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Internal IRS guidelines on requests for field service advice and technical advice.

Recent internal IRS guidelines explain to IRS field personnel the criteria for requesting field service advice (FSA) and technical advice (TA) from the IRS National Office (CCDM-Notice-(30)-000-273). The internal guidelines are intended to limit the use of FSAs and clarify that FSAs will not be issued with respect to novel or complex issues for which no established IRS position exists.

The guidelines state that the purpose of a TA is to establish the Service's position on a specific issue in a specific case. Once a TA is issued, it acts as a final determination of IRS position and, as such, revenue agents are required to follow it. In contrast, the purpose of an FSA is to apply the preexisting IRS position to the facts in a particular case. An FSA does not act as a final determination; thus, a revenue agent need not follow it if the taxpayer produces more compelling arguments in support of a contrary position.

The decision on whether to request an FSA or TA by IRS field personnel generally depends on whether the requester is seeking a final determination as to the Service's position on a particular issue or is merely attempting to obtain assistance in developing a case to make his own determination. To further aid field personnel in determining the appropriate procedure in a given case, the guidelines identify three factors to be considered:

1. If the issue is ripe for final resolution (i.e., the facts are fully developed), generally a TA request is appropriate. However, as indicated in the third factor, if the IRS position has already been established on an issue ripe for final resolution, an FSA request may be more appropriate.

2. If the requester is seeking tactical or strategic assistance, generally the FSA procedure should be used. Examples of tactical or strategic assistance include advice on drafting or issuing information document requests (IDRs), summonses, advice on factual development, and advice on whether a particular case is a good test case for litigation.

3. If the issue is novel or complex and the IRS position has not been previously established, generally a TA request is appropriate. In contrast, if the Service's position has been previously established, an FSA may be appropriate to assist the field personnel in applying settled principles of law to the facts of a particular case.

The guidelines also state that an IRS field office may, at its discretion, involve the taxpayer in the FSA process by informing the taxpayer of the FSA request and offering the taxpayer an opportunity to comment on relevant facts or law. Moreover, while field personnel should not give a taxpayer a copy of an FSA, the guidelines state that such personnel have an obligation to communicate to the taxpayer the rationale for any determinations made in resolving the case, which typically will involve a discussion of any legal analysis contained in the FSA.
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Article Details
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Author:Ely, Mark
Publication:The Tax Adviser
Article Type:Brief Article
Date:Oct 1, 1996
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