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IRS Begins Using Voice and Chat Bots to Answer Basic Taxpayer Questions

Ruth Singleton
Published Date:
Mar 11, 2022

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The IRS announced that it has begun using voice bots on two toll-free numbers and chat bots on to answer taxpayers’ simple questions about payments or collections notices. Through these bot services, taxpayers can get the information they need quickly and avoid waiting. They  still have the option to speak with IRS telephone representatives if they need to. 

"Our phone lines continue to see unprecedented demand, and the IRS continues to look for ways to help people and avoid long wait times," said IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig. "Our telephone representatives remain an important part of the service we provide, but these bots can help some people avoid lengthy phone delays for something that could be resolved on the spot. This is part of a larger effort to help people get the assistance they need this tax season." 

The IRS defined voice bots as “software powered by artificial intelligence (AI) that allow a caller to navigate an interactive voice response (IVR) system with their voice, generally using natural language.” It noted that “chat bots simulate human conversation through web-based text interaction, also using AI-powered software to respond to natural language prompts.”  

"Voice and chat bots interact with taxpayers in easy-to-follow ways, which means taxpayers don't have to wait on hold to handle simple tasks," said Darren Guillot, commissioner of amall business/self employed collection at the IRS. 

The agency said that, in recent weeks, it has begun using voice and chat bots in English and Spanish specifically for phone lines that assist taxpayers with tax payments issues or with understanding an IRS notice they may have received. The bots are not yet available for people with general tax season questions, but later this year, the IRS plan to use them to assist taxpayers with more complex issues. Also, later this year, the bots will be used to enable taxpayers to authenticate their identity to establish payment plans, request a transcript and obtain information about their accounts, such as payoff details. 

The bots are now available to help taxpayers with the following: 

• How to make one-time payments 

• Answers to frequently asked questions 

• Collection notice clarification 

The IRS reported that its toll-free lines receive millions of calls a year, and that a customer service representative spends on average nearly 20 minutes with each taxpayer seeking help on a collection issue. It said that a chief benefit of voice and chat bots is freeing up these representatives for taxpayers with complex collection issues. 

It also reported that voice bots also helped  taxpayers calling the Economic Impact Payment (EIP) toll-free line, providing general procedural responses to frequently asked questions. The IRS also added voice bots for the Advance Child Tax Credit toll-free line in February to provide similar assistance to callers who need help reconciling the credits on their 2021 tax return. 

The agency noted that other self-service options  are also available. 

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