The Internal Revenue Service has been getting its systems in order to handle the onslaught of pent-up tax returns that electronic filers have been sending its way this week.
On Valentine’s Day, the IRS was supposed to begin accepting tax returns containing Schedule A for itemized deductions and other forms that had been delayed. The delay was due to Congress’s late enactment last December of legislation extending the Bush-era tax rates, the estate tax, and other tax provisions. However, the IRS had a shaky start and announced Tuesday that there would still be processing delays with some business returns (see IRS Starts Processing Some Delayed Tax Returns).
An industry association of electronic filing providers, CERCA, also issued an announcement Tuesday saying that the IRS was requesting that private sector transmitters of e-filed returns stagger their submission of returns over the course of the week (see IRS Asks E-file Transmitters to Slow Down). The group noted that there would be some continued delays in return and refund processing. Due to the high volume of backlogged returns the IRS was beginning to process this week, according to the group, the agency was limiting the number of returns it would accept daily to manage their systems capacity.
I decided to check in with both the IRS and CERCA on how things were progressing. An IRS spokesperson said yesterday evening that they had begun accepting the delayed returns on Tuesday (though they were supposed to be ready on Monday morning), but she only wanted to refer me to the agency’s press release and expressed confusion over where I had heard that the IRS was having problems handling the processing load this week.
A few minutes after I received her e-mail, however, around 6 pm Eastern time, I received a separate e-mail alert from the IRS about its Modernized e-File system, saying, “The IRS is preparing a fix to the Modernized e-File system and expects to resume MeF processing soon. Meanwhile, taxpayers and practitioners should continue to e-file since the vast majority of their tax returns, including those claiming items authorized by the extender legislation, are not affected. We will issue a Quick Alert when more information is available.”
I forwarded the e-mail to the IRS spokesperson, but I haven’t heard back yet. Around 1:30 in the morning, the IRS sent another e-mail alert, saying the MeF system was back up and running, though: “The problem the IRS was experiencing with the MeF system has been resolved. Please resume transmitting submissions, retrieving acknowledgements, and submitting other service requests. We apologize for any inconvenience, and thank you for your patience.”
I checked in with CERCA today to find out if they had heard any updates on the IRS’s status with the backlogged returns, but they hadn’t heard much lately either. “I think progress is certainly being made,” said CERCA executive director Mike Cavanagh. “Progress in everybody’s mind is being made, and that’s obviously a good thing. I think things are moving forward on that.”
Let’s hope so.