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‘Virtual’ Tax Audits Could Be On The Way

April 7, 2012 by staff 

‘Virtual’ Tax Audits Could Be On The Way, The dreaded process of getting an audit could soon take place over a computer screen in the comfort of your living room.  In what could be an indication of things to come, the IRS launched a pilot program at the end of last year that allows taxpayers to use two-way video conferencing for assistance with tax questions and problems.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service, an independent watchdog arm of the IRS, is already calling for the agency to expand to virtual audits. The IRS says it needs to evaluate the success of the pilot program before making a decision.

The pilot program is currently being tested in 12 locations, where taxpayers needing assistance can log into a computer enabled with video-conferencing. They can then talk to an IRS agent who pops up on the screen to discuss whatever issues they’re having — whether it’s help preparing a tax form or a question about a refund.

TAS is also piloting a virtual assistance program. And Nina Olson, the head of TAS, wrote in a blog post this week that this technology has the potential to “radically transform” the current audit process — eventually allowing taxpayers to use their personal computers to video conference with an IRS examiner.

To schedule an audit, the IRS would send a taxpayer a sign-in code so they could then log in to the meeting from a home or office computer. Documents could be transmitted by simply scanning them with a computer’s built-in camera.

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