Appeals Expands Access to Video Conferences

 

The IRS Independent Office of Appeals (Appeals) resolves disputes through taxpayer conferences. Taxpayers can choose to meet with Appeals by telephone, video, or in person, or to resolve their appeal through correspondence.

To meet taxpayer needs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Appeals expanded access to video conferences. A video conference allows taxpayers to be both seen and heard, and to visually share documents, without coming to an Appeals office. Below are answers to frequently asked questions on Appeals video conferences.

Video conferences will remain a permanent option. We invite your input on enhancing Appeals video conferences with taxpayers and tax professionals.

All Appeals cases are eligible for a video conference at the taxpayer’s request. Appeals will not conduct a video conference unless you agree to it. 

No. Video conferences are simply an additional conference option available to taxpayers. You can meet with Appeals in person or by telephone instead of video.

Appeals uses Microsoft Teams to conduct video conferences. You’ll need a computer, tablet, or smartphone with high-speed internet and a video camera to participate. To join from a smartphone or tablet, you may want to download the Teams mobile app. When you request a video conference, the Appeals officer will email you a link for the conference.

Even if you don’t have a video camera, you can still join a video conference to share documents on screen and to see your Appeals officer; however, the Appeals officer will not be able to see you.

In the event your video conference encounters technical difficulties, the Appeals officer can conference with you using more traditional means.

When a taxpayer requests email contact and accepts the risk, the IRS can send a brief, unencrypted message confirming the date, time, and location of an upcoming appointment. However, we won’t include any information about the nature of the appointment or request sensitive information from the taxpayer via email. See Internal Revenue Manual 10.5.1.6.8.1, Emails to Taxpayers and Representatives.

Yes. Microsoft Teams conferences have the same level of security and privacy as a telephone call. No file transfers take place, though documents can be shared on screen.

We recommend against joining a video conference from a public location with internet access, such as a library or coffee shop, because you may expose private information to others. If you choose to use a public location, you are responsible for ensuring the privacy of the conference. Appeals may end the conference if there are disclosure or other security concerns.

They will only see the application you select to share. They can't see your desktop, other pop-up menus, or folders that may display on your screen while you’re sharing the application. It helps to have all the files you wish to share open and anything else closed before the conference begins to avoid inadvertent display of information.