The IRS has seen major budget cuts in recent years. Despite this, the agency has had to do more with less, while continuing to conduct its normal operations. One place where the IRS has had to make adjustments is with tax appeals. A taxpayer who is audited or whose tax obligation is adjusted has the right to appeal the decision. However, the IRS faces more than 100,000 appeal claims each year, and can be slow to resolve them due to strained resources.
The IRS has thereby announced a pilot program offering online video conferencing to taxpayers and their attorneys who are appealing an IRS decision about their tax obligation. Using a secure, web-based software platform, WebEx, the application will allow face-to-face communication between an appealing taxpayer, their attorney, and allow for the electronic transfer of documents.
By allowing video conferencing, the IRS hopes to allow for greater access to taxpayers who live in rural areas and may not be able to make the long trip for their hearing. In its press release, IRS Appellate Chief Donna Hansberry stated that: “In the future, the technology may give taxpayers greater options in engaging with Appeals and could allow us the flexibility 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.”
Despite these stated goals, this announcement follows a trend where in-person tax appeals have become an increasing rarity. Traditionally, appeals have been conducted by a veteran tax appeals officer in-person at an IRS office. However, the limited resources of the agency has not allowed these tax appeals officers to keep up with appeals claims and telephone conferences have been increasingly common for smaller claims. This has been unfortunate, as many taxpayers prefer to have face-to-face contact to advocate their own tax appeal case. Insofar as this IRS announcement will allow for greater access to this face-to-face communication, this is a positive step for the agency.
But whether the use of video-conferencing will actually help tax appeals officers move through their caseloads more quickly remains to be seen. Short of the IRS committing more resources to hiring more tax appeals officers to handle a growing backlog of appeals, this announcement probably will not lead to the IRS providing more “timely, efficient and effective service to taxpayers.”
Contact a Tax Attorney
If you are considering a tax appeal, you need to act quickly and decisively. One decisive act is to contact a tax attorney for assistance. The team at the Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas takes pride in offering prompt and accurate tax advice. I have been a tax attorney for more than twenty years and have a Master of Law Degree (LLM) in Taxation, and a license to practice in the United States Tax Court. Contact The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas at 847-392-5893 to schedule an appointment or visit our website today.