Well, the IRM is certainly a set of procedures that employees are supposed to follow. And when those procedures are mandated by law, they have no choice. But there are a lot of things that employees have the discretion to do — sometimes with manager's approval — that deviate from the IRM when the requirement is not a legal one. When I was at IRS I did that more than most, but I always was careful to document the justification for it and get approval for that when possible. And knowing what can be done has helped me when representing clients to get the IRS to bend when there was a good reason to do it. The agent or officer saying no and pointing the IRM doesn't have to be the end of it, though I've met some tax pros who never worked for the IRS who think that it is and do not try to get the IRS to bend or don't know how to do it.I'm also going to give the rep the benefit of the doubt. I've had a phone rep tell me he was bound by the IRM (true) and I told him that what he was telling me was contrary to the IRC (also true). What was really happening is that the rep's understanding of the IRM was flawed and more often than not, trying to get the rep to both realize and admit this is difficult at best.