More Taxing Reasons To Guard Your Private Information
Just two weeks after the January 19th start of Tax Season, on Wednesday, February 3rd, the IRS experienced an alleged “hardware failure” that according to USAToday.com, “knocked some of the tax agency’s computers out of service.” With all the troubles the IRS is already facing, this latest snafu just adds more fuel to the overwhelming frustration most taxpayers feel with this government institution.
As of February 4th, the day the USA Today article was posted, “Some IRS computers resumed operation.” It’s unclear as to how widespread the outage was and when all the computers at the agency will be running again.
If it’s any consolation, though, according to USA Today, “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 of us in the business of preparing tax returns for our clients have already begun transmitting returns to the IRS again. For taxpayers expecting a refund, rest assured you should receive it within 21 days after your returns are received and accepted, according to what IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told USA Today. Taking that a little further, the IRS indicated that those “filers who received a specific date…should face no impact from the outage.”
We can only hope that the IRS is correct in its early assessment of the outage as that of “hardware failure.” The agency has been vulnerable to massive attacks from cyber criminals in the past and American taxpayers have been victimized as a result. This information is readily available and has been making headline news for the past few years. In fact, just last August hackers attacked IRS systems and gained access to information from more than 350,000 taxpayer accounts. So it’s easy to understand that many people could be distrustful of the agencies assessment.
According to the USA Today piece, “at least one IRS critic suggested the computer systems might have been attacked by electronic hackers.” The IRS also said that there “was no evidence of any external involvement in the outage.”