The Internal Revenue Service is the tax collection agency for all United States citizens. A well known department which is constantly bombarded with requests, the agency receives over 75 million phone calls and more than 500 billion website visits in one single tax season. You may be thinking, “there is no way a single department can handle all those requests effectively,” and you are absolutely right. This is why the IRS has begun looking into the use of artificial intelligence to handle this amount of request volume.
AI bots for chat requests
Although the IRS currently uses a phone tree with different options to guide callers toward specific services, more can certainly be done to streamline communication. For example, these phone trees help someone who knows exactly what they are looking for, but they cannot backtrack through the steps or remember past questions. This is where chatbots come in.
The first step in bringing AI to the IRS will likely come in the form of smart chatbots who can offer guidance for those who have questions about their taxes. Any customer service department can benefit greatly from the use of chatbots, and the IRS certainly could use some help answering the hoards of inquiries that come their way. AI customer service representatives can give a more tailored experience than the outdated phone tree system.
Help with speech translation
The IRS has to handle a great deal of tax documents from its sister agencies in other countries. These documents and requests must first be translated internally before being processed. This creates a unique problem for government employees who are not fluent in Japanese, German, or Spanish.
Chatbots are not only adept at handling customer inquiries, but can also be programmed to auto translate any internal information. Today’s speech recognition software is incredibly intelligent, and will only continue to become smarter. The application of AI translation programs will speed up the tax return process for those sending attachments from overseas. An added bonus, AI bots cost much less to operate than hiring a human translator, so the funds saved can be used to better other areas needing improvement within the agency.
Stopping fraud and identity theft
In a government department facing decreasing staff and what seems like endless budget cuts, the IRS is turning to AI for the future of detecting criminal tax activity. Tasks which used to take humans weeks or even months to complete, depending on the complexity of the case, now takes machine learning mere minutes to complete.
The new AI system uses advanced technology to sift through a vast database of tax returns, bank reports, and property records to weed out tax cheats. This program is even using social media to compile cases against those who commit tax fraud and identity theft. The smart application then creates a graph based on the algorithm found in data and checks for any patterns of noncompliance in these graphs. Although it might sound complicated, this system is incredibly efficient, especially compared to prior traditional investigative actions. In fact, machine learning is working so quickly that it can catch an identity theft before they actually get a chance to complete the crime.
The IRS is taking on less cases recently due to budget cuts and an unfortunate amount of unsuccessful tax crime cases. AI is restoring hope that one of the busiest departments will be able to keep up with the rising complaints and questions.
Filling in missed information
The same technology businesses use to collect data on past purchases to recommend similar products is surprisingly being used for the IRS. This algorithm provides a valuable tool for agents looking to fill in the blanks when taxpayers leave out information on forms. Based on a pattern of surrounding data and past given information, the tech can fill gaps successfully on its own.
There are exciting advancements in store for the IRS thanks to AI. The department is getting faster and more streamlined with the help of machine learning.
Victoria Liset is strategic business & technology consultant to SMEs. She helps businesses improve their performance by using data more efficiently, and helping them to understand the implications of new technologies such as AI, Machine Learning, Big data, blockchain and IoT.