Kunai Partners With Intuit to Simplify Taxes For Gig Economy Users

What is Intuit?
Financial software services company founded in 1983
Major areas of activity include Personal finance, Accounting software, and Tax return software
Contracted Kunai to integrate GPS and Machine Learning into existing apps in 2016.
Microsoft Azure


Intuit Inc. is a financial software services company founded in 1983. Founder, Scott Cook, realized that personal computers would transform paper and pencil based accounting. Thirty-seven years later, Intuit's personal financial products have grown to net a massive $7B in revenue each year. Their growth owes much to their orientation towards design, constantly iterating products to meet their customers' needs.

The Challenge

In the past decade, the United States has seen the rapid rise of the gig economy. Intuit recognized that driving lay at the center of the large majority of Americans filing as 1099 contractors.

Though Intuit’s platforms were equipped to provide relevant services to this emerging class of workers, there were some inefficiencies. Customers were spending most of their time manually inputting travel expenses, calculating gas and mileage, and digging through bank statements and old receipts to maximize expenses.

Additionally, many customers found the 1099 filing to be much more complicated than W2. The unfamiliarity of the new fields also led to more mistakes, which prolonged an experience that many already perceived to be highly unpleasant.

To better support their customers, Intuit sought to launch smart features to help facilitate the 1099 filing process for gig economy drivers.

The Solution

Reducing User Friction

At this time, Intuit approached Kunai to help identify and address areas of high friction for 1099 customers.

With driving being at the center of many of their customers’ gigs, Intuit wanted to provide an easy way to track their mileage. Backtracking and recording mileage was one of the most time consuming apps. If Intuit could integrate that feature into their tax filing platform, then that would immediately cut down on the time needed to file taxes.

Additionally, Intuit desired to automate much of the filing process for 1099 filers. Filing taxes as an employee under a W2 is a relatively simple process, as the bulk of the paperwork is handled by the employer. This “back-end” red tape is not something that 1099 filers are familiar with. However, pre-populating much of the tax documentation for gig worker compensation structures could bring down the complexity level of 1099 filing to that of W2 filing.

With the results of the collaborative audit in-hand, Intuit tasked Kunai with building the mileage tracker and documentation smart pre-populator on their existing systems. With Kunai’s expertise in scalable cloud computing, machine learning, and cross-platform mobile development– Kunai would develop the new platform quickly without compromising on quality.

The Process

Cloud Computing Expertise

To start with, Kunai presented plans on how they would integrate the new functions into Intuit’s existing AWS and Azure ecosystems. AWS, in particular, would later facilitate the machine learning models Kunai would help develop and integrate for the smart populator feature.

User Testing

Kunai also took charge of market testing this new feature before development finished with a small group of gig economy customers. This process helped validate the product and informed the future development of these features.

GPS Tracker and Populator

Kunai got to work implementing a machine learning model into the Intuit back-end that would be used to intelligently populate tax documents. This model would be trained to correctly identify the data being streamed to it from the user’s phone to then packaged it together with contextual data like previous tax forms and user-input data to pre-populate the most current tax documentation.

Kunai also integrated mobile GPS into Intuit’s app tracking capabilities. This feature would allow users to automatically log their mileage during active work time. That data would then be fed into the machine learning endpoint to be assessed and categorized.

The Result

Gig Economy Tax Assistant

Kunai reimagined Intuit’s mileage tracking features by integrating mobile GPS and transforming a manual and tedious process into one where travel expenses are added auto-magically. By implementing auto-logging and machine learning classification, Kunai was able to pre-populate much of the tax documentation and simplify gig worker's compensation structures.

Together, Kunai and Intuit quickly identified and solved a major source of user friction. On a larger scale, this one key piece of tech continues to foster a mutual sense of loyalty between Intuit product makers and a growing segment of America's workforce.

“It’s amazing to see how fast a large organization like Intuit can identify and react to such rapidly shifting trends. This collaboration showed us why Intuit upholds such a strong reputation of pushing the boundaries of innovative features and offerings.” - Sandeep Sood, CEO at Kunai.