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IRS Servers Down During Crucial Week

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the get-in-line-citizen dept.

Bug 93

crimeandpunishment writes "A planned server outage turned into an unplanned glitch for the Internal Revenue Service, and it comes at a very bad time. The IRS planned the server outage for the holiday weekend ... but today they couldn't get the system back into operation. This week is the deadline for filing 2009 tax returns for taxpayers who got extensions. So far it's not having a huge impact since the shutdown only involves the updated version of the e-filing system, and most programs used by large tax companies like H&R Block will default to the older version. There's no estimate on when the system will be back up."

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93 comments

first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877710)

taxes are for lamers, 49% of "taxpayers" pay no income tax.

Re:first post (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879308)

Are you talking about rich people who game the system or unemployed and not receiving unemployment benefits? ...'cause I'd really like to have an income, taxes be damned.

Depending on tax returns? (1)

The Living Fractal (162153) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877714)

Let's hope nobody out there is really depending on a tax return, which is the only possible scenario in which I can think this is a big deal. And by the way, if that's you, maybe don't pay so much in... in the first place?

Re:Depending on tax returns? (1)

drcheap (1897540) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877744)

Yeah, we are talking about people who wanted extensions. Now they might get an additional extension of a day or three, I doubt there will be much complaining there.

Re:Depending on tax returns? (2, Insightful)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877754)

If you filed an extension it's unlikely you are getting a return (people getting money back are generally incentivized to get them done on time). OTOH if you are trying to get your return in on time to avoid penalties and interest that you probably can't afford then this might be a big deal.

Re:Depending on tax returns? (2, Informative)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878576)

That's "incited". There's no "incentivized" and no need for one; there's a perfectly good word already.

Re:Depending on tax returns? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878640)

It's been a word since 1970, longer than I have been alive by almost a decade. link [merriam-webster.com]

Re:Depending on tax returns? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879480)

Whichever way you slice it, it still smells like a marketing neologism.
Oh Shakespeare, what did you begin?

Re:Depending on tax returns? (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882472)

Whichever way you slice it, it still smells like a marketing neologism.

Languages change over time. The pronunciations and cultural meanings of words drift. This is a good thing, it allows us to label and discuss concepts that we were previously unable to. I like the term "incentivize". But that's because I'm a researcher, and I am constantly working on better ways to attract potential participants and get them to participate in my studies.

For better or worse, we are a society in which marketing plays an increasingly important role. It makes absolute sense that we develop new terminology and language to discuss our new social conditions.

Re:Depending on tax returns? (2, Insightful)

XanC (644172) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883758)

What's wrong with "incite"? The only reason anybody uses "incentivize" is because he is ignorant of "incite". That's the primary reason that "incentivize" is awful.

Re:Depending on tax returns? (0)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33884840)

I think of incite as having a connotation of a call to physical action, as in he incited a riot. Incentivize has the connotation of offering a positive reinforcement for a desired action. To think that someone is ignorant just because they choose to use a different, perfectly legitimate word choice is itself highly ignorant.

Re:Depending on tax returns? (2, Informative)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882548)

Since this was the second time the word "return" was misused in this thread, I'd like to point out that you probably mean "refund". The "return" is the documentation you send to the IRS.

can one file from a Linux-native program yet? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877750)

Is there anything like Turbotax for Linux these days? Or is the US Govt basically requiring that I buy some particular vendor's operating system to do my taxes electronically?

If there's something that should be fully open software, it seems like *this* is that thing!

Re:can one file from a Linux-native program yet? (1)

Wingman 5 (551897) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877778)

You can do your taxes on the efile website i believe.

Re:can one file from a Linux-native program yet? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879146)

I have done all my tax filing through e-file, on my linux desktop. I believe it'll even output a .ps instead of a .pdf for your records too.

Re:can one file from a Linux-native program yet? (1)

ani23 (899493) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877780)

They have had it for a while. Turbotax.com

Re:can one file from a Linux-native program yet? (2, Informative)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878674)

Yeah, I've been doing my federal return through H&R Block online for the last 5 years and only in 2005 did they require IE, since then it's been fine with Firefox.

Re:can one file from a Linux-native program yet? (1)

Apple Acolyte (517892) | more than 3 years ago | (#33885354)

I'm glad it works for you, but I have trouble trusting a tax preparation firm that screws up its own taxes over multiple years [sec.gov].

If a party arose that pledged as part of its platform to abolish the IRS and fundamentally reform government, getting us off the speeding train wreck financial course we're on presently, wouldn't such a party do really well electorally? Why hasn't any party to date come up with a clear message to that effect? OR am I deluding myself by thinking that Americans still want to enjoy the fruits of liberty?

Fine the Bastards (2, Insightful)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877772)

OK, when I fuck up on my return, I get bashed in the face by the IRS. When they fuck up on your tax returns, it's a "glitch."

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877870)

please. the IRS is very reasonable with mistakes.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878028)

@geekoid Sure, if your name is Tom Daschle or Tim Geithner. Not so much if your name is Joe Stack.

Re:Fine the Bastards (4, Interesting)

the linux geek (799780) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878108)

You're right that there's a double standard, but generally I'd argue that the IRS is actually pretty lenient. They give you a heads up and give you a chance to pay (eventually with modest fines) for quite a while before they start getting ugly. At that point, you may very well be SOL, but as long as you aren't deliberately trying to fuck them over there is plenty of opportunity to solve the problem with minimal inconvenience.

Re:Fine the Bastards (4, Informative)

Oxford_Comma_Lover (1679530) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878214)

> At that point, you may very well be SOL, but as long as you aren't deliberately trying to fuck them over there is plenty of opportunity to solve the problem with minimal inconvenience.

Usually, yes, but not always. A correction, if you make a mistake on your return, is very easy to pay, and there's no substantial penalty--nor should there be, given the complexity of the tax code. But being selected for a tax audit is about as much fun as pulling a Phineas Gage, and sometimes things that shouldn't kick one up do--for example, if you have fifteen children, the number of exemptions you claim will almost certainly cause you to be audited.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878312)

If you have fifteen children, you have much bigger problems than the IRS. Like, for instance, the question of sanity, and the ever-present temptation to swallow the end of a gun.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

MartinSchou (1360093) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880128)

for example, if you have fifteen children, the number of exemptions you claim will almost certainly cause you to be audited.

With 15 kids, I'd think you'd be happy to be out of the house.

Hell, you might bribe the IRS agent to give you a letter, telling you to be at their office every day for the next month!

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878624)

"not to fuck them over".

Isn't that great? They gov't assumes it has power over everything you do (well, the gov't is put there by the proverbial people, so I guess it's 'people' who assume this right?) everything that you do to make a living, everything you work on, they have the ultimate ability to tax you at 100% or MORE and then maybe they can gift some of the fruits of your labor back to you, and it's you, who should watch not to 'fuck them over'.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

soundguy (415780) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878772)

You're right that there's a double standard, but generally I'd argue that the IRS is actually pretty lenient. They give you a heads up and give you a chance to pay (eventually with modest fines) for quite a while before they start getting ugly. At that point, you may very well be SOL, but as long as you aren't deliberately trying to fuck them over there is plenty of opportunity to solve the problem with minimal inconvenience.

My accountant recently attended an IRS workshop. This is not an exact quote, but it's pretty close:

"The 'kinder, gentler' Bush IRS is history. There's a new sheriff in town and the IRS is the world's largest collection agency. It's gonna get ugly."

I'm on an extension myself and just got my forms sent to the accountant about 5:00am today. I think I'll file on time next year.

Re:Fine the Bastards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879992)

I'm on an extension myself and just got my forms sent to the accountant about 5:00am today. I think I'll file on time next year.

I've read that filing for an extension reduces the chances for a "random" audit of your return, although I'd suspect similar risk should there be any "triggers". I was due a decent refund, but filed for an extension simply to reduce the chances of an audit. I'm on a Schedule C as well, so I'm already at a 300-400% increased risk otherwise.

Of course, if you owe, my understanding is that you need to pay estimated taxes by April 15 regardless of the extension.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883502)

For the last few years, the biggest increase in audits has been focused on the Earned Income Credit (EIC). About the middle of the Bush administration, IRS testified to Congress about tax fraud sources, and for the 2003 year (which was the most recent they had finished analyzing at the time), they came up with these estimates:

1st place, fraud for small business filers using schedule C = approximately 100 Billion a year.
2nd place, fraud for filers using EIC = approximately 9 Billion a year.

Congress told them all that EIC fraud was terrible, and directed them to toughen up on auditing EIC. (Make of that what you will). The IRS has complied with these directions. While the IRS proposed increased business auditing, congress's choice of what to deal with first means you weren't the one at a 300-400% increased risk for random spot check audits, at least until very recently. The IRS is just starting to go after schedule C - as a sometimes paid preparer I started seeing some of the same changes that began hitting EIC filers in 2005-2007 being adapted for schedule C situations this regular filing season.
        Triggered audits are, of course, a different story. You'll probably see the IRS checking whenever someone claims self employed income that exceeds the amount reported on 1099-MISCs, before long. For many 'Sched C. people', that will be routine - that is, they will just write a note on a support form saying "I run a retail business, naturally most customers don't provide me with 1099-MISCs when they buy something, since it's not required.". But what about a self employed carpenter, saying "I have X total income, and 81% of it is supported by 1099's from the home builders I contract with, but the other 19% is smaller jobs"? He or she will probably have to state he or she has proper written records, which will become something sworn under penalty of law if he does not in fact have them complete and to standard, just as people claiming vehicle mileage now have to make the same statement.*
        This year, I had a client who runs a commercial lawn care service, and who was audited. While it came out well, I was surprised that the IRS wanted to see a record of all the small one shot jobs the service did much more than they cared about the much more easily documented ongoing contracts that were all big enough to generate 1099-MISCs. My client was verbally instructed that his log of small clients should be in consistent order, always by full name of the person or business, rather than having some clients listed by address, and that he should list businesses by business name only and not by the owner's or manager's or other contact's personal name. (Note he was not dinged for it - the auditor merely said "We recommend you use this sort of system for responsible record keeping.").

* For those of you wondering "Why would the IRS be worried that someone would report more income than they (or the IRS) can prove?", there are reasons some crooks do this. For one, to keep calling something a business, it generally needs to show a profit now and then - the rule of thumb is 3 years in 5. Pad your expenses a couple of years in a row to remove all profitability, and then the economy goes bad, the next year is unexpectedly low, and now the scoundrel is worried that the IRS will audit everything, including the fraudulent years, if they challenge whether he's running a business at all. There's also cases where someone wants to hide illegal income by tweaking their legal business to show enough profit to explain their lifestyle, or for money laundering activities.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882602)

Hey, at least they're not racist. Charlie Rangel is black, and they gave him three free tries to get it right (oops, totally FORGOT about my villa, silly me). Let's face it-- the tax laws are, to misquote the President, "unsustainable" when both the chairman of the Ways and Means committee and the secretary of the Treasury (and back in 1938, the President; when FDR had to send a personal letter to the head of the IRS about the new tax rates he just jacked up) can't figure out their taxes.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

flappinbooger (574405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878822)

please. the IRS is very reasonable with mistakes.

Uh huh. Reasonable. About as reasonable as thugs with baseball bats hired by a loan shark with a hangover and a grudge.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877950)

Fine the Bastards

Yeah! Fine the government agency! It's not like we'll get higher taxes to pay for the fines or anything.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

shentino (1139071) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877992)

It still hurts at least temporarily because their budget gets a beating.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

Bureaucromancer (1303477) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878098)

But it's entirely artificial. One tax funded budget gets funds transferred to another tax funded budget. Its also not as if the IRS (or any agency) has funds sitting in a bank account somewhere, if they have to pay a fine they're just going to have to have a correspondingly bigger requisition to cover the fine and their own operations.

Re:Fine the Bastards (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878004)

Actually, when I've fucked up, they sent it back with a note saying that it appeared to be inaccurate, why it was inaccurate, and a number to call if I wanted the erroneuous one audited in lieu of correcting my mistake. All in all, not a problem, at all. Granted, it was a mistake, not fraud, but still, they were suprisingly non-hostile.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882528)

I had the same thing happen. Though I suspect that most of the lenience came because I had filed well before the April 15 deadline and still had time to correct my mistake, which makes things easier for everyone involved.

Re:Fine the Bastards (1)

EmagGeek (574360) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878262)

There is no law requiring the IRS to function properly. The onus is still on the taxpayer to ensure the IRS receives their paperwork on time, no matter what.

Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1, Flamebait)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877808)

Now might be a good time for the House of Representatives to look at HR.25 [loc.gov], and if they pass it, then getting the IRS back on its feet would suddenly become a VERY low priority.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877874)

Yes, if the government decided that it didn't need any tax revenue at all, and just decided to fold up shop and go away, then sure, getting the IRS running again would be a low priority.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (3, Informative)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877884)

Ah, the bill purports to replace all sources of tax revenue with a national sales tax. Good luck with that.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879524)

Ah, the bill purports to replace all sources of tax revenue with a national sales tax. Good luck with that.

But, that's regressive and will slow consumer spending, thus prolonging the recession. What's not to love? (end sarcasm). Oh, and before anybody contributes their $0.02, I know the economists said the recession is over. Economists are on crack. 'nuff said.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882762)

That's funny, because I read the bill (actually, just the index) and it repeals:
  • Income tax
  • Payroll tax
  • Estate and gift taxes

... because they aren't consumption taxes.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (0, Troll)

geekoid (135745) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877878)

Yes, because they would have no money and no middle class.

Dumb ass.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877932)

Yes, because they would have no money and no middle class.

Dumb ass.

Why is it that every time there is a proposal to make government smaller, less intrusive, etc, somebody invokes class warfare to try and shoot it down? The Fair Tax Act is the most well-researched piece of legislation in history. IN FUCKING HISTORY. It lacks such obvious flaws as "obliterate all of the middle class". The current regime is doing a fine job of that by maintaining the status quo. Care to come up with an actual non-FUD based criciticsm of it?

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878244)

How does incentivizing cash hording not widen the gap between the rich and the poor?

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

computerman413 (1122419) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878344)

I could ask you what the point of hoarding cash is, and if "the rich" intend to hold the money forever. Either you'll eventually spend it, or you'll die and your heirs will spend it.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879520)

Or you and your heirs will do the smart thing and let the principle sit there untouched, living off the interest and paying only a fraction of the national sales tax that would be paid if an amount equivalent to the principle were spent by those living at the poverty line.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

ooshna (1654125) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878540)

The "current regime" is just doing what the last regime and all following regimes are going to do. If you really think there are two parties anymore you need to open your eyes. Other than a very few differences (only to fight over to keep our minds off how bad we are getting fucked) they do the same things.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (3, Informative)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879502)

Okay, here's a non-FUD based criticism: sales taxes are heavily regressive. The less money you have, the more of your income is spent on taxable goods. The rich, the people who are most able to afford to pay taxes, pay an even smaller portion of their income in taxes than they would under a flat tax scheme. Contrary to the bill's stated intention of increasing class mobility, a national sales tax responsible for bearing the entire cost of the federal government would just dig the poverty trench deeper. The worse off you are now, you'll be even more worse off under a national sales tax plan. This plan would do more to obliterate the middle class and widen the gap between rich and poor than any other taxation plan available.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882688)

Just to thrown on my Devils Advocate hat for a moment...

A flat tax scheme is just about as egalitarian as you can get. Everyone pays the same. Every person pays the same tax on goods that they purchase. Incomes and accumulated wealth do not have a tax burden, but individual citizens do. Taxing the rich simply because they can pay more places an unequal tax burden on a very small portion of our society. "..from each according to his ability" is a historically un-American taxation strategy.

/Devils Advocate

I don't know what the right answer is. I do agree that a flat tax strategy will functionally eliminate class mobility. But that doesn't mean that it isn't the right thing to do. If as a society we decide that poor people are entitled to some forms of protection from onerous taxes then a national sales tax is a bad idea. If we take the idea of "every person being equal under the eyes of the law" to it's extreme logical conclusion then a flat tax system works.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (2, Insightful)

jjohnson (62583) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883858)

A flat tax is conceptually egalitarian, but I don't think so in practice. It's nice and neat to say "everyone pays the same proportion of taxes", but I wouldn't call it egalitarian for someone earning $10,000/year to pay the same proportion as someone earning $10,000,000/year. It's the same basic issue as with a national sales tax: When you're poor you pretty much have to spend your entire income, but when you're rich you have plenty of extra to invest or save or whatever. Limiting the egalitarian-ness of the tax to their income figure ignores the lack of egalitarian standing in how their income is spent and affects their life.

Most flat tax advocates recognize this and provide a set of basic exemptions to poor people, but then you're essentially back to a progressive tax where the rich pay a larger proportion of their income than many of those with less money.

The basic problem with taxation schemes is that they unavoidably implement social policy. There's no such thing as a value-neutral tax--someone is always paying more and someone else is always paying less, and the person paying less is either being protected from an onerous burden or encouraged to use their money elsewhere somehow.

So, I think a progressive tax is most egalitarian when it's set up well to minimize the tax burden on everyone and provide for the greatest class mobility.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

operagost (62405) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883202)

The less money you have, the more of your income is spent on taxable goods.

False. For one, there are additional taxes on some of the things the wealthy buy, like gas guzzlers and luxury tax. Two, most states don't change sales tax on food, clothing, or both. Three, most truly poor families simply pay ZERO income tax owing to dependents and other deductions. In fact, with the EIC they may get FREE MONEY from the treasury every year.

That being said, the sad fact is that poor people spend their money as soon as they have it in hand. When was the last time you went to a "poor" person's house and didn't see a few luxury items like a big TV, game console, or nice furniture? The middle class does the same thing, except they buy more "stuff" and put it on credit cards.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33883524)

For one, there are additional taxes on some of the things the wealthy buy, like gas guzzlers and luxury tax.

Erroneous! Erroneous on both accounts! The "wealthy" aren't the ones that buy gas guzzlers or luxury items. Those with high incomes and low net worth do. They are the BFFs of the IRS. Go read The Millionaire Next Door by Stanley and Danko. It'll change your perception on the "wealthy", guaranteed or you get a full refund on the cost of this post (minus restocking fee).

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883320)

Thanks for the non-FUD based criticism. Next time, could you try for an informed non-FUD based criticism?

If you read HR.25, you'll see that it includes a "prebate." Every head of household receives a check from the federal government each month to cover the tax that would be paid on necessities (for a family of 4, that check will be > $500/month). A family of 4 making around $50K per year would actually pay NO tax to the federal gov't (assuming they buy a used car instead of new, etc). That makes HR.25 very progressive. Under the current system, it is widely held that 1/2 of all Americans don't pay federal tax. This is a misconception. They don't pay Income tax, but the FICA (can't escape that unless you work FOR the gov't) is VERY regressive. That is eliminated with HR.25 (Social security is funded from general revenue, not a separate tax).

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

im_thatoneguy (819432) | more than 3 years ago | (#33887814)

Awesome so instead of my current system where I do nothing until the end of the year... spend a few minutes filling in some boxes and get back to my life I could depend on the government bureaucracy mailing me a check based on the same sort of form. How is that an improvement? I give them money... then they give me back money? Why not just let me keep my money?

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

Just_Say_Duhhh (1318603) | more than 3 years ago | (#33892146)

I'm guessing you don't really want an answer, but since you asked...

The HR.25 prebate does *not* require ANY form to be filled out. It is automatic. Under the current system, you have to do hours of paperwork to comply with your tax responsibility. That costs us billions in lost productivity annually. Under HR.25, all you need to do to support the federal government is buy stuff. NO paperwork by you, and a 4-line form (the same sales tax form that businesses are already filing) for retailers. They no longer have to do payroll taxes (PITA, just ask any small business owner), corporate taxes, FICA, etc.

Why a prebate? Simple. Rather than start making things complex with lots of exemptions (milk is exempt from tax, but cheese isn't, etc), the prebate allows for tax-free purchases by giving each household the money that they should be spending on tax for necessities. You don't have to use it to pay for the tax, you can buy crack and smoke it if you want. It just makes sure that the working poor are not burdened (unlike the current system that means working poor pay WAY MORE % of their paychecks in taxes than anyone else).

It would be great to just let you keep your money, but taxation is the price of living in a society. Hopefully, if HR.25 passes, you and everyone else will SEE how much the government gets, and will want to work on out-of-control government spending. THAT is the real problem!

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877914)

That's a swell idea. When the federal government implodes, we can all get together with our militia pals and run the country the way it *should* be!

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878680)

At least summarize the idea for people who don't know it.

Think about that widget you bought. You paid sales tax on it. The manufacturer had to buy parts to make that item. They had to pay sales tax on those items. Those suppliers had to buy items to make their item. sales tax.

Now, think about everything you buy. Sales tax isn't really 7-9%. Sellers adjust prices of items to account for their expenses. Whether you are talking about a cheeseburger or a computer, there are several layers of sales tax built into basically everything we buy.

There are a ton of pro and con arguments. But that's the jist.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

soundguy (415780) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878824)

The only entity that pays "sales tax" is the end purchaser. There is NO sales tax levied on any wholesale purchase. There is exactly ONE layer of sales tax on a finished product.

...also, the word is GIST. When you finally make it to high school, they'll teach you some basic English.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

pspahn (1175617) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879442)

This statement is not true. Wholesale purchases can be taxed by other municipalities. We have certain purchases that have been retroactively taxed by several cities because they were based on a delivered product, whether it was wholesale or not.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879562)

...also, the word is GIST. When you finally make it to high school, they'll teach you some basic English.

Seeing as how your "ONE layer of sales tax" and your "GIST" troll are independent clauses... you should capitalize the word "also".

Don't fucking troll. You suck at it.

Re:Can't we just leave the IRS down permanently? (1)

tophermeyer (1573841) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882766)

Just my $.02 and a little feedback:

Contracting Do not into Don't weakens the authority of the statement. This is not a hard and fast grammatical rule, merely an observation after reviewing countless arguments here on slashdot. Your statement would have more boom if you left it non contracted.

'Unplanned glitch' (5, Funny)

angry tapir (1463043) | more than 3 years ago | (#33877832)

Personally I like to plan my glitches.

Re:'Unplanned glitch' (3, Funny)

tool462 (677306) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878012)

Ditto. I schedule them for the day after I go on vacation to a remote tropical island with no cell reception or internet access.
It does two things for me:
1) I don't have to deal with fixing the glitch
2) It creates the impression that the company falls apart immediately if I'm not there.

Win freaking win, baby.

Re:'Unplanned glitch' (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878248)

Oddly enough, the first thing that came across my mind was to wonder if this was planned. How would the corruption/destruction of the tax database affect America's ability to address its debt? God knows, the rest of the world is anticipating an extreme state of economic administration, can't help but think this could be used as the catalyst.

CRA (Canada's IRS) had something similar in 2007 (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33877900)

http://www.cbc.ca/money/story/2007/03/07/tax-glitch.html

A roll out near a deadline? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878064)

Shame on them. They should have waited until *after* a critical date. A simple IT rule of thumb, never rollout or upgrade a major system near a critical date or during a critical time period. Another example would be upgrading a retailer's systems in the timespan between Xmas and Thanksgiving.

Having just said it, I am now waiting for Wal-Mart's (or other major retailer's) systems to go down the week of Dec. 24th after an "upgrade".

Re:A roll out near a deadline? (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878882)

I work for a large commercial real estate company and we won't be doing our planned ERP upgrade until after the close of Q1 due to the importance of year end and first quarter billing. Between the end of Q1 and the middle of Q3 nobody gives a darn what we take down or upgrade (other than email) but come the end of August lord help you if you have to do anything more than upgrade tax compliance tables.

Re:A roll out near a deadline? (1)

rjstanford (69735) | more than 3 years ago | (#33880662)

Shame on them. They should have waited until *after* a critical date. A simple IT rule of thumb, never rollout or upgrade a major system near a critical date or during a critical time period. Another example would be upgrading a retailer's systems in the timespan between Xmas and Thanksgiving.

Actually that's far safer than upgrading it during the inverse time between Thanksgiving and Christmas :)

Re:A roll out near a deadline? (1)

plopez (54068) | more than 3 years ago | (#33886558)

Hmmm... doesnt quite make sense. If you look at the timespan between Xmas and Thanksgiving as Mod365 under "+" operation then in terms of DOY, this year, then you need the inverse of the DOY between Thanksgiving (abbrev. "turkey") and Xmas (abbrev. obvious).

so you need the inverese of the series of DOY 359 through 329. Which would be 298-365=-36 in the case of turkey. The inverse of Xmas is 6, mod365. I don't see anything wrong with doing an upgrade in January and Feb.

The argument for leap years is left as an excercise.

Bonus point: show why DOY arithmatic forms a monoid under multiplication and the implication for inverse dates.

Re:A roll out near a deadline? (1)

Cro Magnon (467622) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881876)

A simple IT rule of thumb, never rollout or upgrade a major system near a critical date or during a critical time period.

One of the systems where I work had an upgrade just before the holiday weekend. The system was down Thursday & Friday, and the person in charge had only 1 day to handle glitches, do tech support, and keep everything running. I'm pretty sure she didn't do any posting on /. yesterday.

paper (1)

Jorgandar (450573) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878324)

I still file my taxes the old-fashioned way... via paper. So their system outage wont affect me. I would e-file, but why do them a favor? It takes me just as long to e-file as it does to fill out the paper form. And if the IRS is going to waste my time, i'm going to waste theirs. :p

Re:paper (1)

Artifakt (700173) | more than 3 years ago | (#33883880)

All you're doing is, you're hurting yourself (and maybe, arguably, other taxpayers). The IRS has informed all the commercial tax prep firms of their error rates in submissions, and often tells individual commercial tax preparers what their error rates are like. When they do this for a particular year, they tell us what the year's error rate for paper filers is like, and what the rate for the IRS's own temp agency help that types those paper returns into the computers is. I'm not going to argue over whether your personal error rate is higher than it would be with good software, or not, because it doesn't really matter. When you file by paper, your documents get turned over to temps in large cities such as Austin TX, or even the DC area itself. The temp contracts pay less than 10 dollars an hour. They have an average error rate of about 25% per return. (My own error rate is all on the right side of the decimal place, with a couple of zeros before it. A huge part of that is the software catching 90% plus of the possible errors, although I like to think my own professionalism adds another decimal place or so.). Congress has chosen to construct the IRS's annual budget so as to specifically fill these positions with seasonal temp labor, supposedly to save taxpayer money, but given the quality, I don't see any overall benefit from the cost cutting. I know some agents who have real doubts about the effects it puts on their case load and whether it's saving anything at all.
          Paper also adds the time spent in the US mail system. If you're getting a refund, it delays it, and if you owe, the IRS will deposit the check while those temps are still keying in the return, and if you're counting on the delay to get funds in to cover your payment, that will probably be the time the mail runs efficiently.
          I mostly do commercial prep, now specializing in S corps. About the only private returns I bother with are a few old clients and some involving K-1s for some SF authors or their estates, and that last is for the fun of hearing industry gossip, and occasional autographed copies. You just got advice you probably couldn't afford, unless you are in the top bracket.

Already an old story (3, Informative)

astro (20275) | more than 3 years ago | (#33878502)

Perhaps I'm just not trying to use a part of the system that is down, but I filed for an extension this year, e-filed about 3 weeks ago, and got a very clear "Down For Maintenance" message when I went to check the status of my refund yesterday. The message included an estimated date for the system to be back up (10/12 - today), and indeed it was. Poking around a little, it appears that the rest of the e-file system is also functional at this time (though I don't care enough to do an exhaustive search for broken things, having fulfilled my immediate needs).

The post office needs the money (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33878912)

Given the sorry state of the post offices finances, why not ban efiling and let everyone send their return return reciept requested, At $5+ a pop it would help the post office out.

A Common Problem (1)

NicknamesAreStupid (1040118) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879188)

This happens every time they try to dust the relays on their Mark-I. They forget to oil the camshaft, too.

Re:A Common Problem (1)

flyingfsck (986395) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879686)

When I was a student (1980s), I worked for a giant telco as an apprentice during university holidays. They still had some electromechanical phone exchanges in the small towns and I serviced a few uni-selector switches. Those were amazing machines, complete with mechanical registers (memory) and with proper maintenance, they lasted forever. By the 1980s they were just barely run in, but they were being replaced with small electronic switches.

"Holiday" weekend? (3, Funny)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#33879384)

I had to look at a calendar to figure out what the summary meant by "holiday weekend." It's hard to believe Columbus Day is still recognized by anyone after the fourth grade. 1492, Nina, Pinta, Santa Maria -- that's it. That's his entire legacy.

Really, the guy was a world-class failure. I mean if he had done his job right, these sentences would be in Italian. Even the guy who came after him managed to get the continents named for himself. Now, all he has is Columbia, and even they speak Spanish!

Re:"Holiday" weekend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879634)

Columbus sailed for Spain, not Italy.

Re:"Holiday" weekend? (1)

Un pobre guey (593801) | more than 3 years ago | (#33884126)

Not to mention that Americo Vespucci [wikipedia.org] had nothing to do personally with naming the continents. plover is evidently not well versed in the relevant history. Columbus [wikipedia.org] was a powerful and influential figure during the early parts of the Spanish Conquest. To consider him a "world-class failure" is a laughable oversimplification of the facts.

Re:"Holiday" weekend? (1)

plover (150551) | more than 3 years ago | (#33889608)

To consider him a "world-class failure" is a laughable oversimplification of the facts.

Good, so you laughed. That was the entire frakkin' point.

Poking annoyingly sharp objects in the historians' sides was just a bonus.

Re:"Holiday" weekend? (1)

SonnyDog09 (1500475) | more than 3 years ago | (#33881588)

Also, Columbus Day isn't even a real holiday. Like President's Day, it is a "Bankers and Civil Servants Holiday." The rest of us have to work.

IRC (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33879804)

Whoa, for a second there I read it as "IRC Servers Down During Crucial Week," and I was like "Oh gnfos!"

Gov servers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33881980)

We can only hope the new health-care "Patient data sharing system" that the government is going to set will be this stable, Right?

I've been on the internet. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#33881992)

I read it as "IRC Servers Down During Crucial Week" and immediately thought- "Wait, what could take down multiple servers, and what's going on on the internet that this is a crucial week for IRC?"

people who wait 10 months to file deserve it (1)

peter303 (12292) | more than 3 years ago | (#33882448)

All required data is supposed to be sent to the taxpayer in one month anyways.
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