A report from the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration estimates that computer programming woes cost the country more than the $200- to $300-million range originally estimated by the Internal Revenue Service.

The inspector general's report estimated that the agency doled out approximately $318 million in improper refunds this tax season because a computer-based screening system was not in place. The IRS had contracted with Computer Sciences Corp. to update software in place since 1996, but the company was unable to produce a working program by the spring tax-filing deadline -- despite a $20 million budget.

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