Tax Chat! Registration Now Open
— Artificial Intelligence and Tax Administration —
A Conversation with DigiTax

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Dear Friends,

Registration is now open for the March session of Tax Chat!, which will be held on Tuesday, 16 March, 2021 at noon EST/16:00 GMT/17:00 CET.  The topic for this month’s Tax Chat! is Artificial Intelligence and Taxpayer Rights.  Registration for the TaxChat! is free but you need to sign up here in order to receive the link to the session.

Our guests for this conversation are:

  • Toon Calders, Department of Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Antwerp
  • Sylvie De Raedt, Research Manager, DigiTax, University of Antwerp
  • David Martens, Department of Engineering Management, University of Antwerp, and
  • Anne Van de Vijver, Associate Professor of Tax Law, University of Antwerp

All of our guests are members from DigiTax, a Centre of Excellence within the University of Antwerp.  DigiTax is an interdisciplinary team of about 25 researchers, including lawyers, economists, psychologists, and computer scientists, who explore the challenges and opportunities that digitalization brings to tax.   

In this Tax Chat! we will explore, among other topics, the right to fairness and non-discrimination in the application of artificial intelligence by tax authorities, and the right to transparency on the application of artificial intelligence by the tax authorities.  We’ll discuss how artificially intelligent algorithms may unintentionally discriminate against certain groups, looking at this from a legal/ethical perspective, and then explore the technological possibilities to develop ethical rules in data mining algorithms to guarantee fair and unbiased decisions.   We’ll also discuss the right to transparency from the legal perspective as well as the technological possibilities for creating “explainability” in AI, so as not to have a “black box” approach that erodes trust and fosters noncompliance.

We’ll begin our discussion by reviewing the Hague District Court’s decision regarding the System Risk Indicator (SyRI), a program used by the Dutch government to detect various forms of fraud, including social benefits, allowances and tax fraud.  As the link below explains “[t]he court found the legislation does not comply with Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights (ECHR), which protects the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence.”  You can read about the case here.

DigiTax has been conducting a series on online lectures on Taxpayers’ Fundamental Rights in a Digitised Society.  You can sign up here for the last lecture in the series, Data Collection in a Digitized Society and Taxpayers’ Rights, on Tuesday, 23 March 2021 at 2 pm CET.

We will chat about these and many other issues implicated by the use of machine learning and data mining in tax administration.  I hope to see you online.

All the best,

Nina

Nina E. Olson
Executive Director

Interested in some additional reading?  In December, 2020, the Administrative Conference of the United States (ACUS) adopted recommendations for Agency Use of Artificial Intelligence.  You can read the final recommendation here.  In preparing the recommendation, ACUS commissioned two reports, below.

Cary Coglianese, Report for the Administrative Conference of the United States: A Framework for Governmental Use of Machine Learning (2020).

David Freeman-Engstrom, Daniel E. Ho, Catherine Sharkey, Mariano-Florentino Cuéllar, Report for the Administrative Conference of the United States: Government by Algorithm: Artificial Intelligence in Federal Administrative Agencies and Appendix (2020).