All large business taxpayers and their representatives may meet with IRS officials by videoconference upon request, the Service told its employees in the Large Business and International (LB&I) Division in a memo.
The memo, LB&I-04-0821-0011, dated Sept. 3, was effective Oct. 18, when it was publicly released along with IRS News Release IR-2021-204 outlining the change.
The IRS generally suspended all in-person taxpayer examination and appeals meetings in 2020 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Until then, taxpayers meeting with the LB&I Division generally were able to do so only in person or by telephone. During the pandemic, videoconferences were allowed for some LB&I taxpayers "who sought more than meeting with an IRS employee over telephone calls," the news release stated.
Videoconferences had been allowed for some other taxpayers as well, such as by the Independent Office of Appeals, which had been offering that option in some cases since launching a pilot program in 2017.
According to the LB&I memo, "[t]he duration of the pandemic and uncertain outlook regarding the immediate future" promoted allowing videoconferences for the division's taxpayer meetings, according to its author, Nikole C. Flax, the LB&I commissioner. "Taxpayers have told us throughout the pandemic that communication by telephone is not always adequate or productive," Flax wrote.
The memo and news release state that a secure videoconference will be arranged for all LB&I taxpayers requesting one. The memo prescribes approved videoconference platforms, which include WebEx and Zoom for Government (with Microsoft Teams to be phased in later), and related protocols for privacy and authentication.
The LB&I Division handles domestic and foreign businesses with a U.S. tax obligation that have assets of $10 million or more. It also administers the IRS's Global High Wealth and International Individual Compliance programs.
— By Paul Bonner, a JofA senior editor.