Last-minute tax filers were in for a bit of a shock this afternoon as critical parts of the Internal Revenue Service’s website crashed, thoroughly complicating the online tax-paying process.
The IRS’s Direct Pay page, which allows users to debit their bank accounts to cover what they owe the government, was unavailable for much of Tuesday, just hours before the Tax Day deadline — which is midnight local time based on a filer’s time zone.
Other parts of the IRS website were also down, including the Payment Plan page where users can opt to settle their tax bill in installments.
As some have pointed out, Direct Pay is one of the only IRS systems that allow users to file taxes without any additional fees.
The Direct Pay page does appear to be online again as of 2:30 p.m. Pacific Time.
It’s not clear what caused the website crash, but some outlets theorize that it was the massive influx of traffic to the platform as people across the U.S. attempted to settle their debts to Uncle Sam at the eleventh hour.
Amusingly, even the alert on the service’s Direct Pay page was seemingly an error itself. As Vox pointed out, the page declared that the crash was part of a “planned outage” that would last from April 17, 2018 through December 31, 9999. Obviously, a 7,981-year outage was probably not part of the plan.
During the crash, third-party commercial tax services took the opportunity to market their own systems. “Taxpayers should go ahead and continue to prepare and file their taxes as normal with TurboTax,” a TurboTax spokeswoman told CNBC. “(Our platform) has uninterrupted service and is available and accepting e-filed returns.”
Many took to Twitter to express their frustrations and comment on the situation.
Hey @IRSnews, why haven’t you had anything to say about the IRS Direct Pay outage? Why haven’t you provided any helpful information to taxpayers to help them understand their alternate options?
— Usurper of menfolk (@clofwhoville) April 17, 2018
to everyone who hasn’t done their taxes yet and now the irs website is down; lmao good luck yall
— 🌷light jacket weather appreciater🍃 (@jfreeze89) April 17, 2018
@ABC7NY @nypost @NYDailyNews @7OnYourSideNY @NBCNewYork @CBSNewYork @vinbarone @errollouis @amNewYork of all days when taxes are due today @IRSnews website down where nobody can make payments by check at no cost. pic.twitter.com/wLaghrGqcb
— David-Paul Gerber (@WakefieldBxDave) April 17, 2018
While the crash undoubtedly caused panic for many tax filers, IRS officials told The Washington Post that online filers would not be penalized for lateness due to the site’s technical difficulties.
In addition, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told the Associated Press that online tax filers will be given extra time to pay their bills, Bloomberg reported. “We’ll make sure taxpayers have extensions once the system comes up to make sure they can use it and in no way impacts people paying their taxes,” the secretary told reporters Tuesday.
According to The Washington Post, “Taxpayers can submit their returns without penalty through the end of the day Wednesday, officials said.”
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