H&R Block AI Tax Assist (Product Review)

MAA1
3 min readJan 4, 2024

My summary of H&R Block AI Tax Assist before using it — A few months ago, I wrote about Harvey, a product that uses AI to provide legal support. I expect H&R Block AI Tax Assist to do the same for taxpayers.

How does H&R Block AI Tax Assist explain itself in the first minute? “Get personalised tax support with AI Tax Assist or connect with a live tax pro when you need expert help” reads the copy on H&R Block’s website.

Image Credit: screenshot

It’s not immediately clear to me how AI Tax Assist works, but I understand that H&R Block has launched a conversational AI chatbot that answers taxpayer questions.

How does H&R Block AI Tax Assist work? I wasn’t able to try H&R Block’s AI Tax Assist myself (the chatbot is only available through paid version of H&R Block tax software) but I understand that the tool can engage with users about topics like tax deductions, new tax laws and tax refunds. As you’d expect, the chatbot is conversational, and users can refer back to previous conversations. Routing is built in so that users can always get help from a human tax adviser if required.

When I look at TurboTax’ AI equivalent, “Intuit Assist”, I like how TurboTax’ chatbot handles user onboarding, goes through a checklist to understand the user’s tax profile and then hands the user off to a real-live professional who will file the user’s tax return (discussing things through a video call).

The risk with tools like H&R Block AI Tax Assist and Intuit Assist is that they might serve mostly community generated content or search results that wrong or incomplete. H&R Block’s AI Tax Assist, for example, has been built on OpenAI’s ChatGpT and is therefore dependent on OpenAI’s LLMs. To mitigate this dependency and the risks of wrong content, H&R Block trains its chatbot with knowledge from The Tax Institute, H&R Block’s in-house centre of tax expertise; a group of professional tax attorneys, CPAs, and tax agents.

Main learning point: It feels to me that delivering a chatbot that integrates with H&R Block (or TurboTax) is only the first iteration of tax support. The bot currently answers taxpayer questions, builds out the user profile and then hands over to a tax adviser. Will the bot eventually take over from the tax software or adviser completely? What will the business model for such a solution look like? I feel that products like H&R Block AI Tax Assist are only the beginning of an AI-driven evolution of professional services.

Related links for further learning:

  1. https://www.theverge.com/2023/12/14/24000368/hr-block-taxes-generative-ai-openai-microsoft
  2. https://resource-center.hrblock.com/newsroom/innovation/new-ai-tax-assist-diy/
  3. https://mashable.com/article/hr-block-generative-ai-chatbot-tax-questions
  4. https://www.zdnet.com/article/h-r-block-introduces-ai-chatbot-that-will-answer-your-complex-tax-questions/
  5. https://blog.turbotax.intuit.com/breaking-news/tax-preparation-powered-by-gen-ai-59318/
  6. https://www.zdnet.com/article/even-turbotax-is-adding-an-ai-tool-heres-what-intuit-assist-can-do-for-you/
  7. https://investors.intuit.com/news/news-details/2023/Introducing-Intuit-Assist-The-Generative-AI-Powered-Financial-Assistant-for-Small-Businesses-and-Consumers/default.aspx

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MAA1

Product person, author of "My Product Management Toolkit" and “Managing Product = Managing Tension” — see https://bit.ly/3gH2dOD.