Appeals videoconference pilot program debuts

By Sally P. Schreiber, J.D.

Taxpayers and their representatives are now able to conduct virtual web-based videoconferences with IRS Appeals officers, the IRS announced on July 24. The virtual Appeals conference program was launched as a pilot on Aug. 1 so the IRS can assess how satisfied taxpayers are with the new service and the technology.

Before this service was introduced, taxpayers who were pursuing an IRS appeal could hold a videoconference with an Appeals officer only using technology available at a limited number of IRS offices. Otherwise, they had to communicate by phone or meet in person.

The pilot program uses a secure, web-based screen-sharing platform to allow Appeals personnel to connect with taxpayers face-to-face from anywhere those taxpayers have internet access. The IRS says it hopes that this technology will allow it to provide greater access, efficiency, and flexibility to taxpayers in the Appeals process because the pilot program involves videoconference technology that can be used from anywhere, rather than just from an IRS Appeals office.

The IRS says it handles the appeals of more than 100,000 taxpayers every year. The agency hopes in the future to be able to connect with taxpayers from any location using mobile devices or computers.

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