8.1.6 Disclosure, Security and Outside Contacts

Manual Transmittal

May 05, 2016

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 8.1.6, Appeals Function, Disclosure, Security and Outside Contacts.

Material Changes

(1) This revision includes the following significant changes:

IRM Reference Description of Change
IRM 8.1.6.1.2.1 Updated to clarify that the existence of an informant in a case should not be disclosed to a taxpayer or a representative, and what to do if asked.
IRM 8.1.6.3 (3) Updated the link to the Appeals Multi-Language Strategy web page.
IRM 8.1.6.3.1 (1) Updated to identify Lionbridge as the new IRS OPI vendor/contractor.
IRM 8.1.6.3.1 (2) Updated to remove references to the previous provider.
IRM 8.1.6.3.1 (3) Removed the reference to the obsolete training module. Added links to Lionbridge online references.
IRM 8.1.6.3.1 (4) Included the new toll-free phone numbers and the requirement for a nine-digit pin.
IRM 8.1.6.3.1 (5) Added link to point of contact information to use for help with your Lionbridge pin.
IRM 8.1.6.3.1 (6) Moved the list of tips for using OPI services from paragraph (3) to new paragraph (6).
IRM 8.1.6.3.1 (7) Renumbered paragraph (5) to paragraph (7) accordingly and updated the Step/Action table as follows:
  1. Step 1 - included the new toll-free phone numbers

  2. Step 2 - added the nine-digit OPI pin requirement

  3. Step 3 - included a list of prompts for 9 language options

  4. Step 4 - removed because it no longer applies

  5. Step 5 - renumbered to Step 4

  6. Step 6 - renumbered to Step 5

  7. Step 7 - removed because it no longer applies

IRM 8.1.6.3.1 (8) Renumbered paragraph (6) to paragraph (8) accordingly.

Effect on Other Documents

This IRM supersedes IRM 8.1.6 dated January 2, 2015.

Audience

Appeals

Effective Date

(05-05-2016)


John V. Cardone
Director, Policy, Quality and Case Support

Practice Before Appeals

  1. Appeals Technical Employees (ATEs) will verify the conference and practice requirements are met before disclosing confidential taxpayer information or allowing practice before Appeals. Disclosure rules and conference/practice requirements are identified in the following publications, regulation sections, IRM sections, and IRC section (not all inclusive):

    1. IRC 6103, Confidentiality and Disclosure of Returns and Return Information;

    2. IRM 11.3, Disclosure of Official Information;

    3. 26 CFR Sections 601.501 through 601.509, Conference and Practice Requirements (26 C.F.R. 601.501 through 26 C.F.R 601.509 and Publication 216);

    4. Treasury Department Circular 230, Regulations Governing Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service (31 C.F.R Subtitle A, Part 10);

    5. Witnesses at Conferences (Rev. Proc. 68-29, 1968-2 C.B., 913);

    6. IRC 21.3.7, Processing Third Party Authorizations onto the Centralized Authorization File (CAF); and

    7. Publication 947, Practice Before the IRS and Power of Attorney

    8. IRM 25.2.2.1(8), Overview: Authority and Policy.

  2. IRM 11.3.3.3, Distinction Between Disclosure to Designees and the Conference and Practice Requirements, compares the effect of a Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, with a Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative. These two forms are sometimes confused.

Disclosure of Information - Department of Justice

  1. Tax returns and related data are open to inspection by a United States Attorney or an attorney of the Department of Justice only if they file a proper written application. See IRM 11.3, Disclosure of Official Information to Federal Agencies for Administration of Non-Tax Criminal Laws. This procedure also applies to other Justice Department employees such as Federal Bureau of Investigation agents. An application is unnecessary in a tax case that has been referred to the Department of Justice for prosecution, suit or defense. An application signed by the Chief of the Organized Crime and Racketeering Section does not meet the requirements.

Disclosure of Information of a Confidential Nature

  1. Generally, confidential taxpayer information can only be disclosed upon a taxpayer's written authorization. Frequently encountered exceptions include:

    1. Representatives without a power of attorney or tax information authorization at a conference with the taxpayer; IRM 11.3.3.2.1, Requirements for Oral Authorization

    2. Estates, trusts, and receiverships may be represented by their trustees, receiver, guardians, executors, or regular full-time employees; see IRM 11.3.2, Disclosure to Persons with a Material Interest

      Note:

      For disabled individuals, minors, and their durable power of attorneys, see IRM 11.3.3.3(6), Distinction Between Disclosure to Designees and the Conference and Practice Requirements

      .

    3. Committees of Congress, Treasury personnel outside the Service, other Federal agencies and States; see IRM 11.3.4.3, Disclosure to Committees of Congress, IRM 11.3.22, Disclosure to Federal Officers and Employees for Tax Administration Purposes, and IRM 11.3.32, Disclosure to States for Tax Administration Purposes

    4. Witnesses at Conferences. See Rev. Proc. 68-29, 1968-2 C.B 913;

    5. Counsel of Record before the United States Tax Court; and

    6. Individuals who are not practitioners as described.

    7. When a whistleblower enters into an agreement pursuant to Treasury Regulation Section 301.6103(n)-2

Disclosure of Information - Informants
  1. The identity of informants or the existence of an informant in a case shall not be disclosed to a taxpayer or representative.

  2. If you are asked by a taxpayer or representative about the existence of an informant in a case, you are to respond that you can neither confirm nor deny the existence of an informant in any case.

  3. Before disclosing any information, either orally or in writing (for example, an Appeals Case Memorandum) that reveals the existence of an informant in a case, contact a Director in Appeals Tax Policy and Procedure.

Authorizations to Disclose Information of a Confidential Nature - Forms 2848 and 8821
  1. Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, or Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization, or other documents meeting the requirements of IRC 6103(c) may authorize a third party to receive or inspect confidential taxpayer information.

Representatives Qualified to Practice Before Appeals

  1. Qualifications to Practice Before the Internal Revenue Service are defined in Circular No. 230, Regulations Governing before the Internal Revenue Service, and 26 CFR 601.501–509 inclusive.

  2. Sections 10.7(c) and (d) of Circular 230 permit certain defined individuals to practice without enrollment in certain situations.

  3. Section 10.7(d) of Circular 230 permits the Commissioner, or his delegate, to authorize individuals otherwise ineligible to practice to represent another person in a particular matter.

    1. Students and law graduates working in a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC) or Student Tax Clinic Program (STCP) under the direct supervision of an individual authorized to practice before the IRS may represent taxpayers under a special appearance authorization issued by the Director, LITC Program Office. See Delegation Order 25-18 (Rev. 2) . The instructions to Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, require that such students and law graduates attach a copy of the special appearance authorization letter. Students and law graduates who have been authorized to practice may, subject to any limitations set forth in the letter from the Director of the LITC Program Office, represent taxpayers before any IRS office and are eligible to perform any and all acts listed on a properly executed Form 2848 .

Prohibitions of Federal and State Officials or Employees in Representing Taxpayers Before the Service
  1. If a Federal or State official or employee appears to be representing a taxpayer under circumstances indicating a possible violation of Circular 230's provisions, Service employees should advise such individual concerning the existence and content of Circular 230. See sections 10.3(h) and (i) of Circular 230.

Attorneys, Certified Public Accountants, Enrollees, Limited Practice, and Special Appearance Authorizations
  1. Taxpayers have the right to retain an authorized representative of their choice to represent them in their dealings with the IRS. Taxpayers have the right to seek assistance from a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic if they cannot afford representation, as described in Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer.

  2. Practice before the IRS includes all matters connected with a presentation to the IRS relating to a client's rights, privileges, or liabilities under laws or regulations administered by the IRS. Such presentations include preparing and filing necessary documents, corresponding and communicating with the IRS, and representing a client at conferences, hearings, and meetings. An individual who practices is a representative. In order for the IRS to recognize an individual as a representative, he or she must present evidence of representational authority.

  3. The following publications and forms are useful sources of information concerning practice before the IRS and powers of attorney.

    1. Treasury Department Circular No. 230, Regulations Governing before the Internal Revenue Service. Circular 230 is a pamphlet publication of 31 C.F.R. Part 10.

    2. Publication 216, Conference and Practice Requirements. This publication sets out the rules applicable to recognition as a representative, including the requirements for power of attorney. Publication 216 is a pamphlet publication of 26 C.F.R. 601.501 through 601.509.

    3. Rev. Proc. 2014-42 (for tax returns/claims for refund prepared and signed (or prepared if there is no signature space on the form) after December 31, 2015) and Rev. Proc. 81-88 (for tax returns/claims for refund prepared and signed on or before December 31, 2015), explains the limited practice rules applicable to tax return preparers who are not attorneys, certified public accountants, or enrolled agents.

    4. Rev. Proc. 68-29 explains the function of witnesses.

    5. Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative. The separately published Form 2848 instructions provide useful information concerning the validity of Form 2848.

    6. Form 8821, Tax Information Authorization.

    7. Form 56, Notice Concerning Fiduciary Relationship.

    8. Delegation Order 25-18 (Rev. 2).

  4. In the event an authorized representative is not evident from the case file, the ATE should make an effort to identify the authorized representative either by contacting the taxpayer, researching IDRS for a Centralized Authorization File (CAF) number via command code CFINK, or by any other means deemed appropriate. Special care should be taken to ensure that the rules of disclosure, as discussed in IRM 11.3, Disclosure of Official Information, are not violated when identifying an authorized representative.

Powers, Authorizations, Declarations - Form 2848
  1. While other statements can be used, Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, is convenient.

    1. The form has declarations as to current qualifications.

    2. The form authorizes disclosures of information of a confidential nature.

    3. The form provides optional authorizations to perform various other acts for the taxpayer.

Disposition of Powers of Attorney and Tax Information Authorization

  1. When you receive a new Form 8821 or Form 2848 during the consideration of a case by Appeals, you should make a copy and forward it directly to the appropriate campus function for processing.

    Note:

    Refer to Form 2848 and Form 8821 to determine "where to file" the forms, and the attached instructions on each form for what specific information is needed. Each campus will process the Power of Attorney for inclusion in their Power of Attorney files. For more information, see IRM 21.3.7.1.3, Processing Sites (CAF Function).

Third Party Contacts

  1. For information on third party contacts, see IRM 25.27.1, Third Party Contact Program as this IRM is intended to serve as a general reference for the Third Party Contact (TPC) program.

Third party contacts specific to Appeals

  1. When a third party contact is made, complete Form 12175, Third Party Contact Report Form and fax it to Philadelphia APS. Follow the instructions for completing the Form 12175. The form is available on ACDS and the Multimedia Publishing Web page.

    1. For Trust Fund Recovery Penalty investigations, a separate Form 12175 must be completed for the business and each potentially responsible person. Use MFT 55 for the potentially responsible person and the business tax periods that would be included in the assessment.

    2. Multiple contacts with the same third party, on different dates, require a separate Form 12175 for each contact.

    3. Multiple contacts with the same third party, on the same day by the same employee, requires only one Form 12175.

  2. Philadelphia APS maintains the third party database for Appeals. See IRM 8.20.6.33, Third Party Database Maintenance.

  3. IRC 7602(c)(2), Notice of specific contacts, requires the Service to provide a list of third party contacts when requested by the taxpayer. The ATE will be responsible for providing a list of third party contacts to the taxpayer. This differs from IRM 25.27.1.6, Area/Campus TPC Coordinators and Input Personnel in that the TPC and/or Input Personnel are responsible for the Form 12175 and Letter 3173, Third Party Contacts.

    1. The ATE who receives the request must immediately fax a request to Philadelphia APS, which includes the taxpayer's name, address, and Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN). The fax number is (215) 861-1380.

    2. Philadelphia APS will use IDRS Command code TPCOL to generate the list and return it to the ATE by fax or email.

    3. The ATE will prepare Letter 3173 (address per the taxpayer or Master File) to transmit the third party contacts to the taxpayer within two business days of the request. Letter 3173 must include a list of third party contacts made after January 18, 1999, or made since the taxpayer received the latest periodic report of contacts.

      Note:

      ATE should not accept a blanket request for future third party contacts. Taxpayers must submit a separate request for each list of their third party contacts

      .

Multilingual Services

  1. Executive Order 13166, Improving Access to Services for Persons with Limited English Proficiency, requires all federal agencies to:

    1. Examine the services they provide,

    2. Identify needs for services to those with limited English proficiency (LEP), and

    3. Develop and implement a system that ensures meaningful access to necessary services for LEP persons

  2. Guidelines and procedures for implementing the requirements of Executive Order 13166 are in IRM 22.31.1, IRS Language Services.

  3. Other useful information is available on the .Appeals Multi-Language Strategy web page

Over-the-Phone Interpreters (OPI)

  1. Effective August 1, 2015, the IRS transitioned to Lionbridge, to provide over-the-phone interpreter (OPI) service. The Lionbridge OPI service provides interpretation assistance that helps employees talk with taxpayers who have limited proficiency with the English language and offers a quick, easy and efficient way to communicate with taxpayers through translators who speak any of more than 200 different languages. The Lionbridge OPI service is free to taxpayers and available 24 hours per day to all Appeals employees who have contact with taxpayers.

  2. Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) 52.224-2, Privacy Act, requires the OPI vendor/contractor to "Comply with the Privacy Act of 1974 (the Act) and the agency rules and regulations issued under the Act." All employees of the OPI vendor/contractor are bound under the performance of the contract with IRS to comply with and assume responsibilities under the Disclosure of Information safeguards.

  3. The following resources are available to assist you with using the Lionbridge (OPI) service:

    • Lionbridge Pocket Guide

    • Lionbridge Telephonic User Guide

  4. You will need the following pieces of information to access the OPI service:

    • Toll-free phone number 888-563-1155 (or toll-free back up phone number 888-563-3922)

    • Your nine-digit pin # which is comprised of the 4 digit telephonic ID for your site followed by your unique 5 digit user pin

  5. If you have misplaced your Lionbridge pin or need to request a new Lionbridge pin, visit the Appeals Multi-Language Strategy web page for the point of contact information.

  6. The list below provides tips for using OPI services:

    • Speak in “first person” (as though you’re talking directly to the taxpayer)

    • Use short sentences

    • Ask only one question at a time

    • "Word for word" interpretation is often limited

    • Avoid using acronyms

  7. The following table contains the steps for using the OPI service:

    Step Action
    1 Dial 1-888-563-1155 (888-563-3922 is the back up phone number)
    2 At the prompt, enter your unique nine-digit OPI PIN:

    Example:

    5150-22178

    3 At the prompt, enter the designated language code digit:
    • 1 for Spanish

    • 2 for Creole

    • 3 for Mandarin

    • 4 for Korean

    • 5 for Vietnamese

    • 6 for Somali

    • 7 for Russian

    • 8 for French

    • 9 for Arabic

    • 0 for any other language needs or concerns (see Note below)

    Note:

    If you don’t know the name of the language, stay on the line and an OPI representative will help you.

    4 An OPI services representative will come on the line and ask for your Standard Employer Identifier (SEID) (remember to speak your SEID slowly and clearly)
    5
    1. Brief the interpreter on the general purpose of the call.

      Example:

      "This will be my first discussion with the taxpayer, so I want to make sure she understands the Appeals process and the general elements of innocent spouse relief."

    2. Summarize what you wish to accomplish.

      Example:

      "I want to make sure I understand the taxpayer's concerns and I will also explain the verification items I need from her."

    3. Give the interpreter any special instructions.

      Example:

      "I am going to be talking about payment options and specifically a Direct Debit Installment Agreement, through which the taxpayer's monthly payments are drawn directly from his bank account."

  8. Use Form 14162, OPI Service Feedback, to provide feedback or report any problems encountered while using the OPI service. The form has a self-emailing feature that submits it directly to *W&I M&P OPI.