The Internal Revenue Service Office of Appeals will soon pilot a new web-based virtual conference option for taxpayers and their representatives. This virtual face-to-face option will provide an additional option for taxpayer conferences. The IRS expects it to be especially useful for taxpayers located far from an IRS Appeals office.
Each year, the Office of Appeals hears appeals of more than 100,000 taxpayers attempting to resolve their tax disputes without going to court. Currently, taxpayers involved in the appeals process can meet with an Appeals Officer by phone, in person or virtually through videoconference technology available only at a limited number of IRS offices.
While a phone call works well for most taxpayers, others prefer face-to-face interaction. Appeals’ pilot program will use a secure, web-based screen-sharing platform to connect with taxpayers face-to-face from anywhere they have internet access. Similar to popular screen-sharing programs used on phones and home computers, this technology may also be a way for the IRS to provide greater access, efficiency and flexibility to taxpayers. This web-based model is more convenient and has more features than the existing video-conferencing technology.
“Taxpayers who choose the web-based option will be able to get face-to-face service remotely,” said IRS Chief, Appeals Donna Hansberry. “In the future, the technology may give taxpayers greater options in engaging with Appeals and could allow us the flexibility to serve taxpayers virtually from any location using mobile devices or computers.
“We hope this is one more option to enable IRS employees to provide timely, efficient and effective service to taxpayers,” said Hansberry.
Appeals plans to start the pilot Aug. 1, 2017 and will assess the results, including taxpayer satisfaction with the technology.