IRS goes high-tech: Video-conferencing for virtual tax audits | Economy | -- Your State. Your News.

Jul 04th
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IRS goes high-tech: Video-conferencing for virtual tax audits

irslogo021710_optBY BOB HOLT

The IRS will tell you that they are your friend, and now they are trying to make audits easier on taxpayers.

If you need one, your taxpayer advocate may be paying you a visit soon, but in the comfort of the computer room in your own home. reports that the Internal Revenue Service has been running a pilot program since the end of last year that allows taxpayers to talk to an IRS agent through video-conferencing. The IRS is evaluating the program’s success level to decide whether to include virtual tax audits.

“We’re still assessing the results," the IRS said, according to CNN. "It's premature to speculate about future steps."

The IRS would schedule an audit by sending a taxpayer a sign-in code so they could then log in to the meeting from a nearby computer. Forms could be transmitted by scanning them with the camera from the computer.

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National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson says the IRS’s highly automated examination program for returns leads to problems such as confusing audit notices that bring low response rates and high rates of default tax assessments. And no single IRS employee is assigned to work on a given taxpayer’s return.

Olson believes virtual auditing could radically transform the IRS’s current audit process and the relationship between taxpayers and the IRS. They would also need funding from Congress.

“The IRS needs the funds to adopt this technology and incorporate it into all of the service functions it conducts less effectively today,” she said, according to Accounting Today.

The virtual assistance program is now running in 12 locations, and is set to continue through May.


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