Completion Date: 09/30/2023
1st Quarter: The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) continued working on activities to adopt emerging options for digital interactions with customers to reduce burden and gain efficiencies. These include drafting a plan to test a variation on the Documentation Upload Tool (DUT) that adds the ability for Taxpayer Facing Employees (TPFE) to generate a unique code to give to customers. The team plans to implement the test in a limited number of TAS offices in time for the filing season. Also, we are developing a project related to digitized forms starting with the Form 911, Request for Taxpayer Advocate Assistance (And Application for Taxpayer Assistance order). Further, the TAS request for IRS to publish the new TAS Virtual Assistant (VA) was completed by the vendor on December 2, 2022. Additionally, TAS’ partnered with IRS’ Online Services function to present technology options to other TAS executives as part of the planning for service improvements. The functions then held a strategic planning meetings and will collaborate in the second quarter for potential adoption of interactive chat.
In the second quarter, TAS will evaluate the benefit of the possible secure, two-way communications with taxpayers capability over other options such as encrypted e-mail attachments and DUT. The digital communication project has several priorities absorbing their capacity for new work, including integration with Online Accounts, followed by integration with Enterprise Case Management, and Taxpayer Journey Mapping. Lastly, funding for the Case Status Advisor position is still pending.
2nd Quarter: TAS continued to adopt emerging options for digital interactions with customers to reduce burden and gain efficiencies through several activities during the second quarter of 2023 including evaluating options for electronic communications with taxpayers, including increased adoption of the Documentation Upload Tool (DUT) and the variant DUT for Taxpayer Facing Employees (TPFE), IRS approved funding for updates to the Systemic Advocacy Management System (SAMS) to better align SAMS workflows with large increases in submissions of concerns or recommendations for IRS process and policy issues, met with Online Accounts and TDC to identify processes for business case submission and prioritization, completed its analysis of the intake process and delivered its initial recommendations to the NTA and other TAS senior leadership, and published a Virtual Assistant (VA) on the Taxpayer Advocate website.
The VA is designed to help taxpayers apply TAS case acceptance criteria in a user-friendly series of questions. More than 8,000 customers navigated through a chat and reached a knowledge article. Additional enhancements, such as interactive chat, are pending additional analysis of the business need and opportunities and the role of live agent interactions with the chat feature remain pending TAS evaluation of the role of Intake in future telephone operations.
3rd Quarter: During the third quarter, TAS closed the Document Upload Tool (DUT) pilot and formally implemented DUT for all offices and for use with all cases, including as a tool for collecting documentation during case intake. We continued to improve our case acceptance process by collecting and evaluating data for the evaluation of the chatbot we implemented in the second quarter and analysis of Intake operations is being finalized, with results to inform further efforts on the use of unauthenticated live chat for case intake.
We continued our collaboration with the Enterprise Case Management (ECM) office to modernize system capabilities and noted that TAS processes are not listed among ECM deliverables identified through FY2025. However, we will continue to monitor ECM for opportunities to use additional features such as, for example, the Return Case tax return utility or the Tax Calculators may be made available for general use and benefit. Further, we are participating in Taxpayer Digital Communication (TDC) pre-planning for a Secure Messaging option for TAS cases, anticipating work to begin in FY2024. TAS also began plans for expanding the topics addressed on our non-authenticated bot.
Funding for development of a “Where’s My Case” status tracker for TAS cases to allow taxpayers to receive information on their cases was denied and we are tabling our work until new funding or technology alternatives become available.
4th Quarter: During the fourth quarter, the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) deployed the TAS Virtual Assistant and continued to explore areas to expand content and functionality. We will continue to assess options for expansion based on available information and business readiness as necessary.
This objective is closed.