 22.214.171.124.3.
(4) Added items to IRM 126.96.36.199 to clarify types of communications that are not ex parte.
(5) Rearranged information in IRM 188.8.131.52 for clarity purposes.
(6) Renamed IRM 184.108.40.206, Sending the Administrative File to Appeals.
(7) Rewrote IRM 220.127.116.11 for clarity, deleted duplicative information already existing in other IRMs, and added link to the other IRM sites.
(8) Added EO letter reference to IRM 18.104.22.168.1.
(9) Rewrote IRM 22.214.171.124 for clarity, deleted duplicative information already existing in other IRMs, and added links to the other IRM sites.
(10) Renamed IRM 126.96.36.199, Communicating with Appeals on Closed Cases and added information regarding post-settlement conferences.
(11) This manual has been written to comply with the Plain Writing Act. For additional information on the Plain Writing Act, see http://www.plainlanguage.gov/.
(12) The table below provides a listing of old sections of IRM 4.2.7 and the corresponding new sections.
|Old Section||New Section|
|188.8.131.52, Overview||IRM 184.108.40.206, Program Scope and Objectives|
|220.127.116.11, Dissenting Memoranda||IRM 18.104.22.168, Communicating with Appeals on Closed Cases|
Margaret Von Lienen
Tax Exempt and Government Entities
Purpose: This manual focuses on ensuring communication between IRS and Appeals employees doesn’t compromise or appear to compromise Appeals independence. Topics include:
Compliance with the Restructuring and Reform Act (RRA) 98 Section 1001(a)(4)
Sending the administrative file to Appeals
Reviewing new information on a case in Appeals
Communicating with Appeals on closed cases
Audience: The procedures in this manual apply to all IRS Examination employees, except for Appeals. Appeals employees’ procedures are in IRM 8.1.10, Appeals Function, Ex Parte Communications.
Policy Owner: Director, Exempt Organizations
Program Owner: Exempt Organizations
The purpose of this program is to ensure the independence of Appeals while maintaining open lines of communication between Appeals and the taxpayer/representative. This program is committed to avoiding the appearance of compromising Appeals independence.
This program provides guidelines defining ex parte communications and communication between IRS Examination employees and Appeals.
IRS must maintain an independent Appeals function and prohibit ex parte communication between Appeals and other IRS employees. (Section 1001(a) of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, Public Law No. 105-206, 112 Stat. 685 (RRA))
The initial guidance was provided in Rev. Proc. 2000-43, 2000-2 C.B. 404. Rev. Proc. 2012-18, 2012-10 I.R.B. 455, superseded Rev. Proc. 2000-43.
All IRS employees share the responsibility to ensure that communications with Appeals do not compromise or appear to compromise the independence of Appeals.
This includes oral and written communications.
Taxpayer Bill of Rights: In June of 2014 the IRS adopted the Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR). Consider these rights during the course of carrying out your duties. For additional information refer to Policy 1-236 and Taxpayer Bill of Rights (TBOR) at https://www.irs.gov/taxpayer-bill-of-rights.
IRS employees should consult the following sources to ensure adherence to these guidelines:
Section 1001(a) of the Internal Revenue Service Restructuring and Reform Act of 1998, Public Law No. 105-206, 112 Stat. 685
Rev. Proc. 2012-18
The table lists commonly used acronyms and their definitions.
Acronym Definition ATE Appeals Technical Employee EO Exempt Organizations IRM Internal Revenue Manual IRS Internal Revenue Service LB&I Large Business and International RRA Restructuring and Reform Act SB/SE Small Business/Self Employed TBOR Taxpayer Bill of Rights TE/GE Tax Exempt/Government Entities W&I Wage & Investment
"Ex Parte Communication" is a communication between any Appeals employee and employees of other IRS functions without the taxpayer/representative having an opportunity to participate in the communication.
"Communications" includes oral or written (manually or electronically generated).
Appeals employee includes, but is not limited to, the following:
Appeals Team Case Leaders
Appeals Tax Computation Specialists
"Ex Parte Communication" does not include:
Database inquiries (such as account inquiries, transcript requests and other similar inquiries conducted in an electronic environment). This exception doesn’t apply to the administrative file, which may be in electronic format.
Communication solely between or among Appeals employees.
Communication with other governmental entities.
Communication in which the taxpayer or representative is given an opportunity to participate.
Communication about ministerial, administrative, or procedural matters.
Communication as part of the Fast Track Settlement process.
Non-case specific communication between Appeals and other IRS functions.
"Ex Parte Communication" generally doesn’t include communication between Appeals and IRS functions other than originating functions. However, all IRS employees, consultants and experts, including Counsel and Criminal Investigation employees, must avoid communications with Appeals that may appear to compromise its independence, as described in Rev. Proc. 2012-18 Sections 2.06 and 2.07, and IRM 22.214.171.124, below.
"Originating Function" is an organization within the IRS that makes a determination subject to the Appeals process. This includes:
Service Center (Campus functions)
A successor organization
The "Administrative File" that the originating function sends to Appeals lists the boundaries of the dispute between the taxpayer and the IRS. This file forms the basis for Appeals to assume jurisdiction of a case. The administrative file contains the following types of items:
Rebuttal memorandum that was shared with the taxpayer/representative
All IRS and Counsel employees share the responsibility to ensure that communications do not appear to compromise the independence of Appeals.
All IRS employees will make every effort to promptly end any communications not permitted by the ex parte communication rules.
The prohibition against ex parte communications applies to communications between any Appeals employee and any originating function employee, including but not limited to:
Tax Computation Specialists
An originating function employee must request their group manager’s approval before communicating with an Appeals officer or Appeals manager.
The following table describes the originating function group manager's responsibilities respecting any request to communicate with Appeals.
IF the originating function group manager decides the communication is: THEN the originating function group manager will: Not necessary Deny the request Necessary and is not a prohibited ex parte communication Approve the request Necessary and is a prohibited ex parte communication Approve the request and provide instructions for including the taxpayer in the communication
If an Appeals officer contacts an originating function employee and the information requested appears to be a prohibited ex parte communication, first discuss this concern with the Appeals officer and the group manager before providing any information.
If it is questionable whether a proposed communication would be prohibited under RRA 98, invite the taxpayer to participate in the communication. Also seek Counsel’s guidance.
See IRM 126.96.36.199, Curing Ex Parte Communication Breaches, if a breach occurs.
Certain alternative dispute resolution (ADR) programs, such as fast track settlement, involve the use of Appeals employees to facilitate settlement while the case is still in Examination’s jurisdiction. See Section 2.05(1) of Rev. Proc. 2012-18.
The prohibition against ex parte communications between Appeals employees and other IRS employees does not apply because Appeals employees are not acting in their traditional Appeals’ settlement role.
Consequently, Appeals employees may have ex parte communications with an originating function in connection with any Fast Track or similar ADR proceedings.
Employees can refer also to IRM 4.46.1 regarding pre-appeals conferences.
The originating function compiles the administrative file using established procedures, or as otherwise directed by the reviewer(s) assigned to the case. Generally, the administrative file the originating function sends to Appeals is not considered to be an ex parte communication.
Functions can’t send any documents, statements or comments to Appeals that are not normally generated in the ordinary course of developing the case if the reason to include it is to influence Appeals. This includes recommendations regarding what Appeals should consider or how Appeals should resolve the case.
Originating functions must share documents that contain any statements or comments that may be construed as prohibited ex parte communications with the taxpayer/representative at the time the administrative file is sent to Appeals.
See IRM 188.8.131.52.2, Administrative File, for further information and examples.
If the function prepares a rebuttal to a taxpayer's protest, it must be shared with the taxpayer/representative at the time the administrative file is sent to Appeals.
Use Letter 5072, Examiner's Rebuttal, as a cover for the rebuttal. EO employees should use Letter 5326, Rebuttal Letter - EO Examinations.
If an auditor is assigned a subsequent year audit of an open case in Appeals, the auditor should review the administrative file for past audit findings.
Do not discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the following with Appeals because it could appear to compromise Appeals independence:
Proposed adjustments in the year(s) that are in Appeals.
Proposed adjustments for any subsequent year under examination.
Appeals gives the originating function the opportunity to review and comment on significant new information or evidence presented by the taxpayer/representative during the Appeals proceedings. "Significant new information" is information of a nonroutine nature that, in Appeals’ judgement, may affect the originating function's findings or that may impact Appeals' independent evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the issues, including the litigating hazards for those issues.
The function or Appeals employee who keeps jurisdiction over the case must communicate and provide the results of the originating function’s review to the taxpayer/representative.
See IRM 184.108.40.206, Returning a Case to Examination - ATE, as well as IRM 8.4.4, Appeals Docketed Cases, Examination Assistance Requests for further information about cases returned to the originating function.
Refund claims filed during the Appeals process generally are referred to the originating function with a request for expedited review.
When Appeals refers these refund claims to the originating function, Appeals shouldn’t discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the issue, and thus, fall within the ministerial, administrative, or procedural matters exception to the definition of ex parte communications.
Appeals must timely notify the taxpayer/representative when they refer the refund claim to the originating function.
The function or Appeals employee who keeps jurisdiction over the case must communicate and provide the originating function’s review results to the taxpayer/representative.
An originating function’s dissenting memorandum to Appeals stating its disagreement with Appeals' settlement of a case is not a prohibited ex parte communication if all Appeals' actions on the case are finished before the memorandum is given to Appeals. See IRM 220.127.116.11.9, Disagreements to Appeals Determinations, for more information.
A post-settlement conference with Appeals and the originating function after Appeals closes the case is not an ex parte communication as long as discussion is limited to the issues in the closed case.
See IRM 18.104.22.168.1.4, Post-Settlement Conferences, for further information.