IRS Promises Power Outage Won't Delay Refunds

February 10, 2016

By Susan J. Campbell - Power Protection Contributing Editor

Could there be better news when it comes to a power outage than the IRS unable to process federal tax returns? There may be many working on the outside trying to restore power, but this is one area where we may not want to suggest power protection. The idea that you can put off the inevitable just one more day when resources are limited sounds like an extra holiday – if you’re one who owes money.

A simple power outage was blamed when the agency stopped work on 2015 federal tax return processing. According to a Tampa Bay news report, a suspected hardware failure knocked out service to some of the agency’s computers. Unfortunately for all taxpayers affected, processing was able to resume around 5 p.m. Feb. 4 after IRS teams worked on the problem.

All kidding aside, power protection is an important investment for any organization that needs to stay on track and online – especially during its busiest time of year. The “Where’s My Refund” function on the IRS.gov website was also affected, but was quickly restored. The agency then focused on notifying taxpayers and preparation firms that had e-filed their 2015 returns just before or during the outage that no additional action was needed.

This is important news for those taxpayers awaiting a refund. The agency claims that nine out of 10 of those who are due money back tend to receive the expected refund within 21 days. IRS Commissioner John Koskinen shared, "Taxpayers should see little, if any, impact on their tax returns or refunds. We apologize for the inconvenience this caused, and we appreciate the support and patience from taxpayers as well as our partners in the tax community and state revenue departments."

Of course, those who are seeking more details from the IRS have found themselves with just more questions. The agency is not offering any additional information as to the power outage or any power protection they have put in place to protect systems in the future. Some have even suggested the outage was not an equipment malfunction, but instead an attack by hackers. The agency has yet to respond to questions regarding the potential.

Even while silent on this issue, the agency has been the victim of cyberattacks as recent as last year when $39 million was stolen in fraudulent tax refunds. Of course this is more of an issue of faulty systems where fraudulent returns are too easy to file as opposed to faulty power protection.

Either way, it’s time for the IRS to take robust steps in protection all the way around. Taxpayers don’t want to wait for a refund or spend the time trying to prove their identity when a fraudulent return has already been processed. Minuteman can help with the power protection, but the other issues will need even more focused attention.