IRS Revises Procedures for Requesting Documents from Tax-Exempt Groups

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The Internal Revenue Service is changing the process for requesting documents from tax-exempt groups.

The IRS’s Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division issued new internal guidance Monday for its agents for issuing information document requests, or IDRs, which the agency issues during examinations to learn more about an organization.

The IRS has come under fire in recent years over delays in approving applications for tax-exempt status from political organizations, particularly Tea Party groups, and in requesting detailed information about their donors and activities. The new guidance, however, relates to groups that have already been granted tax-exempt status.

The new process is scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2017. Before implementing it, the IRS plans to offer training to its agents in the division.

Under the new process, taxpayers will become more involved in the information document request process. Examiners in the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division will discuss the issue being examined and the information needed with the taxpayer before issuing an IDR. Examiners will make sure the document clearly states the issue and the relevant information that’s being requested. If a taxpayer does not provide the information requested by the agreed upon date, including extensions, the examiner will then issue a delinquency notice.

If the taxpayer fails to respond to the delinquency notice or provides an incomplete response, the examiner will issue a pre-summons notice to advise the organization that the IRS intends to issue a summons unless the missing items are fully provided. A summons will then be issued if the taxpayer fails to provide a complete response to the pre-summons letter by the requested due date.

The IRS’s new process also requires the examiners’ managers to be actively involved early in the process and ensures the office of the IRS Counsel is prepared to enforce IDRs by issuing a summons when necessary. Throughout the process, the IRS said it would respect taxpayer rights‎ and the changes will reflect the agency's commitment to the Taxpayer Bill of Rights.

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