Is the IRS Finally Leaping Into the Future?

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Craig W. Smalley, EA
Founder/CEO
CWSEAPA LLP
Columnist
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About a month ago I wrote an article entitled, The IRS Needs to Drag Itself Into the 21st Century. Shortly after it was published, I received a phone call from the IRS saying that they loved my article and wanted to let me know about a pilot program they were initiating for certain select practitioners. 

According to IR 2017-122, the IRS has announced that beginning August 1, 2017, it will launch a pilot program under which the IRS Office of Appeals will offer taxpayers and their representatives a web-based Virtual Appeals Conference option.

This program will be for practitioners and members of the general public who request a Collections Due Process (CDP) Hearing and will be a pilot program.  The way it happens now is those involved in a collections appeal have the option to meet the Appeals Officer (AO) over the phone or in person. 

The IRS recognizes that while a phone call works well for most taxpayers, others prefer face-to-face interaction. Their Appeals Pilot Program will use a secure, web-based screen-sharing platform to connect with taxpayers face-to-face from anywhere, as long as they have internet access.

The technology is similar to popular screen-sharing programs used on phones and home computers. According to the IRS, this web-based model is more convenient and has more features than the existing video-conferencing technology. This is progress.

I do a lot of collections work and while I’ve done all my appeals conferences over the phone, I can understand and see the value of a face to face interaction with an AO.  There is something different when you meet face to face, and the simple fact that the IRS is willing to do something like this is nothing short of a breakthrough.

According to my contact at the IRS, this is a rollout of a bigger plan that she feels will be in place in about two years. The Service is currently testing systems to make them secure.

I for one see this as progress and am VERY excited at the prospect of doing things electronically with the IRS. What are your thoughts?

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