Is HMRC planning on using robots to check tax returns?

In recent weeks, it has emerged that HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) is investigating new ways in which robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) could be used to check the accuracy of tax returns.

Brigid McBride, Digital Transformation Director at HMRC, has indicated that the tax authority is experimenting with new and innovative ways in which the latest technology can be implemented into its existing systems.

Speaking at a recent IT conference in London, Ms McBride revealed that HMRC had been “dipping its toe” in AI with a view to improving efficiency and determining how robotics and AI might be able to assist with “compliance and complex tax cases.”

Ms McBride also confirmed that HMRC had so far been successful in using “simple robotics technology” in the form of “a virtual assistant called Rita.”

“We use a lot of new channels like social media to help deal with simple queries,” she said.

“The pace of change is not slowing, the demands of our customers are growing, and our customers are moving towards self-employment.

“The real challenge is building an organisation that can absorb that change and adapt to it,” she said.

At the conference, Ms McBride indicated that the tax authority hoped to automate as many as 10 million of its processes by the end of 2018.