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IRS Servers Down During Crucial Week 93

Posted by timothy
from the get-in-line-citizen dept.
crimeandpunishment writes "A planned server outage turned into an unplanned glitch for the Internal Revenue Service, and it comes at a very bad time. The IRS planned the server outage for the holiday weekend ... but today they couldn't get the system back into operation. This week is the deadline for filing 2009 tax returns for taxpayers who got extensions. So far it's not having a huge impact since the shutdown only involves the updated version of the e-filing system, and most programs used by large tax companies like H&R Block will default to the older version. There's no estimate on when the system will be back up."
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IRS Servers Down During Crucial Week

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  • Let's hope nobody out there is really depending on a tax return, which is the only possible scenario in which I can think this is a big deal. And by the way, if that's you, maybe don't pay so much in... in the first place?
    • by drcheap (1897540)

      Yeah, we are talking about people who wanted extensions. Now they might get an additional extension of a day or three, I doubt there will be much complaining there.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by afidel (530433)
      If you filed an extension it's unlikely you are getting a return (people getting money back are generally incentivized to get them done on time). OTOH if you are trying to get your return in on time to avoid penalties and interest that you probably can't afford then this might be a big deal.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by XanC (644172)

        That's "incited". There's no "incentivized" and no need for one; there's a perfectly good word already.

        • by afidel (530433)
          It's been a word since 1970, longer than I have been alive by almost a decade. link [merriam-webster.com]
      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by operagost (62405)
        Since this was the second time the word "return" was misused in this thread, I'd like to point out that you probably mean "refund". The "return" is the documentation you send to the IRS.
  • At first glance, I thought the bug picture in the summary was for the IRS...

  • Fine the Bastards (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Un pobre guey (593801)
    OK, when I fuck up on my return, I get bashed in the face by the IRS. When they fuck up on your tax returns, it's a "glitch."
    • by geekoid (135745)

      please. the IRS is very reasonable with mistakes.

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward
        @geekoid Sure, if your name is Tom Daschle or Tim Geithner. Not so much if your name is Joe Stack.
        • Re:Fine the Bastards (Score:5, Interesting)

          by the linux geek (799780) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @08:26PM (#33878108)
          You're right that there's a double standard, but generally I'd argue that the IRS is actually pretty lenient. They give you a heads up and give you a chance to pay (eventually with modest fines) for quite a while before they start getting ugly. At that point, you may very well be SOL, but as long as you aren't deliberately trying to fuck them over there is plenty of opportunity to solve the problem with minimal inconvenience.
          • Re:Fine the Bastards (Score:5, Informative)

            by Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @08:41PM (#33878214)

            > At that point, you may very well be SOL, but as long as you aren't deliberately trying to fuck them over there is plenty of opportunity to solve the problem with minimal inconvenience.

            Usually, yes, but not always. A correction, if you make a mistake on your return, is very easy to pay, and there's no substantial penalty--nor should there be, given the complexity of the tax code. But being selected for a tax audit is about as much fun as pulling a Phineas Gage, and sometimes things that shouldn't kick one up do--for example, if you have fifteen children, the number of exemptions you claim will almost certainly cause you to be audited.

            • Re: (Score:1, Funny)

              by Anonymous Coward

              If you have fifteen children, you have much bigger problems than the IRS. Like, for instance, the question of sanity, and the ever-present temptation to swallow the end of a gun.

            • for example, if you have fifteen children, the number of exemptions you claim will almost certainly cause you to be audited.

              With 15 kids, I'd think you'd be happy to be out of the house.

              Hell, you might bribe the IRS agent to give you a letter, telling you to be at their office every day for the next month!

          • by roman_mir (125474)

            "not to fuck them over".

            Isn't that great? They gov't assumes it has power over everything you do (well, the gov't is put there by the proverbial people, so I guess it's 'people' who assume this right?) everything that you do to make a living, everything you work on, they have the ultimate ability to tax you at 100% or MORE and then maybe they can gift some of the fruits of your labor back to you, and it's you, who should watch not to 'fuck them over'.

          • by soundguy (415780)

            You're right that there's a double standard, but generally I'd argue that the IRS is actually pretty lenient. They give you a heads up and give you a chance to pay (eventually with modest fines) for quite a while before they start getting ugly. At that point, you may very well be SOL, but as long as you aren't deliberately trying to fuck them over there is plenty of opportunity to solve the problem with minimal inconvenience.

            My accountant recently attended an IRS workshop. This is not an exact quote, but it's pretty close:

            "The 'kinder, gentler' Bush IRS is history. There's a new sheriff in town and the IRS is the world's largest collection agency. It's gonna get ugly."

            I'm on an extension myself and just got my forms sent to the accountant about 5:00am today. I think I'll file on time next year.

        • by Sulphur (1548251)

          If your name is Joe Stack.

          Push Joe Stack. Pop Joe Stack. Pop Joe Stack. Pop Joe Stack.

        • by operagost (62405)
          Hey, at least they're not racist. Charlie Rangel is black, and they gave him three free tries to get it right (oops, totally FORGOT about my villa, silly me). Let's face it-- the tax laws are, to misquote the President, "unsustainable" when both the chairman of the Ways and Means committee and the secretary of the Treasury (and back in 1938, the President; when FDR had to send a personal letter to the head of the IRS about the new tax rates he just jacked up) can't figure out their taxes.
      • please. the IRS is very reasonable with mistakes.

        Uh huh. Reasonable. About as reasonable as thugs with baseball bats hired by a loan shark with a hangover and a grudge.

    • Pretty much. Welcome to government. And do note my username.
    • by Culture20 (968837)

      Fine the Bastards

      Yeah! Fine the government agency! It's not like we'll get higher taxes to pay for the fines or anything.

      • by shentino (1139071)

        It still hurts at least temporarily because their budget gets a beating.

        • But it's entirely artificial. One tax funded budget gets funds transferred to another tax funded budget. Its also not as if the IRS (or any agency) has funds sitting in a bank account somewhere, if they have to pay a fine they're just going to have to have a correspondingly bigger requisition to cover the fine and their own operations.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Actually, when I've fucked up, they sent it back with a note saying that it appeared to be inaccurate, why it was inaccurate, and a number to call if I wanted the erroneuous one audited in lieu of correcting my mistake. All in all, not a problem, at all. Granted, it was a mistake, not fraud, but still, they were suprisingly non-hostile.

      • I had the same thing happen. Though I suspect that most of the lenience came because I had filed well before the April 15 deadline and still had time to correct my mistake, which makes things easier for everyone involved.
    • by EmagGeek (574360)

      There is no law requiring the IRS to function properly. The onus is still on the taxpayer to ensure the IRS receives their paperwork on time, no matter what.

  • Now might be a good time for the House of Representatives to look at HR.25 [loc.gov], and if they pass it, then getting the IRS back on its feet would suddenly become a VERY low priority.
    • by jjohnson (62583)

      Yes, if the government decided that it didn't need any tax revenue at all, and just decided to fold up shop and go away, then sure, getting the IRS running again would be a low priority.

    • Re: (Score:1, Troll)

      by geekoid (135745)

      Yes, because they would have no money and no middle class.

      Dumb ass.

  • by angry tapir (1463043) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @07:49PM (#33877832) Homepage
    Personally I like to plan my glitches.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2007/03/07/tax-glitch.html

  • Shame on them. They should have waited until *after* a critical date. A simple IT rule of thumb, never rollout or upgrade a major system near a critical date or during a critical time period. Another example would be upgrading a retailer's systems in the timespan between Xmas and Thanksgiving.

    Having just said it, I am now waiting for Wal-Mart's (or other major retailer's) systems to go down the week of Dec. 24th after an "upgrade".

    • by afidel (530433)
      I work for a large commercial real estate company and we won't be doing our planned ERP upgrade until after the close of Q1 due to the importance of year end and first quarter billing. Between the end of Q1 and the middle of Q3 nobody gives a darn what we take down or upgrade (other than email) but come the end of August lord help you if you have to do anything more than upgrade tax compliance tables.
    • by rjstanford (69735)

      Shame on them. They should have waited until *after* a critical date. A simple IT rule of thumb, never rollout or upgrade a major system near a critical date or during a critical time period. Another example would be upgrading a retailer's systems in the timespan between Xmas and Thanksgiving.

      Actually that's far safer than upgrading it during the inverse time between Thanksgiving and Christmas :)

      • by plopez (54068)

        Hmmm... doesnt quite make sense. If you look at the timespan between Xmas and Thanksgiving as Mod365 under "+" operation then in terms of DOY, this year, then you need the inverse of the DOY between Thanksgiving (abbrev. "turkey") and Xmas (abbrev. obvious).

        so you need the inverese of the series of DOY 359 through 329. Which would be 298-365=-36 in the case of turkey. The inverse of Xmas is 6, mod365. I don't see anything wrong with doing an upgrade in January and Feb.

        The argument for leap years is left as

    • A simple IT rule of thumb, never rollout or upgrade a major system near a critical date or during a critical time period.

      One of the systems where I work had an upgrade just before the holiday weekend. The system was down Thursday & Friday, and the person in charge had only 1 day to handle glitches, do tech support, and keep everything running. I'm pretty sure she didn't do any posting on /. yesterday.

  • I still file my taxes the old-fashioned way... via paper. So their system outage wont affect me. I would e-file, but why do them a favor? It takes me just as long to e-file as it does to fill out the paper form. And if the IRS is going to waste my time, i'm going to waste theirs. :p

    • by Artifakt (700173)

      All you're doing is, you're hurting yourself (and maybe, arguably, other taxpayers). The IRS has informed all the commercial tax prep firms of their error rates in submissions, and often tells individual commercial tax preparers what their error rates are like. When they do this for a particular year, they tell us what the year's error rate for paper filers is like, and what the rate for the IRS's own temp agency help that types those paper returns into the computers is. I'm not going to argue over whether

  • Already an old story (Score:4, Informative)

    by astro (20275) on Tuesday October 12, 2010 @09:26PM (#33878502) Homepage

    Perhaps I'm just not trying to use a part of the system that is down, but I filed for an extension this year, e-filed about 3 weeks ago, and got a very clear "Down For Maintenance" message when I went to check the status of my refund yesterday. The message included an estimated date for the system to be back up (10/12 - today), and indeed it was. Poking around a little, it appears that the rest of the e-file system is also functional at this time (though I don't care enough to do an exhaustive search for broken things, having fulfilled my immediate needs).

  • This happens every time they try to dust the relays on their Mark-I. They forget to oil the camshaft, too.
    • When I was a student (1980s), I worked for a giant telco as an apprentice during university holidays. They still had some electromechanical phone exchanges in the small towns and I serviced a few uni-selector switches. Those were amazing machines, complete with mechanical registers (memory) and with proper maintenance, they lasted forever. By the 1980s they were just barely run in, but they were being replaced with small electronic switches.
  • by plover (150551) * on Wednesday October 13, 2010 @12:12AM (#33879384) Homepage Journal

    I had to look at a calendar to figure out what the summary meant by "holiday weekend." It's hard to believe Columbus Day is still recognized by anyone after the fourth grade. 1492, Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria -- that's it. That's his entire legacy.

    Really, the guy was a world-class failure. I mean if he had done his job right, these sentences would be in Italian. Even the guy who came after him managed to get the continents named for himself. Now, all he has is Columbia, and even they speak Spanish!

    • Also, Columbus Day isn't even a real holiday. Like President's Day, it is a "Bankers and Civil Servants Holiday." The rest of us have to work.
  • All required data is supposed to be sent to the taxpayer in one month anyways.

Don't sweat it -- it's only ones and zeros. -- P. Skelly

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