Correspondence Exam Practitioner Concerns (or CEAP) was a major undertaking that started in Correspondence Exam, which began in 2012. We gathered, evaluated, and addressed all feedback received about the Correspondence Exam process.
What are recent Correspondence Exam Practitioner Concerns?
A large part of this effort was based on practitioner feedback that we gathered at venues such as this or through phone forums as well. In addition, we also included some of the information that was elevated through the stakeholder liaisons. During the course of this project, several improvements were made including changes to guidance. We identified over a dozen IRM changes that were necessary to clarify our examination procedures.
Changes to Correspondence Exam
Also, we made changes to publications and letters. We completed several changes to the printed material, including to the Publication 3498-A, which is included in all of our notices. We also made changes to printed materials and letters such as to Letters 566 and 525, as well as the information request forms, the 886As that we issue for Schedule A and mortgage interest audits. We increased the experience base of assistors on the Practitioner Priority Service line by removing the less experienced tax examiners from answering these types of calls. There was no substantial increase in wait time. We did check the wait time on the PPS line, and the time is about one minute total wait when the correct prompts are followed, so please listen to the prompts accordingly.
Calling IRS About Correspondence Exam
And I know I hear chuckles constantly; this is not the first time that I have heard that. We did go back after this last forum, and we did call the PPS number and followed the appropriate prompts to reach the Correspondence or AUR, and it was less than one minute wait time. If you continue to have problems, please elevate those through the stakeholder liaison. It could be based on the time that you are calling into the PPS line as well. We also piloted process changes to minimize the touches on a correspondence audit.
Virtual Service Delivery
We also rolled out Virtual Service Delivery. And what this is, this VSD equipment allows for a virtual face-to-face meeting. We piloted and tested this approach for some correspondence audits that occurred during FY13 and 14, and we are currently evaluating the cost and benefits of being able to provide this virtual face-to-face service avenue. We also developed an Exam Mail Tool. This is an automated tool to help with the controlling and routing of all incoming mail, and it is uniform within Correspondence Exam in all of the campuses. So, mail is now controlled usually within four days of the IRS received date (once it is received in our department).
We also developed and delivered training to all employees on the results of this effort (the CEAP) with an emphasis on customer perspective, including the need to own contacts with the taxpayers over the toll-free line. Additionally, we developed new training on the proper use of sound judgment to help us resolve correspondence audits. Now, this formal project concluded at the end of September 2014, but the long-term solutions identified through CEAP will continue as independent efforts, and these include taxpayer digital communications. We conducted some audits and pilots on a secure email portal; Internet videos explaining the Correspondence Exam process; and then also the future of Virtual Service Delivery. Now, we continue to work on many more suggestions and continue to gather feedback and share information with you, the practitioner community, through various phone forums and venues such as this.