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Bug Government The Almighty Buck United States Hardware

IRS Computer Problems Shut Down Tax Return E-file System (foxnews.com) 176

Mr.Intel writes: The IRS stopped accepting electronically filed tax returns Wednesday because of problems with some of its computer systems. The outage could affect refunds, but the agency said it doesn't anticipate "major disruptions." A "hardware failure" forced the shutdown of several tax processing systems, including the e-file system, the IRS said in a statement. The IRS.gov website remains available, but "where's my refund" and other services are not working. Some systems will be out of service at least until Thursday, the agency said. "The IRS is currently in the process of making repairs and working to restore normal operations as soon as possible," the IRS said.
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IRS Computer Problems Shut Down Tax Return E-file System

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    MFM hard drives don't last forever.

  • Really, just "let it be done" that governments print whatever they need to pay their expenses and eliminate the IRS once and for all.

    • by thaylin ( 555395 ) on Thursday February 04, 2016 @11:26AM (#51438911)

      Just because it is fiat does not mean you want it worthless. Money still has value, under your plan it would not.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Money has no intrinsic value. The worth of money is in what people believe it can be exchanged for. If you flood a market with currency, it will not take long before even the text on the bills claiming that they are "legal tender for all debts, public and private" and the threat of governmental force against those who would refuse the currency are not enough to retain any value.

      The USA has an economic advantage from the US dollar being an accepted international trade currency. Foreign currency speculatio

      • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

        Not quite right. Money is a representation of the value of labor. Eliminating the IRS would eliminate many wasted hours spent on enforcing a myriad of obtuse tax loopholes.

        • And the steady inflation would discourage saving of cash, promoting spending. You still have to find a way to keep money in the country, though. Otherwise you'll just have to print money too fast.

          • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

            Ahh, but spending is what keeps an economy moving.

            • Ahh, but spending is what keeps an economy moving.

              Right, but you need money to be spent in your local economy to keep the local economy moving... not in the economy of Dubai or whatever, unless you happen to live there

              • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

                High wages would enable people to spend more. Here in the US businesses are doing their best to keep them low though.

      • by halivar ( 535827 )

        The Fifth Zimbabwean Dollar was worth 100 trillion Fourth Zimbabwean Dollars.

      • by number6x ( 626555 ) on Thursday February 04, 2016 @12:27PM (#51439395)

        Correct, money has no intrinsic economic value. Just like gold, silver and diamonds. The economic value any of these things have is the value that people, as a whole, give to them.

        we usually use them all (money, gold, etc) as place holders for exchange of goods, services or labour.

        Note: Gold and silver do have some intrinsic value in electronic circuitry, diamonds as industrial abrasives. However, this value is small compared to their main use is as objects of art, decoration and as place holders of economic value.

        • Except precious metals are no longer acknowledged as currency. As of 2012, only a small fraction [businessinsider.com] of currency has gold backing. In the US and UK, the amount of currency that is backed by gold is roughly 5% (according to that article, not sure about 2016 values).
    • Good thinking! (Score:5, Informative)

      by Tailhook ( 98486 ) on Thursday February 04, 2016 @11:53AM (#51439117)

      That's a great idea. Not surprisingly your plan is shared by other brilliant folks, such as Venezuela's new economy czar Luis Salas. He has pointed out that "inflation does not exist." Specifically, the traditional Western economic model that claims printing money devalues currency is bogus and all price increases are merely the result of the parasitic businesses seeking excessive profits. Therefore government should do as you say and print whatever funds they require while diligently preventing greedy speculators from raising prices.

      And it's a good thing, too. Prior do Luis Salas's incredible insights Venezuela's fortunes were looking pretty bleak. Doubtless his printing presses will be able to turn all of that around and the rest of the world will be thrilled to restock PDVAL's shelves in exchange for beautiful new bolivars. Why, only yesterday we learned that Luis is importing newly printed cash [wsj.com] by the planeload to implement this strategy.

      So thankfully your thinking has been adopted in the nick of time and saved Venezuela from collapse. Good work.

      • by EzInKy ( 115248 )

        If the Venezuelan government says a Llama is equal to one Bolivar than a Llama is equal to one Bolivar. That assumes of course the Venezuelan has enough guns to make that so.

        • Guns are not required. Economic value is.

        • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

          If the Venezuelan government says a Llama is equal to one Bolivar than a Llama is equal to one Bolivar.

          Sure it does. And if that means the one Bolivar Llama is entirely theoretical because all the real Llamas are elsewhere being traded at market prices, then that's just greedy speculators undermining the revolution.

      • The only thing that will save Venezuela from collapse is if the CIA would stop meddling in their affairs. They still see the entirety of South America as US puppets to fuck with whenever they desire.
    • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Thursday February 04, 2016 @12:05PM (#51439215) Journal

      The IRS is certainly an expense, partly because the tax code is extremely complex and partly because the US government is designed with efficiency as a top priority. However, getting rid of taxes and printing money doesn't actually work - it's been tried more than once. Google "hyperinflation" for some examples.

      The crux of it is that if the government prints whatever money they need, they end up "needing" trillions of dollars. Even voting on spending on stop it; 51% of people will vote for "free" health care, "free" college education, "free" housing, "free" cell phones, "free" solar companies, etc. If the people don't have to pay for these things fairly directly through taxes, they vote to spend like a drunken Ted Kennedy on amateur night at the strip club.

      So the government prints a shit-ton of dollars to pay for all this stuff. The actual value of the dollar, aka prices, is set by supply and demand. Printing more dollars reduces the value of the existing dollars. (The value of each dollar is separate from the government declaring that the official money is called the dollar, aka fiat.) So the value of the dollar falls when the government prints a bunch. The next month, the government needs to pay their bills again. Remember now the value if each dollar is less, so they have to print more in order to pay their bills. Printing more reduces the value of the dollar again, so the next month they have to print even more. In about a year, the dollar becomes basically worthless. At that point people stop using the official currency and switch to another country's currency.

      Since the US became a super-power through WWII, several countries with local currency that was hyperinflated by their government printing it switched to the US dollar, specfically because the US dollar is stable. The number printed isn't decided by the government, but by an independent board tasked with keeping the value properly "stable". (Properly stable here means slight inflation because slight inflation reduces unemployment).

      • by raymorris ( 2726007 ) on Thursday February 04, 2016 @12:13PM (#51439293) Journal

        That should read:
        because the US government is NOT designed with efficiency as a top priority.

        Bi-cameral legislature isn't efficient, it would be more efficient to have one body. In fact, debate isn't efficient, it would be more efficient to have all the decisions made by Kim Jong Obama. Public hearings certainly aren't efficient. It's not efficient to have courts examine the Constitutionality of federal laws. Obama once taught a course on the Constitution, it would be more efficient to just assume he knows what he's doing and all of his decisions are constitutional. But we've decided that when it comes to the federal government, some things are more important than efficiency.

      • ...and partly because the US government is designed with efficiency as a top priority.

        LOL!!!

        OMG....you pretty much made me spew my hot tea on my monitor with that one.....

        Haha...good one!!

    • Are you posting from Zimbabwe? Because that's a strategy that worked out so well for Robert Mugabe [wikipedia.org], and also for the Weimar Republic 100 years ago. [wikipedia.org]

    • by moeinvt ( 851793 )

      Government doesn't print money (or even do the digital equivalent). They borrow money from private banks and the Federal Reserve. The personal income tax (which was passed at roughly the same time as the Federal Reserve was established) is merely the federal government's tool for guaranteeing that the bankers will always get their interest payments.

    • You can't eliminate the Irs even in a flat tax. Doing so means you stop caring whether or not people are being accurate with their tax bills.

      99% of the irs job is verifying that the income you report and pay taxes on is equal to the income you actually took in.

      In a country without an irs net revuene from taxes would fall to a million dollars after the first year or two. I know I would only claim an income of a few hundred dollars. As I would count everything I spent first.

      Stop being stupid.

  • LLS, carry on.
  • My fault (Score:5, Funny)

    by DigiShaman ( 671371 ) on Thursday February 04, 2016 @11:32AM (#51438957) Homepage

    Sorry everyone! It's my fault. I just e-filed the day before because I'm due for a big refund. They didn't like that, so conveniently a hardware problem occurred. :(

  • Tax Returns??? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by acoustix ( 123925 )

    Why do people give the government an interest free loan? Getting money back from the IRS is wasteful. Let your money work for you during the year (investments) and then pay the government if necessary.

    • A lot of people simply don't understand how the system works. One of my in-laws convinced her husband to put in 0 withholding allowances (or maybe 1; I forget) for years, ending up with a huge refund. Mind you, they had several children, so it was a relatively immense check. I think she thought somehow this was a hack that got them free money. Meanwhile, he had to borrow money from his own kids sometimes, because his cash flow was so bad.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        A lot of people simply don't understand how the system works. One of my in-laws convinced her husband to put in 0 withholding allowances (or maybe 1; I forget) for years, ending up with a huge refund. Mind you, they had several children, so it was a relatively immense check. I think she thought somehow this was a hack that got them free money. Meanwhile, he had to borrow money from his own kids sometimes, because his cash flow was so bad.

        Possibly, or it was a hack she used on her husband. It's hard to justify big expenses when you've got a little extra money coming in each month, but if you suddenly get a check for $8k...."honey, lets take that Caribbean cruise I've conveniently been planning since last April (when we 'unexpectedly' got that $8k tax refund and took our European tour)"

        • I don't disagree with this philosophy. Yes the government is using your money and giving it back without interest. Yes you should be investing that money instead of letting the government keep it all year. But in the real world, having a 'bonus' of money at the beginning of the year, even if it's my money, and even if its money the government should have given to me throughout the year, is something I'm ok with. There are some things that make sense logically that just don't work in the real word, and I
    • Because the US Tax Code is so fucked that some people don't ever know if they will be getting a refund or owe more until they do the paperwork in February.

      I am one of those people. Last year I owed, this year I'm getting a refund.

    • Re:Tax Returns??? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by moeinvt ( 851793 ) on Thursday February 04, 2016 @12:14PM (#51439307)

      The $5 in interest I would have earned by depositing that wealth in a money market account isn't worth the risk of paying too little and being fined. Nor is it worth expending the time and effort required to ensure that I pay the minimum necessary to avoid the penalty.

      • I do this every year. If you can't pay in full by April 15th you get a very small fine and (thanks to out right wing congress) interest penalties. It's still a fraction of even the best credit card rates and they try hard to work with you. I've had some rough patches due to family illnesses and I'd take the IRS as a creditor over any one else.
    • Because one of the top triggers for an audit is underpayment of taxes. I try to break even, but shade towards a small refund. Been through the grist mill once with the IRS, never, ever want to do it again.
    • Well considering that I seem to only be able to get my total additional yearly tax bill to +-$1500 each year it is pretty difficult. I don't like the loan but when you have variable income sources that come in as 1099-MISC from prize winnings, my wife quilts and some years she does well at shows and other years not so much. Between some years the swing in income is almost $10,000 so it is kind of hard to deal with that other than put some of the winnings aside to cover the taxes.
  • The IRS is an evil entity spawned by crooks who only want to pay off their lobbyist cohorts for political payola and apply pork barrel pandering to their constituents. Even worse, it seems to be managed by those who have no idea how to set up a computer system. Instead of a complex tax code and an IRS, set a percentage of a wage and make everyone pay. That's the only fair way to do it. Those who make more will pay more.

    • Instead of a complex tax code and an IRS, set a percentage of a wage and make everyone pay. That's the only fair way to do it. Those who make more will pay more.

      Corporations don't earn wages, I'll just have my corporation own everything and I won't pay anything, easy peasy.

      • Then the IRS gets to estimate the value of the housing expense you're given by your corporation, the value of your transportation you're provided by your corporation, and so on. Income isn't just monetary funds; it's any compensation applied for working. So if you live in corporate housing, and have a corporately-owned car - that's compensation that will be taxed.
    • by Nidi62 ( 1525137 )

      set a percentage of a wage and make everyone pay. That's the only fair way to do it. Those who make more will pay more.

      A percentage on wage is grossly unfair, as all those executives and CXO's who get paid a salary of $1 but get millions worth of stock options would literally pay pennies in taxes. The only fair way would be a percentage of all income:wages, capital gains, disbursements from foundations/non-profits/corporations, etc.

      • You're someone who never cashed in options, are you? When you have the options - they have potential value, but no real value until exercised. Then you get to pay income tax on the realized gains of those options (because they are realized in less than 1 year time - you typically exercise and sell on the same day, or at least within a week).

        Now, you CAN take out loans against the value of your options, if the options are for publicly traded stocks. But then you're essentially mortgaging your future for p

    • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Thursday February 04, 2016 @12:20PM (#51439345) Journal

      I work on a team that writes billing and invoicing software for my company. I can tell you with first hand experience that accountants have no fucking clue how a computer works, other than what they can do in Excel. Because of this, they want to do EVERYTHING in Excel whether it's even remotely the right tool or not.

      Example: someone wants to export the general ledger from the billing system to an Excel spreadsheet, and doesn't understand why a two million row data set might be a problem for Excel.

      These issues are exactly why "Business Intelligence" tools exist - to provide Excel-ish functions, backed by a real database. But they don't want to hear that, because it means that Excel might actually have limits, and they would have to learn a new tool.

      Getting closer to TFA, I'm sure that somewhere in the IRS they have honest-to-goodness network engineers who set this shit up, or at least contractors that they paid to do it. Hardware failures happen in any data center, and you try to mitigate with redundancy and automatic fail-over. But it's never perfect, there's always something that gets missed, or something that doesn't work exactly as expected.

      • by RyoShin ( 610051 )

        Because of this, they want to do EVERYTHING in Excel whether it's even remotely the right tool or not.

        You. You are a true comrade, you understand my pain (being the solo developer for a small payroll/accounting "firm").

        You know my sorrow. Let us weep together.

  • A "hardware failure" forced the shutdown of several Vax processing systems

    There, fixed that for you...

  • It's called paper and the postal service.
  • Keep the government out of our income taxes!

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