- 4.90.2 Customer Assistance
- 188.8.131.52 Overview
- 184.108.40.206 Customer Assistance
- 220.127.116.11.1 Customer Assistance Resources
- 18.104.22.168.1.1 TE/GE Customer Account Services
- 22.214.171.124.1.2 Notices
- 126.96.36.199.1.3 E-filing questions
- 188.8.131.52.1.4 Taxpayer Advocate Service
- 184.108.40.206.1.5 TE/GE Counsel Advice
- 220.127.116.11.2 Case File Establishment
- 18.104.22.168.3 Case File Criteria
- 22.214.171.124.4 Customer Assistance Inventory Control Process
- 126.96.36.199.5 Case File Documentation
- 188.8.131.52.6 Case File Closing Procedures
- 184.108.40.206.7 Changing Case Type
- 220.127.116.11.8 Processing Form 3870
- 18.104.22.168.8.1 Preparation of Form 3870
- 22.214.171.124.8.2 Expedited Form 3870 processing
- 126.96.36.199.8.3 Follow-up
- 188.8.131.52.9 Delinquent Returns
- 184.108.40.206.10 Closing Agreements
Part 4. Examining Process
Chapter 90. Federal, State and Local Governments (FSLG)
Section 2. Customer Assistance
June 10, 2014
(1) This transmits revised IRM 4.90.2, Federal, State and Local Governments, Customer Assistance.
(1) 220.127.116.11.1.3, E-filing questions, has been updated and revised.
(2) In 18.104.22.168, Customer Assistance, references to "government affirmation letter" changed to reflect new title "governmental information letter" .
(3) Procedures for referrals to Taxpayer Advocate clarified and updated.
(4) Minor editorial corrections made as needed.
Paul A. Marmolejo
Director, Federal State and Local Governments
This IRM 4.90.2, Customer Assistance, provides general guidance for FSLG Specialists conducting customer assistance.
Customer assistance is defined as voluntary one-on-one contact with a customer to resolve a tax issue. The objective of this type of individualized help is to increase voluntary compliance by assisting our customers in understanding, implementing and fulfilling their responsibilities with respect to employment tax and information reporting requirements. The customer assistance may be delivered by phone, correspondence and/or face-to-face contact, and is generally initiated by the customer.
The Specialist should normally respond to a request for customer assistance within 5 business days.
Various resources are available to assist with various questions from customers. Specialists may need to act as a liaison with the customer to put them in touch with the area that can provide the best service.
After the Specialist determines the nature of the customer's question, he or she may take the following actions:
Nature of problem Possible avenue for resolution Question about technical issue involving filing return or paying FICA taxes Research FSLG sources or technical sites and provide response Question involving 403(b)/457 employee retirement plan Research FSLG sources; if necessary, contact 403(b)/457 Coordinator in the area Question involving notice Advise customer to call number provided on the notice Customer responded to a notice but the situation has not been resolved, or the customer indicates that the issue is causing a hardship Advise customer to call number provided on the notice, or refer customer to Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS); see IRM 22.214.171.124.1.4, Taxpayer Advocate Service. Question involving a collection issue Advise customer to call TE/GE account services at 877-829-5500.
Research IDRS to determine collection status.
Consider referring customer to Area Collection Office or to a local walk-in office, and provide the taxpayer with the telephone number of that office.
Refer customer to TAS; see IRM 126.96.36.199.1.4, Taxpayer Advocate Service.
Customer requests letter affirming government status or tax deductibility of contributions Refer customer to the "Governmental Information Letter" page on the website. Advise the customer to contact TE/GE Customer Account Services Customer needs to change address Tell customer to contact TE/GE Customer Account Services at 877-829-5500. Question involving e-filing issues See www.irs.gov/efile; for Forms W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, contact SSA at www.ssa.gov/employer/how.htm Question involving the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS) Refer to IRS Publication 966, or call toll-free 800-945-8400 or 800-555-4477, or visit www.eftps.gov
The TE/GE Customer Account Services provides assistance to customers who:
Need a governmental information letter issued
Request to speak to a TE/GE agent in another office
Need miscellaneous services, such as updating the entity module, ordering forms and publications, etc.
Customer Account Services will issue a governmental information letter to an organization. This letter describes the criteria for government entity exemption from Federal income tax, and cites applicable Internal Revenue Code sections pertaining to deductible contributions and income exclusion. It is not a ruling. This letter can normally be generated during the course of the telephone contact, and is based primarily on information such as the employment code and name of the entity.
Additional information about government information letters is available on the FSLG website, http://www.irs.gov/Government-Entities/Federal,-State-&-Local-Governments/Governmental-Information-Letter.
Additional information about the TE/GE call site operations and procedures can be found in IRM 21.3.8, Tax Exempt/Government Entities (TEGE) Customer Account Services (CAS) Telephone Operations.
Employees should use customer inquiries as an opportunity to provide education about taxpayer rights and responsibilities. Make sure to fully explain the taxpayer's options and answer any questions the taxpayers have about their rights in dealing with the IRS.
If a customer received a notice from the Service, the Specialist should advise the customer that it is necessary to contact the number listed on the notice for resolution.
If the customer is having difficulty resolving the notice situation, then the Specialist should consider whether the situation meets Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) criteria. IRM 13.1.7, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Case Criteria, explains criteria for referral to TAS. If you are able to take action to resolve the problem within 24 hours of the taxpayer's call, the inquiry does not necessarily need to be referred to TAS. See IRM 188.8.131.52, Same Day Resolution by Operations,for guidance on same-day resolution cases.
Sometimes customer inquiries involve technical requirements regarding preparation and electronic filing of information returns. Customers with Form W-2 e-filing questions should be referred to the SSA website http://www.ssa.gov/employer/. When required, all other information returns are filed through the IRS Filing Information Returns Electronically (FIRE) system. The customer can be referred to the FIRE website http://www.irs.gov/Tax-Professionals/e-File-Providers-&-Partners/Filing-Information-Returns-Electronically-(FIRE) for further information and a list of publications on this topic.
184.108.40.206.3.3 provides a list of Electronic Tax Administration publications.
If, during a customer contact, you determine that:
There may be a hardship situation as defined in IRM 13.1.7, Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) Case Criteria,
The customer insists on being referred to the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS), or
The contact meets TAS criteria (provided in IRM 13.1.7), and
you cannot resolve the issue the same day, the Specialist should prepare and forward Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Service Assistance, to the Local Taxpayer Advocate (see IRM 13,Taxpayer Advocate Service).
An FSLG Specialist may answer questions by citing Code sections, regulations, published guidance (i.e. revenue rulings, revenue procedures, etc.) and providing publications. TE/GE Counsel may be able to provide some direction to answering a technical question. However, FSLG does not have jurisdiction or authority to issue rulings. FSLG Specialists will not issue opinions.
If an FSLG Specialist is asked a question that cannot be answered by providing a publication or by citing one of the sources listed above, including consultation with TE/GE Counsel, then the Specialist may suggest to the taxpayer making a private letter ruling request or seeking professional legal advice.
A significant amount of FSLG work consists of one-on-one contacts with customers to resolve complex tax reporting or payment issues. As with an examination case file, Specialists will need to establish customer assistance case files in certain situations to document the work that was performed for the customer.
Complete case documentation of assistance provided will provide a historical record of issues resolved. Frequently, sensitive or material issues are resolved through customer assistance, and information in the case file may be needed to address any questions raised by the office of Compliance and Program Management (CPM) or by third parties.
Documentation of assistance provided will also aid in the establishment of a historical record of issues addressed and identification of significant trends, issues and problems.
If there is a collection issue on a customer assistance case, the Specialist may consider contacting the local Small Business/Self-Employed (SB/SE) Compliance Group and seek the assistance of a Revenue Officer.
All Customer Assistance case files are input to the Reporting Compliance Case Management System (RCCMS) and they may involve any of the following:
In-depth research and/or third party contacts
Assistance/Guidance from TE/GE Counsel
Issuance of written guidance other than published reference material (e.g. Publications, Revenue Rulings, or court cases, etc.)
Managerial or FSLG Director involvement
Significant impact on a market segment
Requests for adjustments to an account (Form 3870, Request for Adjustment).
Request for significant changes to entity information (e.g. Form 2363, Master File Entity Change, to add or delete filing requirements)
A case file should not be created for contacts of a routine nature (i.e., phone calls, problems or questions resolved with minimal contact).
The following table gives examples of situations when a case file is or is not warranted:
Information Action A Specialist receives a phone call from a local FSLG customer regarding a deposit penalty. After reviewing the issue with the customer and securing additional documentation, the Specialist recommends a penalty abatement and prepares an adjustment using Form 3870, Request for Adjustment. A case file should be established. A complete Form 3870 and the required workpapers are included. A Specialist receives a phone call from a city regarding a non-filer notice. The Specialist determines that the organization is filing its Form 941, Employer's QUARTERLY Federal Tax Return, through a common paymaster. The Specialist receives a letter signed by the mayor that provides a written statement that the organization is not required to file a Form 941. The Specialist completes a Form 2363 Master File Entity Change, to delete the Form 941 filing requirement. A case file should be established. Form 2363 and the required workpapers are included. A Specialist receives multiple questions from a government entity. The Specialist meets with several employees of the government entity and provides multiple publications. A case file is not necessary.
Customer Assistance case inventory will be controlled on RCCMS. On RCCMS, the Specialist will request establishment using source code 73, type Taxpayer Assistance Post Filing and activity code 108 for the period(s) addressed.
On WebETS, the Specialist will enter each customer assistance case name separately. Time is charged to Activity Code 108, project code 0999 - Taxpayer Assistance Post Filing, per Document 11308 - GE Computer Systems Code Booklet.
Most Customer Assistance case files will be 100% electronic but some may require paper case files. The minimum documentation (workpapers) that should be included in the case file is as follows:
Form 3198-A, TE/GE Special Handling Notice, placed on the front of any paper case folder and should be notated as a closed customer assistance case
Loose on top (inside folder), any forms that need to be processed such as: Form 3870, Request for Adjustment; Form 5666, TE/GE Referral/Information Report, to recommend future follow-up action; Form 2363, Master File Entity Change, etc.
Form 4318–A, Continuation of Examination Workpapers, or Form 5773, TE/GE Workpaper Continuation Sheet, (used as the Workpaper Lead Sheet) including a description of issue(s) addressed and resolved; procedures, conclusions and actions taken; and future follow-up action required
Form 9984, Examining Officer’s Activity Record, or Form 5464, Case Chronology Record, including the name and group number of the Specialist and customer contact information
File copies of written guidance provided or guidance received from TE/GE Counsel
Additional information and documentation that supports actions taken
The Specialist will close the case file to the Field Manager after the issue has been resolved. The Field Manager (or MA) will close the case on RCCMS using Disposal Code 801 and transmit the file to CPM using a Form 3210, Document Transmittal.
A customer assistance case cannot be converted into a compliance check or an examination. If the Specialist believes that a compliance check or examination is needed to improve compliance, or recommends follow-up action, then the Specialist should refer the case to CPM by preparing Form 5666, TE/GE Referral/Information Report, indicating that additional compliance action is warranted. The Specialist should attach any supporting documentation that provides additional details about potential non-compliance. Form 5666 should be included in the closed customer assistance case file. IRM 220.127.116.11.5, Case File Documentation.
If resolving the customer's situation involves making an adjustment to an account, the Specialist should prepare a Form 3870, Request for Adjustment, attach supporting documentation, and place it in the closed customer assistance case file.
The Specialist should:
Complete items 1-14 (12 only if necessary)
Complete the explanation portion to explain the reason for adjustment
Attach supporting documentation
Place form in the closed customer assistance case file
Highlight for Field Manager's signature
If the reason for preparation of Form 3870 is the abatement of civil information return penalties asserted under MFT 13, then Form 8278, Assessment and Abatement of Miscellaneous Civil Penalties, should be included. Instructions for completion of Form 8278 are included on the back of the form.
There may be circumstances when expedited processing of Form 3870 is required. In these situations, the Specialist should:
Complete Form 3870 following the steps listed in IRM 18.104.22.168.8.1, Preparation of Form 3870.
Make a copy of Form 3870 and place in the case file. Write "Copy" in red on the top margin to avoid duplicate processing.
Expedite Form 3870 requests should be sent via fax or email to the CPM AIMS coordinator for immediate attention.
Determine whether suspension of notice issuance is necessary. If so, a request should be submitted with Field Manager approval to CPM. CPM will input STAUP on tax module.
Document action taken within case history.
Hold customer assistance case file in open status and periodically review tax module for adjustments.
Close customer assistance case file following normal closing procedures when the Form 3870 adjustments are present on the tax module.
The processing of Forms 3870 should be completed within 30 days from the date the case is closed from the group. If the adjustment has not been completed within that time frame, the Specialist should contact the CPM AIMS-Coordinator to determine the reasons for the delay in processing and what steps are necessary to continue processing.
If delinquent returns are secured during a customer assistance contact, then the returns should be sent directly to the appropriate location for processing. See IRM 22.214.171.124.1.1, Processing Delinquent Employment Tax Returns (No TC 150), for the appropriate addresses. The Specialist may assist the customer by explaining reasonable cause criteria . If a copy of the return is placed in the case file, the fact that the return is a copy should be clearly indicated on the upper portion of the return to prevent a duplicate filing.