If you file your taxes with H&R Block this year, artificial intelligence (AI) might be helping with your return. As part of a partnership announced Wednesday, more than 70,000 H&R Block tax preparers will be using IBM Watson to help them file tax returns.
Watson is IBM's cognitive computing engine, which performs tasks such as interpreting and analyzing data to provide contextual information across a variety of industries. According to a press release, this is the first time the system has been used in tax preparation.
Watson will be working alongside tax professionals to help them find available deductions and tax credits, the release said. A separate client companion screen will show the customer how H&R Block is preparing his or her return.
"The technology will be used by H&R Block's tax professionals this tax season to help deliver the best outcome for each unique tax situation, while helping clients better understand how different filing options can impact their tax outcome," the release said.
As noted in the press release, the US federal tax code contains more than 74,000 pages and sees thousands of changes each year. Teams from both H&R Block and IBM worked to train Watson in the "language of tax," the release said, by looking at commonly asked questions and topics that regularly come up during the filing process.
H&R Block experts examined and validated the first phase of Watson's training. Over time, the release said, Watson's knowledge base will continue to grow with each new tax season that it participates in.
With this new partnership, IBM Watson could very well reach more than 1 billion people worldwide by the end of this year, the release noted.
The new Watson experience will be available at H&R Block retail locations starting on Sunday, February 5, and the company will announce the partnership via a commercial during the during first quarter of the Super Bowl.
The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers
- IBM Watson is teaming up with H&R Block to offer cognitive computing services to help with tax preparation this year.
- Watson will work alongside tax preparers to help find all available credits and deductions, and to limit liabilities on behalf of the customer.
- The partnership will be announced during the Super Bowl, and the new experience will be available at H&R Block starting on Sunday, February 5.
- IBM launches Watson Discovery Service for big data analytics at scale (TechRepublic)
- IBM Watson: What are companies using it for? (ZDNet)
- MIT students and others teaching IBM Watson about cybersecurity (TechRepublic)
- IBM and BMW want Watson to help drive your car (ZDNet)
- IBM Watson, FDA to use blockchain tech to build secure exchange for health data (TechRepublic)
Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.