Three Questions with… Jamil Khan, H&R Block

a16z Fintech Team


This content first appeared in the February 2024 Fintech newsletter. If you’d like more commentary and analysis about news and trends from the a16z Fintech team, you can subscribe here.


“The amount of innovation we’re about to see in tax is unparalleled in recent history,” says Jamil Khan, the Chief Strategy and Small Business Officer for tax giant H&R Block. “But we know that with something like tax, having a trusted human checking, monitoring, making sure things are right, is key. Since we already have the human talent, we’re also now investing in the technology.”

Since joining H&R Block five years ago, Khan has been focused on helping the company grow not only its leadership in the field of assisted tax prep, but also its small business and financial products segments. In today’s environment, that can only mean one thing: investing in AI.

We recently asked Khan how H&R Block is using AI, as well as what advice he would give founders looking to build in this space.

How is H&R Block using generative AI?

Last year, we partnered with Microsoft to build and launch a GenAI tax assistant. Our model is trained on 70 years worth of tax data and insights, and helps answer users’ questions as they file their taxes, so they can maximize their refunds and minimize their tax liability. But this is just a first step. Beyond tax, we are also working on ways AI can augment key corporate functions like customer support and marketing.

What’s the biggest challenge facing H&R Block today?

Like many other companies, our biggest challenge is prioritization and figuring out where to focus our resources. We have so many opportunities to grow the company — the trick [to being successful] is having the discipline to focus on what really matters. I’d also add that as advice to early stage founders – figure out where you can have the biggest impact and focus your resources on that one area, versus being pulled in too many directions.

What other advice do you have for early stage founders building in tax and accounting?

Based on all the internal consumer research we’ve done, people are willing to try out AI for things like tax, accounting, and legal services, but they are still nervous about relying solely on machines given how new everything is. These are very important things to get right, because the consequences of a mis-filed return could be significant. This is people’s money! My advice would be to focus on how technology could enhance and augment human activity — how it could collaborate with humans to make the customer experience better. Also, think about how to help bigger companies like H&R Block do our job better… and get in touch if you can help!

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