Jun 17, 2022 - Economy

IRS turns to voice bots to cut down taxpayers' wait times

IRS tax forms

The IRS is expanding voice bot options. Photo: Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Your next call to the Internal Revenue Service could be answered by a voice bot capable of verifying your identity and helping you set up or change a tax payment plan.

Why it matters: The IRS on Friday announced the expansion of its use of voice bots that rely on artificial intelligence to help taxpayers resolve issues. The initiative aims to cut down long wait times and help eliminate a backlog of tax returns.

  • The IRS said it has used bots since January to answer more than 3 million calls and handle basic questions in English and Spanish.
  • This week the agency added authenticated bots for the first time to verify taxpayer's identities and accept payments, Darren Guillot, IRS Deputy Commissioner of Small Business/Self Employed Collection & Operations Support, said on a call with reporters Friday.

What they're saying: Earlier this year, the IRS was having "difficulty answering two or three out of every 10 phone calls," Guillot said. The bots will make it easier for other people to get through on the phones.

  • "You can set up a payment plan and the bot will close your case without any enforcement or any intrusive conversation with an officer of the Internal Revenue Service," Guillot said.

Details: The IRS said eligible taxpayers who call the automated collection system and accounts management toll-free lines can authenticate or verify their identities through a personal identification number (PIN) creation process.

  • To set up a PIN, taxpayers need their most recent IRS bill and some basic personal information to complete the process.

What's next: Later this year, the IRS said taxpayers with established or newly created PINs will be able to get account and return transcripts, payment history and current balance owed.

Go deeper:

Go deeper