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April 9, 2012


IRS Audits Could be Eased by Video Conferencing

The IRS is supposed to be accessible to taxpayers. That is why the agency’s Taxpayer Advocate service is starting to conduct a pilot project on the use of teleconferences between case workers and taxpayers who have questions.

IRS audits are another possible forum for video conferences. Nina Olson, the National Taxpayer Advocate, has recommended that the agency develop the technological capacity to offer “virtual face-to-face audits” in the near future.

The need for such a service is made more compelling by ongoing problems with the process for correspondence-based exams. The IRS has been increasingly using the corr-exam procedure, despite the fact that taxpayers are much less likely to respond to it than to an audit notice.

The lack of response to corr exam notices is often due to the confusing nature of the notice – not to taxpayer indifference about the outcome.

The Taxpayer Advocate is firmly opposed to wide usage of corr exams. She argues that too often they can become an “unnavigable labyrinth” for taxpayers.

Instead of a daunting labyrinth, taxpayers with issues to resolve deserve a more transparent process. Through more effective use of technology, a face-to-face audit via a video conference can make such transparency possible.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) at the IRS has already initiated a pilot test of this type of videoconferencing. Among 75 regional offices around the country, the TAS has chosen the Jacksonville, Florida, office for the test.

With an IRS commitment to making it work, video technology has the potential to transform the way the agency relates to taxpayers.

Source: “IRS May Allow Virtual Face-to-Face Audits via Videoconference,” Michael Cohn, Accounting Today, 4-4-12