Taxman out, taxbot in

Welcome to the future, where staying out of trouble depends on how well you can impress the government’s artificial intelligence (AI) tools.

Driving the news: Governments worldwide are boosting their efficiency by leaning on AI to investigate violations across social security, legal, and tax systems. As technology advances and the world becomes more digitized, AI will make it harder to get away with, well, anything.

  • For instance, tax authorities, in the US and India, can aggregate citizens’ retail data, payment history, browsing data, tax payment history, and information from social media to detect tax evasion, fraud, identity theft, money laundering, or hidden assets.

Why it matters: AI can recognize patterns in heaps of data so quickly that investigations that would have taken weeks to complete manually now take minutes. The tools could eventually become so good that they could predict where the next fraud is likely to appear. 

In Canada: Since 2017, the government has been looking into how AI can make or support administrative decisions. The list of official suppliers that can provide the government with “responsible and effective” AI services, solutions, and products includes 117 companies.  

Bottom line: AI makes it harder to break the rules, but it doesn’t stop people from hiding under mountains of digital data. Plus, several agencies have faced backlash for using AI, including US child protective services and (most notably) the Danish tax authority.—SB