(a) Separate Accounting for Taxpayer Service Functions. The Internal Revenue Service should, on a basis consistent from year to year, compile data on all personnel and funds allocated to and utilized in the performance of functions by its Taxpayer Service Division. Such data should be broken down, perhaps on the basis of statistical sampling, for each of the major types of taxpayer service provided, with attention to at least the following functions:
(1) Responding to individual inquiries and requests for assistance regarding administrative and operating procedures of the Service which have an impact on particular taxpayers;
(2) Answering individual inquiries for tax law advice and providing assistance in tax return preparation; and
(3) General education of members of the public about the tax laws, their tax-return-filing and tax-payment responsibilities, and the administrative and operating procedures of the Service.
(b) Taxpayer Services. The Internal Revenue Service should consider establishing a procedure whereby taxpayer inquiries and requests for assistance can be promptly screened and referred for response to Service personnel selected on the basis of their competence and authority to respond to particular categories of inquiry or assistance. Such a screening and referral system might be facilitated by:
(1) Developing statistical profiles of the categories of inquiry and requests for assistance that are most frequently made;
(2) Specifically training and assigning some personnel to review taxpayer inquiries and requests for assistance and to make referral of them to those Service personnel whose competence and authority will assure prompt and effective responses;
(3) Specifically training some personnel as specialists in the administrative and operating procedures of the Internal Revenue Service, with emphasis on the operation of Service Centers, to whom referral of inquiries and requests for assistance will be made;
(4) Continuing to make available experienced and knowledgeable Audit Division personnel to whom referrals of inquiries and requests for assistance may be made, especially during tax-return-filing season; and
(5) Continuing to maintain high quality staffing of taxpayer contact units in the Service Centers until some workable alternative thereto is developed.
(c) Tax Law Advice to Taxpayers. The Internal Revenue Service should adopt procedures designed to assure that any taxpayer who inquires for tax law advice from any employee of the IRS Taxpayer Service Division will be informed that: (1) the answer to his inquiry is based on the facts understood by the employee and that such understanding may not be identical to, nor as comprehensive as, the taxpayer’s; (2) the Service is not bound by the advice given by the employee and may assert a different position at some later date, for example, if the taxpayer’s return is audited; (3) the advice given by the employee is based on the Service’s interpretation of the tax laws and, if such be the case with respect to a particular inquiry, that there is authority for a different interpretation as to which the taxpayer should seek his own tax law advice; and (4) the taxpayer should preserve any records pertaining to the subject matter of the inquiry for at least three years following the time fixed by law for filing the tax return to which the inquiry pertains. The substance of the foregoing information should be incorporated into all written materials issued by the Service describing the availability of taxpayer services or responding to inquiries for tax law advice. The substance of such information also should be mentioned in oral responses to inquiries for tax law advice, to the degree appropriate to the nature and circumstances of the contact.
(d) (1) Taxpayer Complaint Response Procedures. The Internal Revenue Service should establish regular procedures whereby any taxpayer can obtain a prompt and impartial response to any legitimate complaint about the conduct of any individual IRS employee. These complaint response procedures should be organized and operated so as to provide for the receipt and processing of such complaints by Service personnel who have thorough familiarity with the authority, organization, and administrative and operating procedures of the Service.
(2) The recommended complaint response procedures should be well publicized and easily accessible to taxpayers through all IRS personnel, however organized and wherever situated, whose responsibilities include the provision of assistance, advice, or other services to taxpayers (for example, Taxpayer Service Representatives and personnel of Service Center Taxpayer Contact Units).
(3) The recommended complaint response procedures should be designed and operated so as to provide information that will enable the line management of the Service systematically to:
(i) Identify the causes of all legitimate complaints about the conduct of individual IRS employees;
(ii) Assess the effectiveness of the complaint response procedures from the standpoint of taxpayers; and
(iii) Determine what changes, consistent with the Service’s duty to administer the internal revenue laws, may be necessary in the training, supervision, or assignment of Service personnel to eliminate causes of legitimate complaints about the conduct of individual IRS employees.
41 FR 3986 (January 27, 1976)
4 ACUS 44