TaxBot Promises Five-Minute Tax Returns Over Facebook Messenger

Image: TaxBot

We're getting to that time of the year when we're thinking about submitting our tax returns and, hopefully, scoring a nice little refund. But, sometimes, the cost of getting your return done and the time it takes puts us off. If you trust Facebook Messenger, TaxBot offers a quick and easy solution for people who have simple tax returns.

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The end of the financial year is approaching and that can only mean one thing; it’s nearly time to lodge your tax return. Now is a great time to take stock of all the money you’ve spent on work-related items during the course of the year. The question is, are you claiming everything you’re entitled to?

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“Looking at ABS data, we found approximately 40 percent of Australian’s tax returns are ‘simple’. This demographic is unmarried, they don’t have investments, and have less than $300 of work related expenses,” says inGenious AI Head of Conversational Design and TaxBot CEO Andi Chatterton.

TaxBot doesn't need any paperwork. All you need to give it is your Tax File Number and bank account details. The company said security is the highest priority.

Chatterton says "We source users’ data directly from the ATO in real time, ensuring it’s accurate and secure. Additionally, we’ve developed a system that securely collects user’s information, so Facebook doesn’t have access to the user’s personal data at any point".

While the focus for this year is on simple returns, the company plans to enhance the AI (artificial intelligence) they use to deal with more complex returns next year.

When you look at a simple tax return, once you provide your income and deductions, there's not a lot more data needed. So, filling in the form by hand is relatively straightforward, if not time consuming. And you can complete your return online through the ATO's <a href="https://www.ato.gov.au/Individuals/Lodging-your-tax-return/Lodge-online/myTax system, which will even have pre-filled in some of the information if you're not in a hurry and can wait a little while.

The use of AI or machine learning based bots isn't new. They're common on many websites where you ask a "virtual agent" for help or information and some software interprets your request and then either answers you directly it directs you to some more information. That's great when you're looking for a new pair of shoes of looking for insurance. But it's a big leap to providing, arguably, two of the most personal pieces of personal data you might have.

So, it's really a question of trust.

You can access TaxBot to register for a notification to lodge their tax once your employer has submitted their group certificate, afterJuly 7, at a flat rate of $20. This fee can be claimed as a tax deduction the following yea and you can score a $5 discount by sharing the bot with friends.


Comments

    Additionally, we’ve developed a system that securely collects user’s information, so Facebook doesn’t have access to the user’s personal data at any point".

    Doesn't FB messenger store all messages? Sounds very insecure to me. The latest methods for lodging returns from myATO are so simple you're stupid not to at least give it a try yourself.

      Think of what Cambridge anaylitica could do with survey response queries, and these people want you to send all your tax and earnings info over FB?

        I'm not sure what the connection Cambridge Anaytica is here?

          A casual one at best, just people where concerned about random messages of all sorts being accessible, I wouldn't imagine the info in these messages is something they'd want being collected.
          TBH I don't use FB so I'm not fully aware of the details of messenger, just my understanding was that it was discovered that people's message history was being stored?

            I do recognise that you pointed out that issues in your article, so it's really up to the individual to decide. Personally I found it incredibly simple doing it myself through the ATO part of myGov (once I finally got signed up) so not really a concern of mine :)

              Thanks for explaining. I agree that there are other ways that are quite simple as well.

      i agree, we did my wifes returns via ato website the last 2 years, i did mine last year as my return became simple enough (pretty much as simple as income - work from home deductions at 45cph), it brings in private health insurance info automatically (except for one value i think from memory), and i think it even took care of the interest from our joint account correctly (I THINK).

      They could make it easier by having a work from home section to automatically add those deductions for you instead of trying to fit it into their limited fields (if i recall i had to contact ATO online help last year to figure out where to put it).

      SO these simple returns companies are kinda pointless, simple returns take a few mins via ato site.

      You're right, Facebook stores all messages. But the article says they've got a secure way to look after private data. Messenger has a feature called a webview that isn't accessible by FB as it's hosted elsewhere (usually by the company that built the webview). I'd say that's how they're doing it. Doubt anyone would build something like this and let Facebook see all the data.

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