Taxpayer First Act provision prompts IRS to change its third-party contact procedures

By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

Beginning Aug. 15, the IRS changed its procedures for contacting third parties and notifying taxpayers. The changes were in response to amendments to Sec. 7602(c)(1) made by the Taxpayer First Act, P.L. 116-25, which was effective Aug. 15. The IRS on July 26 issued a memorandum (SBSE-04-0719-0034) for the commissioners of its Large Business & International, Small Business and Self-Employed, Tax Exempt and Government Entities, and Wage and Investment divisions alerting them of the changes in procedures, which will replace the existing Internal Revenue Manual (IRM) procedures until they can be updated. The IRS says it will make those updates within one year of the memorandum.

Under current IRM Section 25.27.1.3, IRS employees may not contact any third party with respect to the determination or collection of a tax liability without first providing reasonable notice to the taxpayer. Under current IRM Section 25.27.1.3.1, sending IRS Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer, generally satisfies the advance notice requirement. However, the memo says that, effective Aug. 15, IRS Publication 1 no longer satisfies the advance notice requirements of Sec. 7602(c)(1).

The Taxpayer First Act changed Sec. 7602(c)(1). Before amendment, the section merely said that the IRS must provide "reasonable notice in advance to the taxpayer" before making contact with a third party. Amended Sec. 7602(c)(1) requires that the notice inform the taxpayer that the IRS intends to contact third parties, that the notice specify the period (not greater than one year) during which the contact will occur, and that the notice be provided more than 45 days before the beginning of the period specified in the notice.

As a result of these changes, the IRS said, beginning Aug. 15, it will issue advance notice of third-party contacts; make clear its intention, at the time the notice is issued, to contact third parties (the notice must state so); specify in the notice the time period, not to exceed one year, within which the IRS intends to make the third-party contact(s); and send the notice to affected taxpayers at least 45 days before it contacts the third party. IRS employees may not contact third parties until the 46th day after ­issuing the notice to the taxpayers.   

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