During the pandemic, IRS expanded its options for resolving federal tax disputes to include video conferences for appeals.
Now, it’s seeking feedback on permanent video conference guidance for tax appeals and other agency correspondence with taxpayers, which could be important for communicating with IRS about tax issues in the future.
The Service issued interim guidance on how to conduct video conferences back in March 2021. Currently, this guidance includes info about technology that should be used, conditions for scheduling and conducting video conferences, and procedures to verify authorized participants.
IRS’ Appeals department is seeking additional feedback from employers and other stakeholders as it creates permanent guidelines for video conferencing.
Current feedback on video conferences
So far, the agency’s received mostly positive feedback about allowing tax appeals via video conferences. Those who’ve participated in a video conference have said that video technology allows them to plead their case better than they could on a telephone conference.
In particular, the option to use screen sharing to present key documents has helped taxpayers more thoroughly discuss their tax issue. And in some cases, it’s helped IRS resolve the problem quicker.
The existing interim guidance has recommendations for IRS to establish a professional environment during video conferences, including reducing distractions, muting audio when participants aren’t speaking and making sure the representative’s name is displayed on the screen.
Per feedback from taxpayers so far, it’s important for IRS to engage participants in the conference, making sure everyone’s introduced and has their cameras on. The agency plan to address this in its final guidance, saying that the role of the representative leading the conference is crucial to success.
Another area IRS has already received feedback on that’s shaping the agency’s final guidance on video conferencing is technology requirements. To keep video conferencing accessible to those with limited access to tech, IRS plans to keep technical requirements for video conferencing to a minimum. The platform the agency’s currently using is Microsoft Teams.
Make your voice heard
Right now, the agency’s seeking feedback from employers, Finance and tax pros about how to best create policies for video conferences with taxpayers. While these guidelines will be used to conduct virtual appeals hearings, they’ll likely impact IRS procedures for video conferences in other areas as well.