H&R Block introduces AI chatbot that will answer your complex tax questions

Confused about your tax return? You can now get an assist from AI.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
Tax forms on a desk
Jeffrey Hamilton/Getty Images

While tax season is still a few months away for most people, one of the largest tax preparation companies in America has launched a tool that harnesses artifical intelligence (AI) to make sure people get the tax answers they need.

The chatbot, called AI Tax Assist, is powered by Microsoft's Azure OpenAI and is included with any paid version of H&R Block tax software. 

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The tool can engage with customers about topics like tax deductions, tax theory, tax code, new laws and policies, maximizing refunds, and more. The chatbot is conversational, and users can refer back to previous conversations. If a customer prefers the help of a live person, they can get personalized help with no additional charge, says H&R Block.

Intuit's TurboTax rolled out a similar AI tax assistance tool just a few months ago.

A demonstration offered by the company showed a user -- who works as a rideshare driver -- asking about the specific things that could be deducted from their taxes. The chatbot listed off items that could serve as a tax deduction and the user was given the option to add those things to their return.

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In a press release about its new feature, H&R Block pointed out a common problem with some AI chatbots -- the fact that they sometimes rely on community answers or search results that are wrong. Instead, H&R Block says its chatbot was trained with knowledge from The Tax Institute, a group of professional tax attorneys, CPAs, and tax agents. 

H&R Block said its goal with this new AI-enabled feature is to to help customers understand how their taxes work, rather than just being told where to put a certain number. The company hopes the advice from AI Tax Assist helps keep customers on the H&R Block site, instead of turning to Google search.

Of course, one important questions is what happens if the AI hallucinates or just offers flat-out wrong information? 

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H&R Block does offer a guarantee that its service will get customers the largest refund or smallest liability, but the compensation for "an error in the H&R Block tax preparation software" that causes that issue is simply a refund of fees paid for the service and a free re-file. 

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