Thanks to the pandemic, reps at IRS may have been tough to reach for Finance pros. Regular phone calls may not have cut it for certain tax-related situations. But now there’s good news: The agency allows virtual video meetings between large business taxpayers and IRS employees.
This new guidance is effective as of Oct. 18, 2021, according to a memo from the commissioner of IRS’ large business and international division.
Video meetings will make it easier for your team to address complex tax issues with IRS – especially those that may require participation in the appeals process.
There are some caveats, however. For security reasons, the agency is only allowing video meetings through specific platforms. Currently, those are WebEx and ZoomGov (not the regular Zoom application). IRS will eventually allow the use of Microsoft Teams as well.
To further boost security, IRS won’t allow its employees to transfer files over these services. Authorized individuals can see confidential tax info directly on screen during the video meeting.
The agency will make sure that Finance pros have authorization to view this info by checking their government-issued ID first. So be sure your team has that documentation handy when participating.
Other important documents that should be at arm’s length during IRS video meetings include:
- Copies of the tax documents in question
- Any communication directly from IRS, and
- Any relevant internal files and documentation.
The agency encourages those using ZoomGov to activate stock government-approved backgrounds to protect their privacy.
Instructions are available online for Finance pros to connect to both WebEx and ZoomGov for IRS video meetings.
Beyond video meetings
Allowing video meetings is part of IRS’ digital strategy that’s evolved since the pandemic made reliance on technology more necessary. The agency is also now allowing images of signatures and digital signatures on certain documents that can be transmitted via secure email.
And IRS will expand several other digital processes, including “read only” rooms for large business taxpayers where employees can share certain confidential documents temporarily with taxpayers.
Ultimately, this’ll make it easier for Finance pros to ask questions and resolve issues with IRS without having to rely on phone conversations or wait weeks for the opportunity to visit an office in person.
It’s key to make sure your team’s computer equipment has the capability to handle these technologies.
Also, it’s important to remind your team that, when sending any documents with confidential tax info to IRS, they must be careful to put minimal identifying info the body of an email to prevent security breaches. Instead, send any confidential tax info via a password-protected or encrypted secure attachment. IT can help with this.