An IRS memorandum dated October 16, 2020, rescinded and replaced Interim Guidance memorandum SBSE 05-1020-0080.
Taxpayer Contact – Face-to-face public contact/field activities will only occur in exceptional cases, will not be routine or regularly occurring activities, and will be voluntary on the part of the IRS employee. Revenue Officers (ROs) may conduct face-to- face contacts and other field activities with the taxpayer, the taxpayer’s authorized representative or other members of the public on a case-by-case basis, and only when authorized. Face-to-face contacts and field activities require Territory Manager approval and are subject to the guidelines in the Deputy Commissioner memo dated July 6, 2020. Face-to-face field contact should only be authorized where:
- there are no effective alternatives to face-to-face contact, and the failure to act poses a risk of permanent loss to the government, such as the expiration of a statute, assets being placed permanently beyond government reach, or continued pyramiding of employment tax liabilities; or
- the taxpayer or representative has requested face-to-face contact and the RO and manager agree that face-to-face contact would advance the progress of the case.
In all instances of public contact, employees are expected to wear masks or other face coverings, practice social distancing, and adhere to CDC guidelines (handwashing, etc.) to guard against possible exposure to or spread of COVID-19. Where possible, consider conducting the meeting with the taxpayer in an IRS facility (such as Taxpayer Assistance Centers) equipped with plexiglass barriers.
Initial Contact – In most cases, effective initial contact requires the RO to attempt to make actual contact with the taxpayer or taxpayer’s representative in the field per IRM 5.1.10 Field Collecting Procedures, Taxpayer Contacts. This requirement continues to be waived. However, during the pandemic, soft contact procedures, which include the use of Letter 725, Meeting Scheduled with Taxpayer, and telephonic interviews, will be utilized in lieu of face-to-face interviews except for those cases that have exigent circumstances (i.e. jeopardy, statute issues, egregious employment tax cases, etc.) and other priority field work in Field Collection Operations.
Field Calls Prior to Certain Offer in Compromise Acceptances – The requirement for a field call to observe assets prior to the final recommendation as to acceptance of an Offer in Compromise in accordance with IRM 126.96.36.199.(10) is waived until January 31, 2021.
Notice of Federal Tax Lien Procedures – Effective October 1, 2020, Field Collection, Specialty Collection Field Offer in Compromise, and Specialty Collection Insolvency employees may resume normal procedures for making NFTL determinations and filing NFTLs. Unless required by delegation order or IRM guidance, management approval of new NFTL filings is no longer necessary. Also, employees may resume requesting NFTLs systemically for cases assigned to them on the Integrated Collection System (ICS).