Ken Corbin, Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer, says that "not everyone wants to interact with the government, and I can tell you today, not everyone wants to interact with the IRS either.” But Corbin aims to transform the IRS customer experience through enhanced digital capabilities and robust community partnership.
The IRS’s strategic plan to improve customer experience is driven by two core principles: choice and access.
“We have to build the bridges so that people are able to access what they need; and in a time and manner in which they are accustomed to,” Corbin said at FWC’s customer experience summit on Wednesday.
In order to ensure that the IRS is engaging all taxpayers, the service is creating multiple pathways for customers to access relevant information. The IRS’s outreach efforts are designed to break down digital divides and engage people with varied technology access and experience.
“There are trusted community partners out there that can help promote good tax administration,” Corbin said. “A good example was during the economic impact payments that were distributed during the pandemic. We had to establish new relationships with homeless shelters and other nonprofits so that we could get information and communication out there. But the key learning from that is that the community trusted those who they saw. They trusted their pastor, they trusted their teacher, they trusted the director of the homeless shelter.”
The agency has also expanded its multilingual communications and services.
“Part of making sure access works is that we at the IRS have to build communication tools available for those partners to be able to use readily and easily,” Corbin said. “Part of what we have to build are the digital tools for our partners that they can use to facilitate the actions needed by a taxpayer.”
As part of the IRS’s taxpayer experience roadmap, the agency plans to expand its digital services. It will establish a new online account program for individual taxpayers, taxpayer professionals, and businesses. These accounts will provide tax records, IRS communications, and information on any balances in a taxpayer's or business's account.
The IRS also plans to deploy chatbots that use AI to answer customer questions, as well as streamlining the customer help lines to cut down on wait times.
Over the next few years, Corbin expects to see significant improvement in the taxpayer experience.
“Our goal, where I want us to be in four years, I want us to answer the phone,” Corbin said. “I want us to process the returns timely. I want us to have more digital content in a way that's accessible to anyone who needs it. In four or five years, I want the headline to say, 'The IRS is hiring in rural America and providing opportunities for Americans across the country and promoting access in multiple languages in a way that people want it.' That's what we want.”