IBM Watson wants to do your tax returns

If anyone can make sense of the over 74,000 pages of the US tax code, IBM’s Watson can. Or at least that’s the plan as Big Blue has teamed up its Watson cognitive supercomputer with the tax return specialists at H&R Block to help customers with tax filing options.

As part of the first phase of the collaboration, H&R Block and IBM development teams trained tax language Watson, first applying the technology to the myriad questions and topics discussed during the return filing process.

The service uses cloud-based Watson services to understand context, interpret intent and draw connections between clients’ statements and relevant areas of their return, the companies said.

IBM said that Watson’s initial training was validated by H&R Block tax experts – who have filed some 720 million returns since 1955 — and the initial corpus will expand over time through each subsequent tax season. During the next phase, H&R Block tax professionals will work with IBM to continue teaching Watson all about the tax code and apply the technology to innovate in other areas of their business.

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