IRS Unveils New TEAMs to Turbocharge Its Aging TAMs

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been looking for ways to speed up its aging system for issuing Taxpayer Advice Memoranda (TAMs). Chief Counsel B. John Williams, Jr. thinks the Service has found the right answer in TEAMs (Technical Expedited Advice Memoranda).

The purpose of the TAM program is to publish binding guidance for specific taxpayer situations. But the Service hasn't been issuing many TAMs in recent years, mostly because practitioners complain it takes too long. A typical TAM can take 90 to 120 days or more to issue. Instead, the Service has been trying to make do with Field Service Advice (FSA). But Mr. Williams says FSAs fall short because, in their current form, they don't allow for an adequate level of interaction and taxpayer involvement.

TEAMs are designed to address the issues of speed and taxpayer involvement as follows:

  1. The taxpayer and the field will not have to agree on the facts. They will seek agreement, but if unable to agree, they can submit alternative versions of the facts to the IRS's national office.
  2. There will be a mandatory pre-submission conference involving the taxpayer, the field, field counsel, and the national office technical attorneys.
  3. The IRS will make liberal use of technology and will encourage the use of fax, email and telephone conferences to speed consideration and minimize the levels of time and expense for both the taxpayer and the IRS.

The goal is to issue TEAMs within 60 days. As for FSAs, they will be replaced with Strategic Advice Memoranda, and their function will be strictly case-specific development of facts and strategies. They will not state the legal position of the IRS or the Chief Counsel's office. If legal advice is needed, it will be issued as a TAM or TEAM.

The TEAM program was announced in IRS News Release IR-2002-69. It will begin as a pilot program in the Income Tax and Accounting Division. Details of the TEAM program are included in Revenue Procedure 2002-30, which will be effective when it is published in Internal Revenue Bulletin 2002-24 dated June 17, 2002. Download IR-2002-69 and Rev. Proc. 2002-30.

-Rosemary Schlank

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