The Internal Revenue Service answers more than 36 million calls per year on its toll-free help line. But with well over 100 tax topics covered in reams of official publications, it's easy to see why only 64% of the calls are answered correctly. This year, however, taxpayers who call IRS help lines in Boston and Philadelphia may do better, thanks to "intelligent" computer software based on Information Builders Inc.'s Level5 expert programming system.
After typing key words of an inquiry, such as "dependent," into a personal computer, the Taxpayer Service Expert Assistant System (TSEAS) prompts the worker to ask the caller a series of questions. Using the knowledge of experienced IRS specialists, TSEAS can then deduce the correct answer for specific cases from its data base of rules and regulations. The IRS says tests of a limited prototype system conducted last year at the Boston call site produced a 79% accuracy rate.