‘Digital tax assistant’ could prove especially beneficial to 40 percent of taxpayers who reported making filing errors
NEW YORK; Feb. 20, 2018 – Nearly 70 percent of taxpayers in 12 countries said they would use AI to improve the accuracy of tax filings, according to a new study by Accenture (NYSE: ACN), which also found that more than 40 percent of taxpayers reported making a filing error in the last 24 months.
The Accenture Digital Taxpayers Research asked more than 6,500 taxpayers across Europe, Asia-Pacific and North America who interacted with their tax authority in the prior 12 months about their experiences with, attitudes about and expectations of revenue authorities.
The findings indicate that in an era in which people around the world expect easy and simple consumer experiences, tax rules and regulations still confuse citizens. For instance, 38 percent of respondents said they are not confident they pay the right amount of tax, and 44 percent said they feel their tax knowledge could be improved. While most respondents said they have limited contact with their revenue authorities after filing a tax form, half (51 percent) reported contacting their revenue authority once or twice in the past year, with 20 percent reporting three or more contacts. The majority of contacts were to resolve taxpayer errors in completing the form or reconciling payments due.
Despite this, taxpayers in all 12 countries seem happy with their revenue authorities, with nearly two-thirds (62 percent) of all respondents and nearly three-quarters (73 percent) of younger taxpayers, ages 25- to 34 years old, reporting a positive attitude toward their tax authority.
The findings also indicate that citizens would be comfortable using AI in the tax-filing process. Two-thirds (67 percent) of taxpayers said that if offered, they would use a “digital tax assistant”—a virtual assistant, running in the background on any device that could address any tax question with conversational language and could, over time, become more intelligent and personal about each taxpayer’s personal and professional tax situation.
More than half the respondents said they would be more likely to use the digital tax assistant if it automated forms with basic taxpayer information (53 percent), reduced or eliminated errors (55 percent), made the process of tax filing more convenient (55 percent), and decreased the amount of time to receive a refund (67 percent).
“With artificial intelligence starting to permeate nearly every aspect of our daily life, from digital voice assistants to smart home devices, revenue agencies also are looking to its potential in their own operations,” said David Regan, who leads Accenture’s global work with revenue agencies and tax authorities. “It won’t be long before citizens will be able to talk to tax-expert automated bots to understand and pay their taxes.”
An AI-based digital tax assistant could help tax authorities improve or increase personalization of services, and seven in 10 taxpayers (69 percent) said that they want their tax authority to provide them with more personalized services in the future. Among the tailored services or experiences respondents cited interest in are website content relevant and specific to the taxpayer (cited by 73 percent of respondents); a personalized opt-in service that verifies final tax return with the taxpayer before issuing a refund (69 percent); and better awareness by the tax authority’s customer service regarding personal tax situations and past transactions, enabling them to provide more tailored advice (66 percent).
“Advances in artificial intelligence, particularly natural language processing, are creating the ability to support rich voice conversations between people and technology,” Regan said. “The implications for AI also extend to processes like audits, risk and compliance management and the accuracy of prompts to taxpayers. AI will radically alter traditional approaches to communication and information processing.”
The global Accenture Taxpayer Survey covers topics related to the taxpayer’s experiences with, attitudes toward and expectations from their respective federal tax authorities. The online survey was conducted by Market Knowledge Online with 6,512 citizens in Australia, Denmark, France, Ireland, Japan, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States who interacted with their tax authority in the last 12 months beyond simply filing their taxes. The majority (62 percent) of respondents were part- or full-time employees who had to file a tax return; 12 percent were part- or full-time employees; 13 percent were self-employed or small business owners; and 13 percent were retirees.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions – underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network – Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With more than 435,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.
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