IRS Appeals Retains Video Conference Option, Requests Public Input
In 2017, we posted about the IRS Independent Office of Appeals’ (IRS Appeals) implementation of a face-to-face virtual option for taxpayers. Now, IRS Appeals wants suggestions from tax professionals on how to improve and enhance the video conferencing platform.
IRS Appeals offers taxpayers conferences by telephone, video or in person. The COVID-19 pandemic triggered expanded interim guidance that required employees to conduct video conferences when requested by taxpayers. IRS Appeals plans to make updates to the Internal Revenue Manual, including guidelines for conducting video conferences and for using the video conference platform technology, Microsoft Teams.
In April 2022, IRS Appeals acknowledged its large backlog of cases and detailed a multipoint plan to reduce “significant inventory.” As we discussed previously in our post, the plan offered welcome developments, including additional resources, prioritization of docketed casework, faster initial contact with the taxpayer, streamlined case processing, resolution of cases without conferences that were triggered from pandemic miscommunication and reliance on oral statements to resolve cases rather than trials. Improvements to the video conferencing platform can only help to alleviate that backlog further.
Some of the common ideas expressed by taxpayers and tax professionals to date include:
- The potential for improving the taxpayer experience as taxpayers may be better able to present their cases over video rather than on a phone conference.
- The critical nature of the IRS Appeals employee’s role in making sure every participant is introduced and participants turn on their cameras.
- How screensharing allows for a more comprehensive discussion of issues and potentially earlier resolution.
- Keeping technical requirements to a minimum for taxpayers who find the video conference platform challenging while also ensuring other options (such as teleconferences and in-person conferences) remain available.
Generally, it is up to taxpayers or their representatives to decide how they will meet with IRS Appeals. According to a recent release, the type of conference chosen will not impact IRS Appeals’ substantive decision in a matter. Comments should be sent to [email protected] by November 16, 2022.
Practice Point: IRS Appeals remains one of the most effective ways for taxpayers to resolve disputes with the IRS. With video conferencing here to stay, tax practitioners with ideas for improvements should consider submitting them, as they may not be considered otherwise.
For our prior comments and posts on IRS Appeals, see the links below: