WASHINGTON – Taxpayers and their representatives will have the option of appealing Internal Revenue Service decisions via video conferences under a 90-day pilot program beginning August 1.
Taxpayers already have the option of arranging a telephone conference with an IRS appeals officer instead of meeting in person with one of them who are located in 68 cities around the country.
The pilot program will use Cisco's WebEx software as a platform. "This offer will primarily be extended to the taxpayer with the initial contact letter,'' the IRS said. "If the taxpayer/representative agree to a WebEx conference, the appeals officer will send them an email that contains the WebEx conference link.''
All types of tax disputes, including municipal bond cases, will be included in the pilot program.
The IRS Office of Appeals handles more than 100,000 appeals by taxpayers annually.
At least one muni tax controversy attorney said he probably won't sign up for the pilot program, at least for complex cases.
“I think face-to-face conferences are very important in complex cases and I don’t regard virtual conferences as an acceptable substitute,” said Brad Waterman, who has brought a significant muni cases before the IRS Office of Appeals.
Donna Hansberry, IRS chief of appeals, said the agency may eventually expand the use of video conferencing, but did not offer a timeline for doing that.
“We hope this is one more option to enable IRS employees to provide timely, efficient and effective service to taxpayers,’’ said Hansberry.