Many people hate Tax Day in the United States. Tax Day plus an Internal Revenue Service website crash provided a recipe for disaster for tax filers who chose to wait until the last minute to pay Uncle Sam today.
According to a USA Today report, last-minute filers get even more time to procrastinate after the influx of e-filing overwhelmed the IRS system and crashed the website, causing it to go down for much of the day on Tuesday. For those who may find themselves panicking right now, the IRS released a bit of good news — they extended the deadline for filing 2017 taxes until midnight on Wednesday, April 18.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, who oversees the IRS, provided assurances to taxpayers that as soon as the system goes back online, taxpayers will receive extensions so that the technical malfunction won’t negatively affect taxpayers who are trying to finish up their taxes.
By around 5:05 p.m. ET on Tuesday the site appeared to be back online, and hopefully, it remains that way for the remainder of today and tomorrow while people work to finish filing.
Of course, the filing system wasn’t the only thing that crashed. People who wanted to pay their quarterly taxes through the IRS free Direct Pay system also faced difficulties and received errors telling them the service wasn’t available. Quarterly taxpayers were advised, though, that their payments still needed to be sent through the other acceptable payment methods, which included credit and debit cards that incur costly convenience fees.
The New York Times reported that the Direct Pay system directed taxpayers to return on Dec. 31, 9999, to try the service again. That is one long scheduled outage, to say the least.
Some former lawmakers blamed the antiquated computer system the IRS uses along with the dramatically smaller budget it operates under. In the past eight years, the budget fell from $14 billion to $11.5 billion while the staff dropped by about 20,000 employees. In October 2017, Congress received a warning that a failure of this magnitude could happen at any time, and today is the day it finally occurred.
Of course, the USPS still accepts tax returns the old-fashioned way, and many locations stay open late so that late filers can get their returns postmarked by midnight tonight.