Tuesday was Tax Day, intended to be the last day to turn in 2017 tax returns. Tax Day is usually hectic, but this year was especially heart attack-inducing for the nation’s noble procrastinators, as the IRS’s direct payment system crashed, telling filers their “planned maintenance” would run from April 17, 2018 until December 31, 9999. (They must be using Windows 95.)
Richard Neal of the House Ways and Means Committee called for the IRS to “make accommodations so that every taxpayer attempting to file today has a fair shot to do so without penalty.” The IRS agreed, announcing Tuesday evening that the new filing deadline is midnight of April 18th:
“This is the busiest tax day of the year, and the IRS apologizes for the inconvenience this system issue caused for taxpayers,” said Acting IRS Commissioner David Kautter. “The IRS appreciates everyone’s patience during this period. The extra time will help taxpayers affected by this situation.”
The IRS advised taxpayers to continue to file their taxes as normal Tuesday evening — whether electronically or on paper. Automatic six-month extensions are available to taxpayers who need additional time to file can visit https://www.irs.gov/forms-pubs/extension-of-time-to-file-your-tax-return.
The IRS reportedly estimates it will receive 14 million to 15 million extension requests, but returns filed before midnight tonight do not require an extension.
IRS officials have long been predicting an eventual hardware failure of this magnitude. The agency’s budget has dropped nearly 20% (not even including inflation) since 2010 and has shed roughly 20,000 employees. The drop in the annual budget from $14 billion to $11.5 billion has left the agency’s I.T. infrastructure outdated and reduced the number of staffers who can pursue the estimated $408 billion per year in underpayments.
Former IRS commissioner John Koskinen was among those who urged Congress to fund an infrastructure update. “I kept telling Congress, if funding continues to be constrained, it’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when the system fails,” he told the New York Times. “You really are rolling the dice when you operate that way.”