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Tax pros ‘very skeptical’ about expanded IRS voice bots for payments plans

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In case you get a tax bill and wish help from the IRS to establish a payment plan, newly expanded voice bots may make for faster phone service, in keeping with the agency. But some tax professionals are doubtful in regards to the latest plan to cut back wait times. 

Artificial intelligence-driven IRS voice bots can now assist taxpayers by phone with organising or making changes to payment plans.

“For the primary time in 160 years, this agency is in a position to successfully interact with a taxpayer using artificial intelligence to access their account and resolve it, in certain situations, with none wait on hold,” IRS deputy commissioner Darren Guillot said on a press call. 

Callers, nonetheless, should still speak with an agent if needed.

That may be easier said than done.

Officially, the typical phone wait time was 23 minutes in 2021, in keeping with the National Taxpayer Advocate. However the agency has been fighting staffing and increased call volumes. In its 2021 report back to Congress, the National Taxpayer Advocate called out phone service as one in all probably the most significant issues, noting that the agency only answered 11% of calls during fiscal 12 months 2021.

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How voice bots can solve some taxpayer problems

Here’s how the voice bots work: Once you get a bill from the IRS, you possibly can call the agency and follow voice-prompted steps to confirm your identity. By providing the caller ID out of your IRS letter, the bots may share payment plan options and assist with setting one up.

You could qualify to make use of the service with a tax balance of $25,000 or less, which is the vast majority of IRS payment plans, in keeping with agency officials. 

The IRS has used phone-answering voice bots since January, answering basic payment or notice inquiries to in the reduction of on long wait times. Nonetheless, the most recent upgrade is the primary opportunity for voice bots to resolve a taxpayer’s issue.

After all, complex problems, reminiscent of penalty relief or hardship, should still require a live agent, the IRS said.

The agency plans to expand voice bot capability to permit authenticated callers to receive tax transcripts, payment history and the present balance due.

Tax professionals remain ‘skeptical’ about voice bots

While the IRS expects the newly expanded features to be fully deployed this week, some tax professionals are still iffy in regards to the voice bots.

Dan Herron, a licensed financial planner and CPA with Elemental Wealth Advisors in San Luis Obispo, California, said voice bots are a superb idea for “quite simple things,” reminiscent of balance due questions. But he’s “very skeptical” about bots organising payment plans with multiple moving parts. 

Does anyone actually get anything settled by AI voice bots for any company, let alone the Internal Revenue Service?

Adam Markowitz

Vp at Howard L Markowitz PA, CPA

What’s more, voice bots without answers may trigger further frustrations amongst callers, said Adam Markowitz, an enrolled agent and vp at Howard L Markowitz PA, CPA in Leesburg, Florida. 

“Does anyone actually get anything settled by AI voice bots for any company, let alone the Internal Revenue Service?” he added.

Phyllis Jo Kubey, a Recent York-based enrolled agent and president of the Recent York State Society of Enrolled Agents is optimistic in regards to the expanded voice bots and applauds the agency for “more sophisticated automated taxpayer assistance.”

Nonetheless, she worries taxpayers may “bite off greater than they’ll chew” and comply with unrealistic monthly payments when organising a plan through the automated system.

“I hope the IRS has its AI arrange to question the taxpayer about whether or not they can afford the monthly payment on which they agree,” she said.

CNBC has reached out to the IRS for comment.

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