IRS grants one-day extension for Tax Day glitch

Last-minute taxpayers unable to file their returns online because of an IRS computer problem got some welcome news Tuesday: You will now have until midnight Wednesday.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin gave that assurance, laterconfirmed by the IRS, which he oversees.

Well make sure taxpayers have extensions once the system comes up to make sure they can use it, and it in no way impacts people paying their taxes, Mnuchin told reporters in New Hampshire, The Associated Press reported. It was just a technical issue were working through.

As of 5:05 p.m. ET, the IRS’ site appeared to be working again after being down much of Tuesday.

The glitch affected the tax agency’sDirect Pay system, which lets people pay an estimate of taxes directly from their bank account free of charge.

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Earlier in the day, those trying to pay through this method weregreeted with an error message that said: “This service is temporarily unavailable. We are working to resolve the issue. Please come back later and try again, or you can visit theMake a Paymentpage for alternative payment methods. We apologize for any inconvenience.”

The IRS website also noted that “your tax payment is due although IRS Direct Pay may not be available,” so those looking to file should pay through the department’s other methods, which may include debit or credit cards and associated fees.

The tax agency issueda statement that acknowledged the problem. “Currently, certain IRS systems are experiencing technical difficulties. Taxpayers should continue filing their tax returns as they normally would.”

Its Tax Day and yet the IRSs online payment site has been down all day. pic.twitter.com/R3JlEpWk7E

— Bryce Covert (@brycecovert) April 17, 2018

Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter faced the unenviable position of alerting taxpayers and Congress to the embarrassing problem when he testified at a Tax Day hearing on Tuesdaybefore the House Subcommittee on Healthcare, Benefits and Administrative Rules.

“On my way over here this morning, I was told that a number of IRS systems are unavailable at the moment,” Kautter said during his opening statement. “We are working to resolve this issue.”

Kautter once again addressed the issue later Tuesday, saying in a statement “the IRS apologizes for the inconvenience this system issue caused for taxpayers” on the busiest tax day of the year.

Nonetheless, the Internet was not pleased.

There's no greater example of government incompetence than the IRS e-file system and direct pay service being down on #TaxDay. pic.twitter.com/mWjypxnzPz

— Joe Walsh (@WalshFreedom) April 17, 2018

The IRS is so incompetent they can't even keep their website up on tax day.

— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) April 17, 2018

Fine day for the IRS to have an outage on their direct pay site pic.twitter.com/f0DThp9SD6

— Chris Wittich (@RavenousTiger) April 17, 2018

When asked about #IRS technical difficulties on #TaxDay2018@larry_kudlow smiled and murmured The IRS is crashing? Sounds horrible. Hope it gets fixed. #freemarketsarcasm

— Major Garrett (@MajorCBS) April 17, 2018

The IRS has faced computer problems in the past, notably including a 2015 cyber hacking incident that potentially gained access to personal datafrommore than 700,000taxpayer accounts.

The information put at risk included Social Security numbers, birth dates and other data that cyber thieves could use to impersonate a real taxpayer, file a false federal tax return and collect a refund.

In the hacking case, the unidentified electronic attackers got inby taking taxpayer information theyacquired elsewhereand using it to correctly answer personal identity-verification questions in the “Get Transcript” application on the agency’s website.

At least seven federal audits and other reports about the IRS and computers from 2007 to 2014 outlined dangers that ranged from failures in database controls to hiring an ex-con without a background check and failing to screen for other workers who had access to personal data for millions of taxpayers.

Follow Eli Blumenthal on Twitter @eliblumenthal. Follow Kevin McCoy on Twitter @KMcCoyNYC

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