Exactly Wat(son) you need for filing taxes
In February 2017, an innovative man-machine partnership was announced that revolutionized the tax filing industry. H&R Block, which was founded more than 60 years ago, introduced a new, exclusive, consumer-facing experience that incorporates IBM Watson into their tax filing workflow. The tax technology from IBM is used by H&R Block’s tax professionals during the tax season to help them deliver the best outcome for each unique tax situation for each client. In addition, clients benefit by increasing their understanding of how different filing options can impact their tax outcome.
H&R Block was founded in 1955 by brothers Henry and Richard Bloch. The Bloch brothers started their business in Kansas City with the goal of offering cheap, one-stop-shop tax services for local businesses. The Bloch brothers worked hard to benefit local business owners by looking at their life through the lens of tax preparation and finding ways to increase the business’s tax return. The idea caught on quickly and by 1962 the company had gone public. Since then, H&R Block has processed over 720 million tax returns and operates company-owned and franchise retail locations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, on U.S. military bases internationally and around the world. The H&R Block brand has become synonymous with innovation and advanced tax preparation. This can be seen with the company’s digital tax return solutions that incorporate cognitive computing technology. This allows H&R Block to offer unbeatable, personalized tax services. Moreover, the company engages in philanthropic activities through the H&R Block Foundation. In Kansas City along, $3 million in grants were provided to nonprofit organization in the fields of neighborhood revitalization, health and human services, and education.
IBM Watson was developed about a decade ago as a question-answering computer system capable of responding to questions in the language they were posed. The technology was initially tested on the game-show Jeopardy against the two greatest Jeopardy champions of all time and soundly beat both of them. Today, Watson can incorporate advanced natural language processing, information retrieval, knowledge representation, automated reasoning, and machine learning technologies, enabling it to power an almost endless number of applications.
Using Watson’s AI-based capabilities, H&R Block can ensure that those filing taxes receive as many tax deductions as they can legally qualify for via Watson’s understanding of the US tax code. The US tax code is extensive and, has no less than 74,000 pages. Moreover the US tax code is updated every year. Customers benefit from Watson’s ability to provide Deep Insights built from over 600 million data points. As H&R Block’s tax professionals use this new tax technology, the platform learns from each interaction, getting smarter and more proficient, enabling the partnership to deliver highly personalized tax solutions.
According to Bill Cobb, H&R Block’s President and Chief Executive Officer, “By combining the human expertise, knowledge and judgment of our tax professionals with the cutting-edge cognitive computing power of Watson, we are creating a future where our clients will benefit from an enhanced experience and our tax pros will have the latest technology to help them ensure every deduction and credit is found. This partnership with Watson means we can leverage the best tax technology available to help our clients get their taxes won.”
H&R Block’s use of the Watson AI platform to maximize the tax returns of millions of their customers is just one demonstration of how complex, data-rich industries can significantly benefit from the power of cognitive computing.
These types of technology advancements are being harnessed in the area of indirect tax as well. Corporate entities, with extensive travel expenses, can harness of the power of a similar AI platform to maximize their indirect tax expenses by automatically extracting data from every single T&E invoice. Based on its proprietary AI-based platform, VATBox is an automated, enterprise-wide, cloud-based VAT recovery solution that handles reports, data collection, aggregation, qualification, submissions and the complexities that accompany these processes using a fully automated approach.
VATBox, a leader in the VAT recovery marketplace, has successfully streamlined the global VAT recovery process, providing businesses with unrivaled visibility, compliance, and data integrity, and ultimately boosting its bottom line.
Founded in 2012, VATBox implements the highest level of data security and compliance with all international rules and regulations of the various jurisdictions, and offers companies 360⁰ visibility into their VAT spend and recovery. As a privately-held company, VATBox’s technological breakthrough has raised USD $50M in private equity funding and attracted a large portfolio of Fortune 500 clients, including Dell, PPG, Monsanto, Teva Pharmaceuticals, 3M, Eli Lilly, and many others.
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