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Link & Learn Taxes – Automated Certification Tracking

Privacy Impact Assessment – Link & Learn Taxes Automated Certification Tracking

LLT System Overview

Provide a simple but complete description of your system, explaining the purpose and what it does.  Please write it to ensure that someone not familiar with it will understand.  When using acronyms, spell them out the first time they are used. 

Link & Learn Taxes is a fully leveraged e-learning course developed by Stakeholder Partnerships, Education and Communication (SPEC) for the IRS Volunteer Program.  The course, intended as a self learning vehicle for IRS Partners and Volunteers worldwide, includes five modules: Basic, Wage Earner, Pension Earner and Military tax law, forms and filing procedures.  Each of these modules has a certification instrument (test), which the user/volunteer takes to demonstrate their proficiency in providing tax return preparation assistance to fellow taxpayers. 

In order to facilitate transmission of the volunteer’s certification to assist customers, an electronic delivery option has been developed for the application.  At the user/volunteer’s discretion, the individual certification on any module can be forwarded via e-mail directly to SPEC Headquarters.  The e-mail will be comprised of a pre-set form requesting certain unclassified identifying information (detailed in Question 1 below) from the user/volunteer.  The e-mail form will be delivered to an IRS managed account and downloaded to an Access database. 

The volunteer certification received from the individual through the Link & Learn Taxes application will provide the ability for the SPEC organization to demonstrate the certification of volunteers associated with any volunteer or coalition site.  The information will be held for a single filing season and will comprise a Registry of Certified Volunteers.  

System of Records Number(s)

Treasury/IRS 34.037 – Audit Trail
Treasury/IRS 38.001 - E-Learning

Data in the System

1. Describe the information (data elements and fields) available in the system in the following categories:

A. Taxpayer
B. Employee
C. Audit Trail Information (including employee log-in info)
D. Other (Describe)

Taxpayer - None
Employee - None

Audit Trail - System is web based accessible via the internet at

Other -  (Volunteer)
Data Elements include:
Affiliated Volunteer Organization
E-mail Address
Alternative Contact Information like mailing address and telephone number

Confirmation of Volunteer Certification will be generated by the e-learning modules in the Link & Learn Taxes internet application

2. Describe/identify which data elements are obtained from files, databases, individuals, or any other sources.

B. Taxpayer
C. Employee
D. Other Federal Agencies (List agency)
E. State and Local Agencies (List agency)
F. Other third party sources (Describe)

IRS - None
Taxpayer - None
Employee - None
Other Federal Agencies - None
State and Local Agencies - None
Other third party sources - None

All information will be obtained directly from the user/volunteer on a voluntary basis.  No files, databases or other sources will be used.

3.  Is each data item required for the business purpose of the system?  Explain.

Yes.  To verify the certification of the volunteer a combination of the data elements listed above will be used to identify the volunteer.

4. How will each data item be verified for accuracy, timeliness, and completeness?

Voluntary submission only.   Accuracy is verified by the volunteer.

5. Is there another source for the data?  Explain how that source is or is not used.

Volunteers who are certified using a paper based testing instrument will have the data accumulated by the affiliated volunteer organization and a listing will be provided to the SPEC Territory office and forwarded as necessary.

6. Generally, how will data be retrieved by the user? 

The certification registry will be maintained by SPEC National Office.  Relevant excerpts will be shared with the Area or Territory Offices to validate volunteer status.

7. Is the data retrievable by a personal identifier such as name, SSN, or other unique identifier? 

A combination of identifiers – name, zip code, email address and volunteer organization.

Access to the Data

8. Who will have access to the data in the system (Users, Managers, System Administrators, Developers, Others)?

SPEC HQS staff (Field Ops, Communications and Education & Product Development) for the entire database.  Area & Territory Office staff would be given an extract of volunteers by geographic region.

9. How is access to the data by a user determined and by whom? 

The Director, SPEC authorizes the Chief, Education & Product Development to collect and retain the information.  The Chief, E&PD will provide a report to Field Operations of the all Certified Volunteers.  The report will be organized by Area and Territory.  Each Territory will receive a report of the volunteers in their Territory.  The Chief, SPEC Communications will provide tax law updates and volunteer procedural information to volunteers electronically using e-mail addresses in the registry.  Individual volunteer application users will not have access to this data.

10. Do other IRS systems provide, receive, or share data in the system?  If YES, list the system(s) and describe which data is shared.  If NO, continue to Question 12.  NO.

11. Have the IRS systems described in Item 10 received an approved Security Certification and Privacy Impact Assessment?  Not Applicable.

12.  Will other agencies provide, receive, or share data in any form with this system?  NO.

Administrative Controls of Data

13.  What are the procedures for eliminating the data at the end of the retention period?

The registry would be valid for a single tax year.  The information contained in all the fields would be deleted at the beginning of the volunteer training season (October 15) and reset for each new year.

14.  Will this system use technology in a new way?  If "YES" describe.
If "NO" go to Question 15.

15.  Will this system be used to identify or locate individuals or groups?  If so, describe the business purpose for this capability.

Yes.  To increase quality in the Volunteer Return Preparation Program by validating certification and providing a conduit for post-training information and communication with volunteers.

16. Will this system provide the capability to monitor individuals or groups? If yes, describe the business purpose for this capability and the controls established to prevent unauthorized monitoring.  NO.  Informational only.

17. Can use of the system allow IRS to treat taxpayers, employees, or others, differently?  Explain.  NO.

18.  Does the system ensure "due process" by allowing affected parties to respond to any negative determination, prior to final action?  Not applicable.

19.  If the system is web-based, does it use persistent cookies or other tracking devices to identify web visitors?

There are no cookies or other tracking devices employed by this feature.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 18-Aug-2012