Part 4. Examining Process
Chapter 90. Federal, State and Local Governments (FSLG)
Section 14. Counsel Contact and Technical Guidance
July 17, 2015
(1) This transmits revised IRM 4.90.14, Federal State and Local Governments, Counsel Contact and Technical Guidance.
(1) Minor editorial changes as needed.
(2) Outdated reference removed from 18.104.22.168 (3).
(3) Replaced “Area Counsel” with “TE/GE Division Counsel” throughout.
(4) Revised this section to comply with the Plain Writing Act of 2010.
Federal State and Local Governments
Director, Federal State and Local Governments
Tax Exempt and Government Entities
This section provides guidance and instruction on requesting informal and formal guidance on technical issues from Chief Counsel.
In general, FSLG field groups may contact the local TE/GE Division Counsel office for general questions and technical issues.
Directions in this manual section are to specialists, unless otherwise indicated.
TEGE Division Counsel is available to provide oral and written legal guidance on technical and procedural issues and questions arising from FSLG compliance activities.
You and your manager may contact TE/GE Division Counsel when needing:
Technical assistance with a local issue
Help with case development
Interpretation of the law
Research and discuss the issue(s) with your manager before requesting formal written advice from Counsel.
When requesting formal written guidance from TE/GE Division Counsel, first prepare a memo outlining the facts of the case, the specific issues and questions. Your manager reviews and approves your written request and forwards it to the Field Operations Manager for final review and approval. If approved, the Field Operations Manager instructs your manager to forward the request to the TE/GE Division Counsel office and send a copy of the request to the Compliance & Program Management (CPM) Counsel Liaison.
Generally, TE/GE Division Counsel responds in writing within 45 days of receiving your request. The response time can be extended if the facts require further development or other circumstances prevent them from responding in 45 days.
If TE/GE Division Counsel elevates your request directly to TE/GE Associate Chief Counsel, then the CPM Counsel Liaison coordinates with Counsel on the status of any pending written guidance for the elevated issue.
The CPM Counsel Liaison maintains a quarterly updated list of written requests for guidance.
In general, when TE/GE Division Counsel issues written advice in the form of an advisory memo:
It’s usually case specific,
Can't be cited, and
Shouldn't be interpreted as a statement of law applicable to other cases.
Don't distribute a TE/GE Division Counsel advisory memo to government entities and/or practitioners. However, you may share its conclusions with the specific taxpayer as appropriate. If you send these conclusions to the taxpayer, include a disclosure statement indicating the letter is not an official opinion of the IRS.
CPM is the clearinghouse for issues requiring:
A written advisory memo from TE/GE Division Counsel
Formal and published guidance from Counsel
When requesting TE/GE Division Counsel’s written guidance, forward a copy of your request to the CPM Counsel Liaison.
CPM catalogs these technical issues and serves as a clearinghouse for all FSLG issues under consideration for written guidance.
The CPM Counsel Liaison provides you and your manager with a quarterly updated list of pending and resolved issues.
CPM provides a copy of written responses they receive from TE/GE Division Counsel for the FSLG Director and the FSLG Field Operations Manager’s read files.
When similar issues are under development in multiple TE/GE Division Counsel offices, CPM coordinates the issues and provides procedural guidance, as needed. This process avoids duplication of effort and promotes consistency and efficient use of time when resolving FSLG technical issues and questions.
Chief Counsel provides published written guidance and other legal advice in various forms. This can include any of the following:
Generally, FSLG Headquarters office coordinates all published guidance requests.
Generally, don't contact TE/GE Associate Chief Counsel directly on specific cases, to avoid any breach of ex parte rules; coordinate with FSLG Headquarters if you need to contact TE/GE Associate Chief Counsel on specific cases.
If a taxpayer requests written technical advice during your audit, follow current procedures in the annual revenue procedure (always the second revenue procedure of each year). The CPM Counsel Liaison adds this issue to their list. You and your manager must periodically update the CPM Counsel Liaison, the FSLG Field Operations Manager, and the FSLG Director.
Generally, Chief Counsel issues legal advice within 90 days of the request for assistance. However, the response time can be extended if further case development is required or other circumstances exist that prevent them from responding in 90 days.
If a taxpayer requests a Private Letter Ruling (PLR), refer them to the appropriate annual revenue procedure (always the first revenue procedure for each year) and instruct them to follow the appropriate procedures. Also advise CPM of the PLR request.
If you uncover a national impact issue during outreach or other compliance activities that warrants Chief Counsel involvement, contact the CPM Counsel Liaison to discuss the issue.
The CPM Counsel Liaison coordinates all national impact issues with Chief Counsel.
If informal guidance is appropriate, CPM follows-up this response with Chief Counsel. If needing written guidance, CPM consults with Chief Counsel to:
Determine the type of written guidance.
Prepare the guidance request.