The IRS Launches The “IRS Tax Design Challenge” to Improve UX

The IRS Launches The “Tax Design Challenge” to Improve UX

It isn’t everyday you hear the words ‘IRS’ and ‘user experience’ in the same sentence, but in light of The Internal Revenue Service’s announcing its “Tax Design Challenge”, the time has come. Through a new initiative in the form of a crowdsourcing contest, the IRS hopes to encourage innovative ideas to improve the taxpayer experience with its crowdsourcing competition. This is a part of an overall emerging trend of governmental entities joining the digital revolution, offering an easy access to information and services to all citizens, even those who are not as technologically savvy as others.  

It’s All About The UX

With the right incentive the IRS, together with the Mortgage Bankers Association who also jumped on board, hopes to make paying taxes and finding the relevant information much easier. They hope the winning idea will not only give better and simpler access to information, but also allow the IRS to get user feedback and constantly optimize user experience at a relatively lower cost.    

A First Time For Everything

The IRS knows well that user experience is not listed under its employers expertise, and so they cleverly chose to launch an open challenge to citizens and businesses. “Crowdsourcing is a new activity for the IRS” said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “But we believe working with citizens and the private sector will help support innovation in an important area for the nation’s tax system.” Koskinen went on to say that 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 IRS will be administering the following prizes, contestants will be able to win multiple awards:
  • Overall Design—$10,000 (1st), and $5,000 (2nd).
  • Best Taxpayer Usefulness—$2,000 (1st), and $1,000 (2nd).
  • Best Financial Capability—$2,000 (1st), and $1,000 (2nd)
  For $10,000, I might consider giving them my two cents (pun intended) on the subject as well.  
Megan Wilson is user experience specialist & editor of UX Motel. She is also the Quality Assurance and UX Specialist at WalkMe Megan.w(at)