IRS resumes tax return processing after computer outage – USA TODAY
The IRS has resumed processing of 2015 federal tax returns, following a suspected hardware failure that knocked some of the tax agency’s computers out of service.
Processing of tax returns for individuals and businesses started anew around 5 p.m. ET Thursday, after IRS teams worked onÂ the problem, the agency said. Other electronic tools and applications, including the “Where’s My Refund” function on the IRS.gov website, were restored earlier.
Taxpayers, including those who e-filed their 2015 returns just before or during the outage, don’t need to take any additional action, the IRS said. Although some IRS computer systems were out from at least Wednesday evening until Thursday evening, taxpayers were able to continue to send their returns to their e-filing providers.
Those providers, such as tax-preparation firms, accountants, attorneys and others, have resumed transmissions of theÂ tax returns, the IRS said.
Additionally, filers who received a specific date from the IRS’ Where’s My Refund tool should face no impact from the outage, the agency said.
Nine out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days after their tax returns are received and accepted,Â said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen.
“Taxpayers should see little, if any, impact on their tax returns or refunds,” said Koskinen. “We apologize for the inconvenience this caused, and we appreciate the support and patience from taxpayers as well as our partners in the tax community and state revenue departments.”
Apart from attributing the outage to an apparent hardware failure, the IRS offered no immediate response toÂ questions seeking a more detailed explanation.
Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, a frequent IRS critic, on Thursday suggested the IRS computer systems might have been attacked by electronic hackers. The IRS did not respond to questions about the assertion.
Apart from the recent outage, the nation’s tax agency has suffered numerous computer-related problems and issues in recent years.
Cyber thieves last year stole as much as $39 million by filing roughly 13,000 fraudulent tax refunds after gaining access to taxpayer information via the IRSÂ “get transcript” application, Koskinen told Congress in June. The application isÂ an interactive program that enables legitimate taxpayers to access copies of their own federal tax returns from previous years.
The hackers succeeded in gaining access to information from more than 350,000 accounts, federal Inspector General J. Russell George, who oversees the IRS, said in an October management report. However, the cyber-thieves did not reach the tax-processing computer system, the IRS said.
The management report also said the IRS did not meet U.S. Department of Homeland SecurityÂ performance levels set to ensureÂ that governmentÂ computer systems “are maintained in an organized, secure and approved manner, including timely installing patches to resolve known security vulnerabilities.”