IRS Cites Widespread `Hardware Failure' and Systems Outage

  • Tax processing functions including e-filing not working
  • Officials say some systems may stay down on Thursday

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service says a hardware failure Wednesday shut down a number of tax processing systems, including the e-file system -- preventing the agency from accepting income-tax returns electronically.

While the agency is working to restore normal operations as soon as possible, officials said in a statement that some of the affected systems may not be operating Thursday either. A number of taxpayer and tax practitioner tools weren’t available Wednesday, the agency said, including the “Where’s My Refund” function on the IRS website that allows for checking on the status of income-tax refunds.

A “power or electrical issue” caused the failures, said Matt Leas, an IRS spokesman. He provided no additional details. Officials do not anticipate major disruptions to the payment of income-tax refunds and expect that 90 percent of taxpayers will get refunds within 21 days, according to the agency’s statement.

“The IRS remains in close contact with e-file software transmitters and the tax community during this period,” the agency said.

Taxpayers can still prepare their returns as normal and file them with their e-file provider, the agency said, but the service providers will have to hold the returns until the IRS begins accepting them again. Those who have already filed their returns don’t need to take any additional steps, according to the news release.

As of Wednesday evening, the agency was still assessing the scope of the system failure, which occurred at an IRS center in West Virginia, according to a person with knowledge of the matter. Agency officials on Wednesday were trying to determine if any other facilities were affected.

The IRS website lists several facilities in West Virginia; it wasn’t clear Wednesday which might have been affected. IRS sites there include at least two “enterprise computing centers” in Martinsburg and Kearneysville and the Beckley Finance Center in Beckley. The finance center, part of the IRS’s chief financial office, processes payments for manual transactions and electronic payment files and helps handle the agency’s general ledger, according to the website.

The deadline for most individuals to file their federal income taxes for the 2015 tax year is April 18.

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