How do you feel about automated phone systems?  Do you cringe when speaking to a computer or answering questions by the press of a button?  Enjoy the freedom to call 24/7 without having to wait on hold?  Whether you love it or you hate it, if you have an IRS issue, you will likely be seeing more of it in any calls you place to the IRS. 

The IRS announced last week that they will be handling a greater volume of inbound calls by automation in an effort to free up their Call Center employees for more complex requests.  The call will be with an artificial intelligence bot.  This bot is to be able to authenticate a taxpayer’s identity and assist taxpayers in setting up a payment plan for tax balances below $25,000 without having to speak with an IRS employee.

This new system comes as the IRS is reported to currently be answering only two or three of every ten calls from taxpayers.  The goal is to cut down on long wait times and eliminate the backlog the IRS is currently facing in processing returns.  IRS Deputy Commissioner of Small Business/Self Employed Collection and Operations Support says that “if you don’t have more people to answer phone calls, what are the type of taxpayer issues that are so straightforward that artificial intelligence could do it for us, to free up more of our human assisters to interact with taxpayers who need to talk to us about much more complex issues.”  IRS Commissioner Chuck Rettig says that this automation initiative is part a bigger initiative to improve the taxpayer experience at the IRS. 

The bot will authenticate taxpayer identifies by asking basic information and requiring that the taxpayer provide a number provided on IRS notices issued.  It will set up payment arrangements by allowing the taxpayer to name the number they would like to pay that will pay the debt in full within 72 months or less. 

The IRS doesn’t plan to limit the bots to just installment agreements – there are plans for it to soon be able to provide account and return transcripts, payment history, and current balances owed. 

In our years of experience in dealing with the IRS, we’ve seen many pros and cons – benefits and setbacks – of both human-based and computer-based IRS contact.  We are looking forward to seeing how this new AI system works.  Stay tuned!