Filing taxes can often be confusing and arduous for people without a background in finance. For years, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has been determined to solve how it can improve the taxpayer experiences and make filing taxes simpler for citizens. Recently, the agency learned that 75 percent of taxpayers accessed its website using a mobile device. As a result, the IRS launched an initiative to revolutionize experiences across all platforms by meeting taxpayers where they are with a mobile app that helps them file their taxes quickly and easily.
In a webinar hosted by GovCIO, Mitch Winans, Senior Advisor of the Enterprise Digitalization Office at the IRS, compared the app his team is developing to the popular app Vino, which allows the user to scan a bottle of wine and access information on it. Winans mentioned that while they’d love to crack the code for making “doing your taxes as fun as shopping for wine,” their goal is to revolutionize experiences for taxpayers by providing them with the information they need in the palm of their hand to fulfill their tax obligations quickly and easily.
“When any taxpayer uses a mobile device and points the camera at an IRS image, form, or another document … [they will] receive personalized content based on their unique tax circumstances,” Winans explained. Taxpayers will be able to use the app to help answer specific questions about procedures, differentiate between forms, and identify whether they qualify for certain exemptions. “And it does all that without asking for, or using, any personally identifiable information,” he added.
How Does it Work?
Using innovative technology like augmented reality, natural language processing (NLP), and machine learning (ML) the app will create an engaging and personalized experience. When taxpayers take a picture, the app uses augmented reality “to scan and intuitively recognize” any IRS form or document that provides the user with relative information and an interactive experience. If the user has questions about a form, process, or exemption, native NPL will provide a personalized answer using simple English. In addition, Winan’s team is integrating machine learning to continuously optimize the app based on user experiences and feedback to make improvements in real time.
Who Benefits From This?
While this app will primarily be used by individual taxpayers, it will also bring benefits to businesses and tax professionals, explained Le Tran, Vice President of Federal Financial Services at Maximus. “IRS is really upping their game and trying to improve that experience [across all platforms] … at any point of contact from the walk-in offices, to contact centers, online, or mobile apps,” she said. Tran added that the IRS has taken on a human-centered design mindset by seeing every interaction with the public as an opportunity “to better engage with the taxpayer” and provide them with the tools and solutions they need to succeed.
Transforming taxpayer experiences is no easy feat. However, by recognizing the users’ needs and meeting them where they are, the IRS is one step closer to achieving its goal. By pairing innovative technology with a mindset of continuous improvement and human-centered design, the IRS will be able to provide taxpayers with the critical information they need to file their taxes and meet their obligations quickly and easily.
To learn more about the work being done by the IRS to revolutionize experiences at every level using technology, watch the webinar.