Some IRS systems still offline after outage

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UPDATE, 2/4/16, 4:30 P.M.: The IRS said some services have been restored Thursday, but the e-file service remains offline. 

The IRS’ full statement: 

IRS teams continued working throughout the night and this morning on the system outage, and many of our tools and applications came back up this morning, including “Where’s My Refund” on IRS.gov. We are continuing our work and analysis of our return processing system; we hope to have that back up again running at some point today. We will provide a further update later today.

While the e-file system for individual and business returns remains unavailable, the IRS reminds taxpayers they can still prepare and file tax returns as they normally would. Taxpayers can continue to send their tax returns to their e-file provider; these companies will hold the tax returns until the IRS resumes accepting electronic tax returns.

Our original story is below. 

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The Internal Revenue Service’s IT systems experienced a hardware failure Wednesday, causing the agency to shut down several key taxpayer and tax practitioner tools.

In a statement posted to the IRS’s website Wednesday evening, the agency said its e-file and Where’s My Refund systems will be offline for repairs. The IRS anticipates some of the systems will remain unavailable until Thursday.

IRS.gov is still functioning, but the services being fixed are some of the most popular websites across the federal government. E-File and Where’s My Refund are consistently in the top 10 on the government’s analytics dashboard.

People preparing their tax returns through an e-file provider have been told their returns will be held by the provider companies until the IRS restores service. Refunds should not be delayed, with the agency expecting that 9 out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days.

The outage marks an inauspicious start to the 2016 tax season after the agency had a rough 2015. Last year, 320,000 taxpayers had their information accessed and likely stolen via the IRS’ “Get Transcript” application, including Social Security numbers, dates of birth, tax filing statuses and street addresses. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen told the Senate Finance Committee in June the breach could mean as much as $50 million would be lost to fraudulent returns.

Thursday morning, House Oversight and Government Committee Chairman and IRS scourge Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, slammed Koskinen, accusing him of presiding over an agency in shambles.

“The IRS doesn’t have its house in order at any level,” Chaffetz said in a statement released to the press. “The Committee has been long concerned about IT vulnerabilities at the IRS. Under Mr. Koskinen’s poor management, problems fester and the American people suffer.”

Contact the reporter on this story via email at greg.otto@fedscoop.com, or follow him on Twitter at @gregotto. His OTR and PGP info can be found hereSubscribe to the Daily Scoop for stories like this in your inbox every morning by signing up here: fdscp.com/sign-me-on.

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Departments, House Oversight and Reform Committee, Internal Revenue Service, IRS, Jason Chafetz, John Koskinen, Treasury Department
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