IRS Crowdsources Future of the Taxpayer Experience

The taxman is counting on the wisdom of crowds.

The Internal Revenue Service on Wednesday announced it is launching a crowdsourcing competition to “encourage innovative ideas for the taxpayer experience of the future.”

From April 17 through May 10, the agency will be taking submissions from designers, developers and “innovative thinkers” who attempt to design an online experience that better organizes and presents a person’s tax information, the agency said. “The goal is to make it easier for a person to manage their tax responsibilities, and use their own tax data to make informed and effective decisions about their personal finances,” the agency stated.

Authorized under the 2007 America COMPETES Reauthorization Act, the IRS competition is among some 660 prize competitions that have been offered governmentwide, the agency said.

“Crowdsourcing is a new activity for the IRS, but we believe working with citizens and the private sector will help support innovation in an important area for the nation's tax system,” Internal Revenue Commissioner John Koskinen said. “The Tax Design Challenge reflects our commitment to find the best ideas and plan for a future state of tax administration that works well for taxpayers and our partners.”

The competition, planned in coordination and with funding from the Mortgage Bankers Association, will afford participants the opportunity to “engage with policy experts and a network of mentors that includes world-class strategists and designers from government and non-government organizations,” the IRS said.

Winning designs picked by a review panel will be showcased in an online gallery. Prizes (taxable) will be given for Overall Design—$10,000 (1st) and $5,000 (2nd); Best Taxpayer Usefulness—$2,000 (1st) and $1,000 (2nd); and Best Financial Capability—$2,000 (1st) and $1,000 (2nd).

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