Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
The Almighty Buck Government United States News

Crunch Time For IRS Data Centers 277

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the bits-and-bucks dept.
1sockchuck writes "It's crunch time for the Internal Revenue Service. As the IRS processes the annual crescendo of returns around today's tax deadline, the state of the agency's infrastructure depends upon who you ask. IT executives at the IRS say it has made huge strides in modernizing its data centers, which processed 139 million returns and issued $298 billion in refunds in 2009. Independent tests say the IRS web site is the fastest US government site, and one of the fastest on the web. But a key government watchdog, the Government Accountability Office, says the modernization effort hasn't moved quickly enough, and continues to fault the IRS for security weaknesses."
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Crunch Time For IRS Data Centers

Comments Filter:
  • Good for them (Score:2, Insightful)

    Its crunch time to process their robberies
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How 'bout them roads you drove to work on today?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You mean the ones built buy my state?

      • Always the roads (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        Sure, if you want to put it that way, I'll admit that I use about 5-10% of what I pay for when it comes to government. And I'm barely even middle-class.

        Let's put this into perspective: we're talking about the most expensive, most powerful government AND world empire (with military bases in some 150 countries) in history. If you don't think the US government has WAY more money than a government needs to provide useful government services, then either you're not thinking hard enough, or you're in the business

        • by mea37 (1201159)

          If you want to debate specific uses of federal money, do it on an issue-by-issue basis. Your problem in that case is with the government's priorities, not with the tax. That the tax might be lower if priorities were as you prefer them is a symptom, not the problem.

          Furthermore, while "5-10%" isn't very precise, it's still a very specific claim to be throwing around without supporting numbers. Should you elect to try to provide numbers in support of that calim, don't forget to account for the fact that 2/3

      • Re:Good for them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:04PM (#31858860)

        This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the U.S. Department of Energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by a municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC-regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like, using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

        I watched this while eating my breakfast of U.S. Department of Agriculture-inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

        At the appropriate time, as regulated by the U.S. Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the U.S. Naval Observatory, I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration-approved automobile and set out to work on the roads build by the local, state, and federal Departments of Transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve Bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to be sent out via the U.S. Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

        After spending another day not being maimed or killed at work thanks to the workplace regulations imposed by the Department of Labor and the Occupational Safety and Health administration, enjoying another two meals which again do not kill me because of the USDA, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to my house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and Fire Marshal's inspection, and which has not been plundered of all its valuables thanks to the local police department. And then I log on to the internet -- which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on Freerepublic.com and Fox News forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can't do anything right.

        • by WillAdams (45638)

          ::applause::

          Funniest thing I've read in _forever_.

          William

        • by darjen (879890)

          haha, yeah man, without the government we would all be dead! or at very least we would all be injured on the job! thank god for bureaucrats!

        • False dilemma (Score:3, Interesting)

          by mahsah (1340539)

          Your argument is a false dilemma; either the government will provide these things, or they will not be provided. It ignores the alternative of other institutions providing them.

          • Re:False dilemma (Score:5, Insightful)

            by eln (21727) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:54PM (#31859632) Homepage
            Mankind has been around for hundreds of thousands of years, and yet these services only became available when the government stepped in and provided them. Read up on working conditions during the Gilded Age before all of the various safe employment laws and agencies were created for one example. You can also read up on the deplorable conditions in meat packing plants before the USDA stepped in.

            So, when exactly were all of these other institutions going to get around to providing any of this stuff? People keep saying if we got rid of the government the private sector would provide, but the fact is the private sector worked without significant government intervention for quite a long time, and it sucked ass for anyone not belonging to the moneyed elite.
          • Re:False dilemma (Score:4, Insightful)

            by Colonel Korn (1258968) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:55PM (#31859650)

            Your argument is a false dilemma; either the government will provide these things, or they will not be provided. It ignores the alternative of other institutions providing them.

            He doesn't imply that they wouldn't be otherwise provided. He states that they are provided as a justification for taxes. Some of those agencies do things that I think would be better done through other means, but I recognize that the money I pay actually does go to something, or many somethings.

          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            I know I'd just love it if I had several different competing police departments to choose from. What could go wrong there?

        • by steelfood (895457)

          Some inaccuracies:

          1) The USPS is self-sufficient. They do not get money from the Congress' budget.
          2) The Federal Reserve is not the one who prints money. The US Mint is. The Federal Reserve is what keeps the money worth what it is (or at least tries to).
          3) A significant amount of tax money goes to defense research. While there is certainly trickle-down effect (the internet being one), the majority of the research stays behind closed doors. Yet, this "defense" budget has done little for US citizens except in

          • by eln (21727)

            The Federal Reserve is not the one who prints money. The US Mint is. The Federal Reserve is what keeps the money worth what it is (or at least tries to).

            That's not quite right. The US Mint only makes coins, not paper money. The US Bureau of Engraving and Printing makes paper money. All currency, though, is distributed (or "issued") after it's been created by the Federal Reserve, so the OP is not really factually incorrect.

          • Well the USPS isn't really self sufficient. It is illegial to compete with them.

            Because of this they can average the cost of mailing a letter to 0.42$. It is less expensive to mail that letter within say Atlanta, but much more expensive to mail it to Honolulu. Now the lack of competition comes into play so UPS, or FedEX can't start running a tiered cost letter operation because 80% (probably something +- 19%) of all letters could be delivered at lower cost, and drop the total mail the USPS handles. Thus r
        • I want to start yelling now: BEST SLASHDOT POST I HAVE EVER READ! I want to use caps. I want to YELL!
        • In the US, the main complaint isn't that many of these functions of government are not needed, it is just that they are not needed at a Federal level, with the extra overhead, inefficiency, and distancing of control from "the people" that are being served.

          A computer analogy; The Founders thought they were setting up a heterogeneous distributed network with minimal centralized control (the Constitution) and each State was supposed to have the leeway to operate the best way for each.

          To bring it around t
      • by Shakrai (717556)

        How 'bout them roads you drove to work on today?

        I'd like to believe that we could find a way to fund infrastructure projects without the Rube Goldberg machine that is the United States tax code. In the ideal world I would be able to figure out my taxes with nothing more than my year end paystub and a multiplication operation.

        • And that is the big issue for most of us. I don't mind paying taxes (to some reasonable extent). It should be fair, transparent and should NOT require the hiring of an expert nor should it require weeks of fighting with some remarkably complex software. While manipulation of the tax code for social purposes does work to a limited extent, we've managed to take it to insane heights with no real attempts to climb down.
        • by Tackhead (54550)

          I'd like to believe that we could find a way to fund infrastructure projects without the Rube Goldberg machine that is the United States tax code. In the ideal world I would be able to figure out my taxes with nothing more than my year end paystub and a multiplication operation.

          A lot of the bloat on the tax forms is breaking down simple mathematical formulae (Pay "3% of everything over $12345") into 10-line sequences of arithmetical operations. "Copy line 1 to line 2. Subtract 12345 from line 2. If the

        • by AndersOSU (873247)

          I'll agree that the US tax code is over-complex, but the fundamental problem is that things like "income" are actually very hard to define.

          We know that rich people tend to have more complicated finances, which makes it easier for them to obfuscate their actual income than poor people. Thus a simple tax would tend to shift the tax burden from the rich to the poor. On the other hand, moneyed interests have been pretty adroit at inserting favorable positions for themselves into the tax code, limiting their t

          • by Shakrai (717556)

            We know that rich people tend to have more complicated finances, which makes it easier for them to obfuscate their actual income than poor people.

            Says who? Capital gains can't be easily obfuscated. Dividends can't be easily obfuscated. Both are reportable to the IRS and both flow into a bank account sooner or later.

            Thus a simple tax would tend to shift the tax burden from the rich to the poor.

            On the other hand, moneyed interests have been pretty adroit at inserting favorable positions for themselves into the tax code, limiting their tax liability, the elimination of these loop-holes would tend to shift the tax burden from the poor to the rich.

            Well, I guess I don't need to dispute your point when you did it for me :)

            So I guess the moral of the story is that it's impossible to have a (fair) tax system that you can figure out with your paystub and a multiplication operation

            Who gets to decide what's "fair"? I don't regard it as fair that 47% of the country pays no income tax whatsoever. They should have to pay something -- even if it's only 1% -- otherwise they have absolutely no incentive to care about what the Government is doi

      • How 'bout them roads you drove to work on today?

        Not a single dime of federal income tax goes to build/maintain roads or any other piece of infrastructure. Most of it goes to pay off interest on the national debt.

  • processed 139 million returns and issued $298 billion in refunds

    The only image in my mind as I read that sentence is: a young programmer, a quality control analist and a tester all with red faces and slaughtered lamb eyes, while I hold an anomaly notice document on my hands.

    The document has a post it stuck on the right, so the line of zeroes can extend beyond the paper's limit.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Hatta (162192)

      By those numbers the average refund is $2143.88. WTF.

      • Mean and median are two entirely different things. I can easily see a relatively small percentage of people really skewing the numbers.

      • by Pojut (1027544)

        I obviously can't speak for others, but we purposely claim "0" on our paychecks so that more than necessary is taken out...sure, we could use that little bit of extra money throughout the year, but we like getting the big honkin' checks when we file. They're useful for buying that expensive gadget we've been holding out on or to bolster our savings.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by vxice (1690200)
          or you could just save in a bank account. even your wallet or a shoe box under the bed would work if you don't have access to a bank.
          • by Pojut (1027544)

            We do save a bit from each paycheck, but this way ensures we save even more. Since we have no access to it until we get a check back for the amount that we overpaid, we can't spend any of it. Once we get our returns we deposit them into our savings in one fell swoop. It seems silly to have to do it this way, I know, but it helps keep us on track.

            If we were The Watchmen, we would be watching ourselves.

            • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

              by Red Flayer (890720)
              I used to do the same thing... but found an easy way to make sure I didn't have easy access to the money, but could still earn interest on it during the year.

              Set up automatic withdrawals from your regular bank account(s), to be deposited into an investment account. It's very cheap to do, and if you seed it with a few thousand when you set it up, you won't get hit with monthly fees for maintaining a low balance. Different banks have different products for this kind of service, so talk to your banker.

              Yo
        • by nedlohs (1335013)

          I realize interest rates are low at the moment, but you really feel the need to loan the government money at 0%?

          Your money management skills are so bad that you can't put some money in saving account instead of spending it?

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            you know, i used to agree with you 100%. I aim for a zero refund (which is hard with the way tax rules are changing so quickly). But then I had a change of heart when I realized not everyone is like me.

            Some folks aren't as disciplined with savings, and this is a way they force themselves to save. I think it is wonderful when people realize their areas of relative weakness and work around it. If someone has a drinking problem... is it so bad that they avoid driving by the neighborhood bar? Sure, it might be

            • by Pojut (1027544)

              Parent pretty much has it right. We do save money out of each paycheck, but not nearly as much as we would like to...we can't help it, we like shiny stuff :/

              The way around it was preventing us from having ANY access to some bit of money that we would get in one or two checks once a year. We have gotten much better over the past couple of years, and in another year or two can probably start aiming for getting less of a return...but for now, it is helping us save. We already make plenty of money to pay our

        • Re:Oopsies! (Score:5, Informative)

          by smooth wombat (796938) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:18PM (#31859072) Homepage Journal
          but we like getting the big honkin' checks when we file.

          So you like giving the government an interest free loan? You do realize you could be getting interest (albeit small) on the money which could then be used to pay for that expensive gadget.

          It's one thing to game the system by using the one-month float on a credit card. It's quite another to float the government a nearly year-long, interest-free loan.
          • by Reason58 (775044)
            Back when you could get a savings account with 5% APY I would agree with this wholeheartedly. Now that most institutions offer less than 1% APY it really makes me question if the effort is worth it for what amounts to one movie ticket.
            • Back when you could get a savings account with 5% APY I would agree with this wholeheartedly. Now that most institutions offer less than 1% APY it really makes me question if the effort is worth it for what amounts to one movie ticket.

              Effort?

              You log into your bank site, set up a recurring transfer, and log out. That takes what, three minutes?

              Even if you get no interest back at all, you get to see exactly how much you've saved at any time, and can withdraw on your own schedule, not the government's. Even the most inconvenient and obtuse bank is easier to deal with than the IRS.

            • Effort?

              You log into your bank site, set up a recurring transfer, and log out. That takes, what, three minutes?

              Even if you get no interest back at all, you get to see exactly how much you've saved at any time, and can withdraw on your own schedule, not the government's. Even the most inconvenient and obtuse bank is easier to deal with than the IRS.

          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            by jr0dy (943553)
            Particularly when government entities are becoming less and less solvent. Many states are temporarily suspending refund issuance right now because they simply can't cover them; California issued IOU's last year. The IRS actually implemented the option of receiving your refund in the form of U.S. Treasury Bonds this year - somewhat fishy, IMO. Let's hope that next year Treasury Bonds don't become the only option for refunds - even more reason to target your liability and close as possible, and err to the
      • by xaxa (988988)

        By those numbers the average refund is $2143.88. WTF.

        Doesn't it annoy 45% of Americans that the government holds $2k of their money, giving it back in April? There must be a better way!

        (Like the way I pay tax: the correct amount straight out of my paycheque every month.)

        • Easier said than done. I used to get an almost "0" or pay a small amunt each year. However, now I am not even remotely able to guess. Why? The rules on deductions keep changing. I ended up with close to a grand back because of graduate school deductions, child care deductions and other items that I didn't anticipate.

          And frankly, the number of write offs is ridiculous. I would much rahter have a system that is more transparent and more simple. As much as I make, I should be paying a higher percentage of inco

          • by xaxa (988988)

            It would be simpler if the organisation (e.g. university) dealt with the tax.

            For example, if you visit a museum in the UK and pay an entry fee you can sign a form declaring that you paid normal UK income tax on that money. The museum then claims the tax back in bulk. I give them £10, they get £10 from me and claim £2.50 from the government.

            I don't know if you could make this work for bigger things (education, child care) but it would cut out a lot of paperwork for individuals.

          • by AndersOSU (873247)

            What hidden taxes?

            The only one I know about is the AMT - which is a serious problem. And if you hit it, you certainly won't be complaining about nickles and dimes.

            You seem to be complaining that the government is making you pay less than you expected.

        • by RKThoadan (89437)

          Read the posts above you. Many people actually like it because they get that big check. Many of those people don't quite grasp that they are giving the govt a 0% loan, but some of them understand exactly what is happening (like the guy above) and are fine with it because they are terrible at managing money and aren't motivated enough to look into alternatives.

        • by russotto (537200)

          Doesn't it annoy 45% of Americans that the government holds $2k of their money, giving it back in April? There must be a better way!

          If you can predict your income and deductions and set your withholding (W-4) or pay your estimated taxes appropriately, you can end up with a near-zero refund or liability at the end of the year. Most of it isn't the IRSs fault; people either don't bother to do this or want the big check. It doesn't help that if your end-of-year liability is too high, you can be liable for a

          • It's hard to predict. I have no kids and single. I should have '0'. However I started out work with 2. I've been increasing each year. Between mortgage deduction, student loans, etc etc. I'm up to 4 now and I'm still getting money back from the US.

            In Illinois I claim 0 and am getting almost $100 back each year.

      • Re:Oopsies! (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:09PM (#31858938) Journal

        By those numbers the average refund is $2143.88. WTF.

        Not surprising to me. My wife was bitching at me last night because we paid in less than $50 instead of getting a multi-thousand-dollar refund like her friends at work. They're all blowing the cash on down payments for new cars, vacations to the Caribbean, etc. Meanwhile, I continue to budget for the big-ticket items and save for them on a monthly basis.

        So I told her that she wasn't bitching when she was spending the extra $200 she took home each month, and she wasn't bitching when she saw the amount I had put into savings from my pay last year.

        Needless to say, I slept on the couch.

        But the point is that among people who get a refund, a lot of them get a BIG refund. Even when I was a kid, I was getting refunds around $2k because I was a dependent of my parents even though I made less than $20k a year.

        • Re:Oopsies! (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Hatta (162192) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:24PM (#31859172) Journal

          Wow, your marriage is pretty fucked up.

          • Re:Oopsies! (Score:5, Funny)

            by Red Flayer (890720) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:43PM (#31859466) Journal

            Wow, your marriage is pretty fucked up.

            There may have been some exaggeration of the relationship details for humor purposes... but the facts of the cash etc are the same.

            The truth is, I don't have a wife. The only person I sleep with in my bed is an inflatable doll I call Sally, and she doesn't complain much about money.

            I slept on the couch last night because I couldn't be bothered getting the Cheetos crumbs out of my sheets, and the night before last they scratched me up something fierce.

            • by Hatta (162192)

              I'm glad to hear that, that's a bad situation to actually be in. Perhaps there's an analog of Poe's law that would apply to relationship humor.

  • Oblig. (Score:5, Funny)

    by T Murphy (1054674) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:00PM (#31858792) Journal
    So... the servers are being taxed right now?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      Actually, I bet that they are being overtaxed right now...
    • Taxed is right. I know this isn't for personal tax returns but this year the IRS and DOL are going with only electronic filing for the form 5500. Most returns are filed on the last day of the extension period. According to an outside annalists the servers can handle the load, but there isn't enough copper and fiber going into the town that houses the data center handle the load. According to them it would take about 100 times the pipes to handle the expected load. Yeay EFAST2! Please file early.
  • by Shivetya (243324) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:02PM (#31858822) Homepage Journal

    Because we have a system built on the idea of coercing people to behave a certain way than a system which encourages productivity, savings, and the like. A system which allows petty government bureaucrats to punish or reward particular constituencies on near whim. Hence we are saddled with such a complex system that billions are spent by the government to administer it and billions more by individuals and companies to comply with it.

    and in the end, we still spend nearly 40% more than we take in.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by MozeeToby (1163751)

      It's not really that complex. Something like 80% of people can get the largest refund possible by filling out the a single form, with around 15 entries on it. The only way this isn't true is if you spend a lot of your paycheck on things like student loans, mortgage interest, charity, or medical bills. All of which encourage things that help to stabalize our society, so I don't really see much of a problem with them personally.

      • Add to your list business expenses, property taxes, sales taxes, municipal bonds, home improvements, child care, and political contributions.

        The tax code is 3,800 or so pages. The tax regulations written by the IRS is over 13,000 pages. That's nearly 17,000 pages. taxcode info

        Compliance with the code and regulations cost around $340,000,000,000 a year [hotair.com] (that's 340 billion, with a 'b', dollars). Hundreds of billions [gao.gov] doesn't get collected because compliance is too low (below 70%, apparently, according to the

      • I don't understand the complaints either. My taxes this year were more complicated than most of the people I know, and still I was able to do my return in less than 2 hours.

    • by T Murphy (1054674)
      If anyone has dealt with taxes in multiple countries, including the US, could you add some insight? It's hard to say whether the US is complicated without knowing what it's like elsewhere. Of course, simplifying tax returns may require a complete overhaul of how we collect tax in the first place.
      • by xaxa (988988)

        I don't have any experience with the US, but I did once fill in a UK tax return (I was 18, and paid too much tax. If I'd phoned HMRC and told them before I stopped working they'd have included the refund in my last paycheque automatically, but I didn't. It was my first proper summer job, I didn't really know what I was doing...).

        Here [wikipedia.org] is a list of the people that need to fill in tax returns in the UK. It's not that many people, and even if you do need to fill it in the form is reasonably straightforward. Her [hmrc.gov.uk]

  • Infrastructure (Score:3, Insightful)

    by girlintraining (1395911) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:03PM (#31858832)

    You know, the first thing I look at when designing IT infrastructure is where to simplify the existing process before converting it to a computer-assisted model. The IRS tax laws, exemptions, and everything else is unnecessarily complicated for what they are charged with. Don't fault the IRS for being slow and making mistakes when you've saddled them with such a dense and overly complex process that people can make a career out of gaming it.

    Processing several hundred million requests is something some web servers do on a daily basis without much problem.

    • Re:Infrastructure (Score:4, Interesting)

      by FredMenace (835698) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:37PM (#31859366)

      Totally agreed with your first paragraph - increased complexity dramatically increases computing (including development) costs, and the complexity of the system is Congress' fault, not the IRS's.

      While the second point is true in terms of overall visits, I'm not sure how many of those sites are processing that many form submissions (over SSL) with the amount of data submitted with a tax return (including schedules, supporting documents, etc.), that then needs to be validated (one assumes) and inserted into a database (though probably a lot of the business-logic/accounting type validation may occur during later batch processing).

      Plus other high-volume sites use their servers year round (more or less - though to the extent that it's seasonal, some, like Amazon, started renting out their excess capacity at other times), and such infrastructure is certainly not cheap. What happens to all this computing power the rest of the year?

  • Question (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Pojut (1027544) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:03PM (#31858842) Homepage

    Unless you owe a lot in taxes or back taxes and just need the extra time to come up with the money...why would you wait until the very last day to file? Come on...you are going to have to do it eventually, why not do it early and get it over with?

    We e-filed back in the third week of January...and both of us got our Federal & State returns literally three business days later direct deposited. If you don't owe any money and are due back a tax return, why wouldn't you file as soon as possible?

    • Re:Question (Score:4, Insightful)

      by digsbo (1292334) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:09PM (#31858928)
      Simple. Doing taxes is stressful. The tax code is confusing. The IRS is feared. Generally, people will avoid doing things which are unpleasant, and doing taxes is doubly so because of the fear involved. Perhaps you simply don't suffer from any anxiety about the process, or have better-than-average coping skills.
      • by Pojut (1027544)

        No, I just use Turbo Tax...takes 20 minutes to do mine and my fiancee's taxes. Granted, we don't have a massive portfolio and our money isn't divided into 20 different places, but still...it does most of the work for you, and costs about the same if not slightly less than going to a CPA.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by spyder913 (448266)

      Because procrastination is easy! And some people don't know if they're going to get a refund until they bother to fill out their taxes.

      I had to wait this year until my wife got her Schedule K-1 done, which took forever.

    • Filing your taxes early increases the odds of an audit.
    • by vxice (1690200)
      because there are other things you could be doing and you should be able to file until the last minute. anyways there is a chance you might die before the taxes are due and then you wasted time you could have spent having fun instead of doing a boring and as it turns out pointless task. there you go procrastination explained.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by GungaDan (195739)

      The pedant in me must point out that you file your RETURN and await your REFUND (if due one).

    • The IRS should have a internet site where I can log on to and see all of my income for any particular year. They should have their own tax software where all that income would be automatically entered into that program. After filing one year the next year should be accomplished with only a small amount of clicks. The program would ask if there are any changes from last year so if everything is the same about your deductions(dependents and standard deduction) than it should take one less than 10 minutes t
    • Hard work pays off in the long term; but for slacking off, you get immediate rewards.

  • It could be easier (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Mr_Blank (172031) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:09PM (#31858924) Journal

    ... if it were simpler. Why is the Federal Tax Code 3.7 million words? If the tax code were simpler, then those servers would have a much easier time of it.

          Scanning today's news turns up a lot of good examples for how the code could be simplified.

    The five dumbest parts of the U.S. tax code [msn.com]

    1) Ethanol credits increase the price of food, and give paper manufacturers more money in credits than they make from selling paper.
    2) Exemption for inherited stock-gains.
    3) Mortgage-interest deduction encourages people to buy as much house as they can afford, and encourages owning over renting to the detriment of other investments.
    4) Exemption on employer-provided health insurance encourages employers to give more health insurance instead of wage increases, and discourages health insurers from competing on price.
    5) Municipal-bond-interest exclusion gives more benefit to rich bond owners than it does to the municipalities that issue the bonds.

    Congressman Wyden leads effort to simplify tax code [statesmanjournal.com]

    Taxes: There is a Better Way [fosters.com] by U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by russotto (537200)

      3) Mortgage-interest deduction encourages people to buy as much house as they can afford, and encourages owning over renting to the detriment of other investments.

      That one's the third rail of the tax code. Try to touch that and your political career risks getting zapped into oblivion. Note that Wyden isn't touching it. In principal I dislike it, in practice I've already bought the house and I'd be pretty ticked if it went away. Since its existence contributes to the cost of housing, eliminating it would

    • by rev_sanchez (691443) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @01:15PM (#31859906)
      We've reformed the tax code before to simplify it and it bloats back up. The reason it bloats back up has to do with getting those last few votes on a close bill. One of the things the voting public tends to measure the success of representatives and senators by is not only how much federal money they can bring home but by how much money they can keep from going to the feds by adding a few more special provisions to the tax code. You can't just reform the tax code without reforming how changes are made to the tax code later or we'll be right back where we started.

      As for the IT angle, the managers at the IRS are scared of automating a decade’s long process because computers can greatly improve the efficiency of many things like screwing up a couple million tax returns on a bad afternoon. It doesn't help much that the tax code has significant changes every year and the IRS is almost universally demonized so getting resources and good support is probably difficult.
  • by nweaver (113078) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:09PM (#31858934) Homepage

    The IRS's web presence (rather than their back-end data processing) is very good because they are heavily Akamaized: everything is hosted through Akamai's infrastructure, so its very quick to get to the IRS website.

    Additionally, their site design is actually remarkably good and easy to navigate, so its both technically quick and usably quick.

    But this is really orthoginal to the main issue in the article, which is the back-end, in-house infrastructure for processing all the returns.

  • by J'raxis (248192) on Thursday April 15, 2010 @12:47PM (#31859514) Homepage

    Maybe it's so fast because it only has 50-75% uptime. The IRS website is the only website I've ever seen that was "closed." See here [irs.gov].

    This Application Is Available During the Following Hours:

    Monday - Friday: 6:00 a.m. to 12:30 a.m. Eastern time
    Saturday: 6:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Eastern time
    Sunday: 7:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. Eastern time

  • Or, tell Intuit to fix it, as that's who actually made it. I submitted a tax return form on Monday, only to have it rejected with Error Code 0010, saying to correct the Following Form:

    The biggest pain was that there was nothing after "the Following Form:", so I had no clue where to look. Turns out that I had to fill every line that was N/A for me (which I left blank) with zeros.

    In addition, when tabbing through from one entry field to the next, the order jumps all the hell around the 1040 form and more th

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself. -- A.H. Weiler

Working...