The right to appeal an IRS decision in an independent forum is one of 10 key rights guaranteed to taxpayers under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights. As taxpayers attempt to resolve tax disputes outside of a court setting, the pleas heard by the Office of Appeals amount to no small number. Each year, more than 100,000 taxpayers file appeals.
On August 1st, the IRS Office of Appeals began piloting a service that will make things easier, especially for taxpayers who live far from an IRS Appeals Office.
What is it?
Well, in case you haven’t heard (and your clients are going to love this), taxpayers and their representatives can soon take advantage of a new web-based conference option.
At this time, taxpayers moving through the appeals process can meet with an Appeals Officer in person or by phone, or if they prefer, they can meet virtually through videoconference. This technology is only available at a limited number of IRS offices.
What are its benefits?
For most taxpayers, saving time is an important consideration and a phone call works just fine. Others prefer face-to-face dealings. The Office of Appeals’ pilot program will connect with taxpayers face-to-face, using a secure, web-based screen-sharing platform. They can connect from anywhere Internet access is available.
As with most new technology, there are other benefits to the new IRS conference option. This technology may also be a way for the IRS to provide greater access, efficiency and flexibility to taxpayers. It’s similar to popular screen-sharing programs used on phones and home computers.
And what would it be if not convenient? This web-based model is better suited to the appeals process and has more features than the existing video-conferencing technology.
IRS Chief, Appeals Donna Hansberry, says taxpayers who choose the web-based option will be able to get face-to-face service remotely, and in the future taxpayers may have even greater options, and the Office of Appeals may be more flexible 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,” says Hansberry.
Will it work?
The Office of Appeals plans to assess the results, including taxpayer satisfaction with the new technology. Something to look forward to! Stay tuned.