The IRS will debut a new online pilot program that gives people the option to resolve tax disputes face to face with an IRS representative.
The program will use Cisco’s WebEx secure screen-sharing platform to connect any taxpayer with a remote appeals officer, allowing both parties to video chat and share documents. Unlike the agency’s current video conferencing systems that require taxpayers to go to a designated location, anyone with an internet connection can access the new platform, according to the IRS.
The agency said the pilot will launch at each of its 68 nationwide offices on Aug. 1 and last for 90 days with the possibility of extension. Appeals officers participating in the program will first offer their clients the option to use WebEx and then email a link to those who accept, according to the IRS.
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“We hope this is one more option to enable IRS employees to provide timely, efficient and effective service to taxpayers,” said IRS Chief of Appeals Donna Hansberry in the pilot’s announcement on Monday.
As it stands, taxpayers filing appeals with the IRS can meet with officers over the phone, in person or through video conference. While these services meet the needs of most of the 100,000 people who file appeals each year, those wanting to meet face-to-face but living far from an appeals office find themselves with few viable options. The new tool will offer such people easy access to officials who can help settle tax discrepancies.
Hansberry sees this technology as a first step in giving all taxpayers virtual access to the appeals office through their electronic devices.