IRS has 37,000 webpages. About 2% get nearly all of its traffic

The IRS is tapping into billions of dollars in multi-year modernization funds to provide a higher level of customer service to taxpayers.

 The IRS website includes tens of thousands of pages, but nearly all of its web traffic goes to a small fraction of those pages.

The agency maintains about 37,200 total web pages — of which 26,600 are web pages written in English. The rest are translations in other languages. chief Angela Render said about 85% of visitors go to the agency’s top 100 English-language pages, and another 12% of traffic goes to the 900 next-most popular pages.

“The first thing you might start to think is, ‘Well, if [1,000] pages satisfy 97% of the people coming to the site, why do we have the rest? Can’t we get rid of those?’ And the answer is that we have to serve everyone. We can’t pick our verticals like a business would,” Render said Tuesday during a virtual event hosted by ACT-IAC.

About 51% of the IRS’ web traffic comes from mobile devices, and 59% of users access IRS web pages through online searches.

Among its current priorities, the IRS is tapping into billions of dollars in multi-year modernization funds to provide a higher level of customer service to taxpayers — including making its website easier to navigate.

“One thing we do know about our visitors is that they are there to complete a task. People do not come to for entertainment or to socialize. They are focused and if they’re not tax professionals, attorneys or the media, they may be scared and frustrated also,” Render said.

More than half of the IRS’ online audience reads at a sixth-grade level or lower. About 88% consider a top source for tax advice, and about 47% of taxpayers report feeling anxious when they receive any notice from the IRS.

“ is one of those rare digital experiences that must serve all American taxpayers, whether individual business or tax professional, across all demographics and business types,” Render said.

To make the IRS website easier to use, the is holding focus groups with certain demographics, such a first-time filers, to understand their challenges navigating the website.

Based on this group’s feedback, Render said the IRS recently rewrote content on some of its top 11 webpages — which draw about 712 million pageviews each year — to appear at the top search engine results, and added nine new pages to “to fill significant content gaps, as illustrated by high search volume with poor results in external search engines.”

Within a month, the 20 rewritten or new pages drew more than 103 million views — nearly 28% of all traffic coming to Six of the new pages at the top 500 most viewed on and five more were in the top 1,000.

Karen Howard, director of the IRS Office of Online Services, said the agency is expanding its recruiting efforts across the country.

“The website is 24/4. We don’t want to overwork our existing talent, but we also want to expand and recruit from areas that have really good talent, that can help address the dynamic nature of the digital needs of the organization,” Howard said.

Howard said the IRS is also taking steps to address is tech “talent gap.”

“As the technology evolves, as tech players evolve, we have to make sure the understanding of evolution and that we have the talent and the skills — whether it’s upskilling, whether reskilling —to be able to address the needs of the taxpayer evolving and transforming in a in a more real- time manner,” she said.

As the IRS rolls out new technology to benefit taxpayers, Howard said the agency is also taking steps to ensure IRS employees also have the tools they need to do their jobs.

“There’s a saying — if the employees isn’t having a good experience, you can’t expect that to happen at the customer experience level,” Howard said. “The user experience team spends a lot of time working with our internal call center teams and recently did a huge study trying to understand some of the journeys that employees go through, so that we can better design and improve design on some of our existing applications.”

Among those tools, the IRS is using artificial intelligence to improve its digital experience.

Render said the IRS can use AI to reduce time spent on certain tasks, such as qualitative data analysis. AI can also assess content on the IRS website against governmentwide standards, or review conversations between a taxpayer and a chatbot that require an IRS employee to intervene.

“We understand that AI is not a magic wand that will relieve us of the responsibility of monitoring and improving our content, Render said. “I don’t see AI and technology as a replacement for a human, but rather as a toll that will allow us to address content more efficiently.”

Render said the IRS is already fielding AI technology, in the form of chatbots and voice bots.

“While AI happens to be on everybody’s minds right now, it’s not new technology,” Render said.

Render said the IRS, “for a number of years,” has used AI to look through call center logs and identify patterns.

“We reviewed call center logs to understand what people call about and then use this information to see if the information available on the website is findable and useful. This uncovered many pain points. That’s not to say we don’t want people to call, there are many instances where the call is important. What we don’t want is a situation where people must call when they don’t have to. A lot of people would like to just take care of things on their own time. And we should support this,” she said.

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