Oops: IRS pay­ment sys­tem suffers glitch on Tax Day

USA TODAY US Edition - - MONEY - Eli Blu­men­thal and Kevin Mc­Coy

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, later con­firmed by the IRS, which he over­sees.

“We’ll 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. “It was just a tech­ni­cal is­sue we’re 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’s Direct Pay sys­tem, which lets peo­ple pay an es­ti­mate of taxes di­rectly from their bank ac­count free of charge.

Ear­lier in the day, those try­ing to pay through this method were greeted 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 the Make a Pay­ment page 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 is­sued a state­ment that ac­knowl­edged the prob­lem. “Cur­rently, cer­tain IRS sys­tems are ex­peri- enc­ing tech­ni­cal dif­fi­cul­ties. Tax­pay­ers should con­tinue fil­ing their tax re­turns as they nor­mally would.”

It is un­clear what caused the is­sue. 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 Tues­day be­fore 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.”

He ad­dressed the is­sue in a state­ment later Tues­day: “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.

The IRS has faced com­puter prob­lems in the past, no­tably in­clud­ing a 2015 cy­ber­hack­ing in­ci­dent that po­ten­tially gained ac­cess to per­sonal data from more than 700,000 tax­payer ac­counts.

GETTY IMAGES

Some tax­pay­ers were told to pay with an “al­ter­na­tive” method.

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