IRS Computers That Shut Down After Major Failure, Recover – Will The Glitch Slow Down Refunds?

Alap Naik Desai

IRS computers that went down after a major failure are now recovering. However, those who attempted to get a head start on their annual tax filing ritual may have to wait a bit longer.

Twenty-four hours after first announcing that several of its tax processing systems and tools had gone down, the IRS confirmed Thursday that its services are now back up. However, some reports indicate that though some features and processes available to those seeking to file their returns and claim refunds on the official IRS site are now active, the agency cautioned that certain programs continue to remain offline.

It might take some more time to get all the tax processing systems and tools back up and running smoothly. What's concerning is that the IRS admitted that it expects to issue nine out of 10 refunds within 21 days of receiving a tax filer's return. What this may mean is that IRS is aware that the tax refund process might be delayed for a small number of people, despite the agency claiming to have the computers running again.

Notably, H&R Block and TurboTax had managed to hold on to the returns they received during the outage, reported Channel 3000. These platforms have now resumed sending tax returns to the IRS computers.

What caused the IRS computers to go down? The systems collecting your tax forms aren't running on cutting edge technology or hardware. The IRS didn't divulge what caused the computer failure owing to the sensitivity of the department. It merely issued a standard response which read as follows.

"We are examining the underlying cause... as well as monitoring any follow-up issues. We believe there was a hardware failure."
"We're running applications we were running when John F. Kennedy was president. Some IRS systems still use the COBOL programming language."

Even though computers are running, the agency noted that it is "still assessing the scope of the outage," and thinks that "any disruptions will be minimal," reported Consumerist.

Though there are reports that indicate it was a hardware failure that caused the IRS computers to go down, the agency mentioned it was working with its e-file software transmitters and the tax community during the outage.

[Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images]