IRS Expands AI-Powered Bots to Set Up Telephone Payment Plans with Taxpayers

The Internal Revenue Service handles more of its call volume through automation, giving call center agents more time to handle more complex taxpayer requests.

The IRS announced Friday that tax-deferred individuals, who receive an emailed notification from the agency, can call an artificial intelligence-powered bot and set up a payment without having to wait on the phone to speak with an IRS employee. to speak.

Taxpayers Are Eligible To Set Up…

READ MORE

The Internal Revenue Service handles more of its call volume through automation, giving call center agents more time to handle more complex taxpayer requests.

The IRS announced Friday that tax-deferred individuals, who receive an emailed notification from the agency, can call an artificial intelligence-powered bot and set up a payment without having to wait on the phone to speak with an IRS employee. to speak.

Taxpayers are eligible to set up a payment plan through the voting bot if they owe the IRS less than $25,000, which, according to IRS officials, covers the vast majority of taxpayers with outstanding balances.

Taxpayers who call the Automated Collection System (ACS) and Accounts Management toll-free and wish to discuss their payment plan options can verify their identity with a personal identification number on the message they received in the mail.

Darren Guillot, IRS Deputy Commissioner of Small Business/Independent Collections & Operations Support, told reporters Friday that the expanded use of voting bots and chatbots will allow IRS staff to help more taxpayers over the phone.

The IRS answered about three in ten calls from taxpayers earlier this year.

“If you don’t have more people to answer phone calls, what are the kinds of tax issues that are so simple that artificial intelligence could do it for us, to free up more of our human assistants to interact with taxpayers who need to talk to us? on much more complex issues,” Guillot said.

IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig said the automation initiative is part of a broader effort to improve the taxpayer experience at the agency.

“We continue to look for ways to better help taxpayers, and that includes helping people avoid being put on hold or having to make a second phone call to get what they need,” said Rettig. in a statement.

Guillot said the IRS launched bots in December 2021 and January 2022 that can help taxpayers with questions that don’t require authentication of the taxpayer’s identity or access to their private information.

These bots were able to answer basic questions like setting up a one-time payment and answered more than 3 million phone calls before the end of May.

But this week, the IRS expanded its capabilities and launched bots that can verify a taxpayer’s identity and set up a payment plan for individuals.

“It verifies that you are really who you say you are by asking for some basic information and a number that you will have on the message you received. That gives you a phone number to call and talk to the bot,” Guillot said.

Guillot said taxpayers can name their own payment plan price as long as a taxpayer pays their balance within the time frame of the relevant collection statute or up to 72 months.

Once a payment plan is set up, the bot will close the taxpayer’s account without further enforcement action from the IRS.

“Those taxpayers haven’t been on hold for a second,” Guillot said.

Guillot said the IRS is incrementally ramping up its bot capacity to ensure its automation can handle the number of calls it receives. The bot, he added, is currently at about a quarter of its full capacity and will reach 100% capacity next week.

The bots are available 24/7 and can communicate with taxpayers in English and Spanish.

Later this year, Guillot said the bots could provide taxpayers with a copy of their accounts showing the balance of their accounts.

Guillot said the IRS worked closely with state taxpayer attorney Erin Collins in the rollout of the speech bot.

“She expressed legitimate concerns that because they can name their price, some taxpayers could get themselves into a payment plan that is more than they can afford,” he said.

The IRS is working on getting the bots to ask some additional questions to make sure taxpayers can afford the payment plans they’ve set up for themselves.

Guillot said this week’s rollout marks the first time in the history of the IRS that the agency has been able to communicate with taxpayers who use AI to access their accounts and resolve certain situations without being in the loop. having to wait.

“I have friends and family who have to communicate with the Internal Revenue Service, and when I hear them talk about how long they’re on hold, it annoys me. It should bother all of us,” Guillot said.

Guillot said the IRS has also added a “quick response” QR code to the emailed messages that have gone to taxpayers. The QR code takes taxpayers to a page on IRS.gov showing how to make a payment.

Guillot said the IRS originally expected to launch this capability by 2024, but was able to accelerate the rollout given perceived demand for this service.

The IRS has seen low levels of phone service in recent years that have declined further since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

IRS is looking to expand the range of services voicebots can provide and is part of a wider effort to improve services to taxpayers.

“We never lose sight of the fact that our first interaction with any taxpayer is never enforcement. It’s a last resort. Our first effort is always around that word ‘service’ and trying to help clients understand the tax law and almost always work out a meaningful solution with them,” Guillot said.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.