Project

Mobile application that speeds up completion and reduces human error on German tax declarations

Client

Taxando

Prototype ready in 6 weeks

Accuracy over 99,2%

Processing of a single document in less than 12 seconds

Client

Tax return online App

Taxando is a German technology firm focused on tax reporting. The firm helps businesses and individuals file tax returns more efficiently by clarifying what they must declare when completing forms, all but eliminating the risk of people falling foul of German tax law.

THE PROBLEM

Reduce the time taken to complete a tax declaration and eliminate input errors.

 

A large percentage of the German workforce works on a contract, part-time or casual basis. They often struggle to understand the intricacies of German tax law. But they, like German businesses, must complete a tax declaration every year.

The situation means that many people in Germany are left completing tax declarations ‘in mere hope’ they’ve added the correct detail in every field. But it’s all too easy to make a mistake. Most will not know if the fields are correctly filled in until the report is processed and a response is received from the tax office.

It’s led to a burgeoning tax advice industry in Germany. However, it’s costly to pay a specialist to take the burden of completing a tax declaration. Moreover, tax counselors are equally liable to make mistakes: they’re only human, after all.

Even small mistakes — a typo in the tax identification, an incorrect income value — can have catastrophic financial consequences for the declarer:

  • The tax office can charge a substantial fine for the smallest of errors
  • Authorities can demand payment of outstanding tax (including accrued interest)
  • Fiscal proceedings are not unheard of, potentially lasting years at exorbitant cost

The risks of a mistake are a grave concern to every entity. Worse, declarations sent by post to the revenue office are at risk themselves, either to damage or loss — highlighting how the woes don’t abate until the declaration is signed off.

THE SOLUTION

Build a simple app powered by machine learning and neural networks to automate tax filing.

 

Taxando felt there was only one way to tackle the problem: artificial intelligence. The firm partnered with DLabs.AI to design and build an intuitive web and mobile application using the latest machine learning technologies and neural networks.

The application works across iOS and Android devices. It automates the majority of the tax filing process, meaning it takes less time to complete a return while there’s a much lower risk of human error.

Better still, both individual workers, as well as multinational corporations, can use the technology — with the solution comprising three core elements:

1. Automated Tax Card Processing

The app still offers the option to fill in forms manually. However, the project aimed to eliminate the risk of human error while speeding up the process. Therefore, DLabs.AI introduced an ‘automatic tax card processing’ feature.

Users take a picture of their tax card or share an electronic version of it with the app, and the Taxando system processes the data on the reporter’s behalf.

It takes just 13 seconds for the app to extract data from the tax card, identifying 93% of information across fields. The system automatically inputs the data into the tax declaration and offers an intuitive interface to make it easy for users to track progress.

In its first year, the application has processed over 10,000 tax cards.

2. Descriptions And Validation

The application had to make it simple for users to file tax reports. Taxando decided to add a clear field description at every step so that users can understand precisely what information each field requires, removing any doubts around input accuracy.



Input validation
 and specific feedback across all fields — based on the official tax office guidelines — further support the idea of clarity and simplicity.

3. Tax Calculator

A tax calculator automatically calculates the user’s tax position. It then confirms any refund due or if further payment is required. The tax calculator provides a value as soon as the user inputs data into the first field and auto-updates as the user completes subsequent steps on the form.

ADDITIONAL FEATURES

Multi-lingual Support

The app is available in three languages — German, English, and Polish — while users can switch between languages without  refreshing the page or reloading the app.

Additional Business Support

Additional features help business clients save time by listing new tax returns based on uploaded tax cards. The system can recognize filing requirements straight from documents and guide accounting departments through each application, one after another.

Industry Standard Security

The application uses robust cryptographic techniques to ensure absolute privacy and data security, both in communications with Taxando services as well as with the tax office. Thanks to this, there’s no need to send documents by post, as the tax office can notify users of its response or decision right within the app.

  

Technologies used

Python

Django

Pandas

Angular 5+

ES6

Keras

TensorFlow

Docker

OpenCV

Nginx

Ansible

Tesseract

  

The path to success

Step 1: Remove manual labor

First, we prepared a tool to automate data extraction and reporting, thus eliminating the manual work in preparing a tax return.

Step 2: Automate processes and reporting

We created a system using machine learning, OCR, and text analysis to help the tax office speed up its tax filing workflow

Step 3: Create a platform for private clients

We then built a platform for private users (also based on OCR as the first iteration)

Given typical clients don’t upload photos of sufficient quality to process, we used an Onfido implementation

See it in action

  

CLIENTS OPINION

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We worked with DLabs.AI in 2017 on a tax return app and we’re very happy with the results. We were impressed by the DLabs team and their high level of professionalism, expertise, and consideration. They took the time to listen to and understand our company’s needs and issues. Throughout the process, we felt more like one team. It was very easy to communicate and work together.

Maciej Szewczyk, Taxando GmbH

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