TurboTax Adds AI That Gives Horribly Wrong Answers to Tax Questions

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“I feel that my job as a tax professional is very secure.”

Wrong Again

Tax season is upon us, and so too is the onslaught of bad financial advice — which now can be automated with AI!

As the Washington Post reports, both TurboTax and H&R Block have hopped into the generative AI game with chatbots that are theoretically supposed to help people answer difficult tax questions.

Put to the test, however, the bots weren’t up to snuff, and in some cases even gave “advice” that could result in a freakin’ IRS audit.

When WaPo‘s Geoffrey Fowler asked TurboTax’s “Intuit Assist” chatbot where his kid should file taxes if they attend college out of state, it responded with completely irrelevant answers about credits and extensions. H&R Block’s version, called “AI Tax Assist,” claimed incorrectly that the college student should file in both states when they should only file in the state where they earned income.

What’s worse, when the reporter asked the H&R Block tax bot about whether a filer has to report a specific type of cryptocurrency transaction known as a “wash sale” that ultimately nets the buyer zero, the chatbot claimed that the IRS had not yet offered any guidance. That’s just plain wrong, Fowler writes: the agency has stated that its crypto wash sale rules don’t apply to taxes, meaning it’s not necessary to report them when filing.

Overall, the bots were wrong a shockingly high percentage of the time: TurboTax’s got more than half of the questions the reporter asked it wrong, and H&R Block’s gave incorrect answers to 30 percent of the questions posed to it.

Work in Progress

To figure out just how bad the situation was, WaPo spoke to tax consultants from the wealth management firm EP Wealth Advisors — and those experts were, to put it mildly, smug.

“I feel that my job as a tax professional is very secure,” quipped Beverly Goodman, one of the firm’s tax managers, when interviewed about the tax software’s crummy AI advice.

When the companies in question were reached for comment, meanwhile, they appeared to work at fixing the chatbots’ answers — but as Fowler points out, both AI tax assistants still spat out wrong or irrelevant information after their respective patches.

“Is it perfect, no,” an H&R Block spokesperson told the reporter. “Will it ever be, probably not. Mainly because we have a very complicated taxation system with ambiguous wording.”

As with everything else AI, both H&R Block and TurboTax also offered fine print disclaimers underneath their chatbots warning people that their answers might be wrong — which kinda defeats the whole purpose, right?

More on bad AI advice: Microsoft Copilot Tells User Suicide Is an Option

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