Will Voice Bots Reduce IRS Wait Time?

Will Voice Bots Reduce IRS Wait Time?

Calling the IRS is an exercise in frustration. IRS call wait times are so long that 9 out of 10 callers give up and disconnect. But the agency has a solution to speed things up and create a better customer experience: IRS voice bots.

Here is what you need to know about how this technology can reduce IRS wait times.

What Is the Average IRS Call Wait Time?

The average IRS call wait time for this past tax season was reported at 23 minutes. However, that number is artificially low because the vast majority of callers ended up giving up before their call was answered. In fact, among callers who actually waited on hold long enough to have their call answered by a representative, the typical wait was well over an hour.

In fact, among callers who actually waited on hold long enough to have their call answered by a representative, the typical wait was well over an hour.

Considering that the average time IRS reps actually spend on calls with taxpayers is less than 10 minutes, the call queue is like an amusement park ride. You wait for literally hours for something that lasts only a few minutes.

The IRS is hoping to decrease call wait times and improve callers’ experience with voice bots.

What Percentage of Calls Does the IRS Answer?

The percentage of calls the IRS answers keeps dropping every tax year. Indeed, in the past year, that number is 10 out of every 100 (10%). That means 90 out of 100 people who call the IRS never end up even speaking with a representative, usually because the wait times are so horrendous that they give up.

How Do IRS Voice Bots Work?

IRS voice bots use artificial intelligence and voice recognition software to respond to specific questions and guide taxpayers through structured IRS processes. These include inquiring about the balance of a tax debt, setting up a monthly installment plan to pay back taxes, or responding to an IRS notice received in the mail.

Like all AI programs, IRS voice bots will likely learn as they go. The more data they gather from various customer experiences, the larger the pool of knowledge they’ll have to pull from on future IRS calls. That means early users might get frustrated interacting with IRS voice bots and find that they can’t answer anything more than a simple question. However, the experience should improve as the IRS bots’ knowledge base improves.

How Many More Calls Will the IRS Answer With Voice Bots?

The IRS has a stated goal of answering 70% of all calls once the bots are in use. Doing the math, and given that the IRS answered only 10% of calls during the most recent tax season, that means if the IRS reaches its goal, the vast majority of its inbound calls will be answered using voice bots.

Which IRS Phone Numbers Have a Voice Bot?

As of July 2022, the following IRS phone numbers either already have voice bots set up or will soon:

  • Automated Collection System
  • Accounts Management
  • Economic Impact Payment
  • Advance Child Tax Credit

The IRS has plans to also offer voice bot technology for customers with PIN numbers to get tax return transcripts, payment history, and current balances.

What IRS Tax Questions Do Voice Bots Help Answer?

IRS voice bots can answer basic questions about tax balances, tax payment history, and IRS notices. Particularly, the agency hopes to improve the technology to allow taxpayers to use it to set up installment payment plans if they have back taxes.

Does the IRS Have Plans to Expand Voice Bots?

Yes. IRS voice bots are currently used only on a few of its lines. But the IRS has plans to expand them to additional help lines. If they are successful — if the IRS meets its goal of answering 70% of inbound calls — it’s likely they’ll become much more widespread.

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