On Tuesday, the last day Americans have to file their taxes for 2017 without paying a penalty, the Internal Revenue Services' Modernized eFile System suffered a partial failure, according to The Washington Post, making it impossible for some Americans to submit their tax forms electronically. This left many frustrated tax filers wondering: Can you still use TurboTax to file your taxes, despite the glitch on the IRS's side?
Update: The IRS website resumed functioning as normal on Tuesday evening. The agency announced that it would extend its tax deadline by one day because of the site crash, 'The Washington Post' reported.
Earlier: TurboTax, a popular tax filing service, offers users the option of filing their forms electronically. However, this simply funnels that users' completed tax forms into the IRS's existing eFile system, and and it's the eFile system that partially failed on Tuesday. As such, using TurboTax to file your taxes electronically isn't a workaround for the IRS's technical problems, as it relies on the IRS's infrastructure in order to submit tax forms to the agency.
A spokesperson for TurboTax said that users should continue filing their taxes as normal, and that the company will transmit the forms once the IRS system comes back online.
“Taxpayers should go ahead and continue to prepare and file their taxes as normal with TurboTax,” spokeswoman Ashley McMahon said. “TurboTax has uninterrupted service and is available and accepting e-filed returns. We will hold returns until the IRS is ready to begin accepting them again.”
A few things are worth noting, though. First, the IRS's ability to accept paper tax forms hasn't been affected, so anyone can still send their taxes in via snail mail. This means that you can still use TurboTax to complete your taxes — which is the main point of the software itself — then print out and mail the forms.
Additionally, IRS Acting Commissioner David Kautter briefed lawmakers on the matter Tuesday morning, and said that "taxpayers should continue to file as they normally would" despite the problems. Lastly, and perhaps more importantly, he said that if the agency can't fix the by the end of the day, "taxpayers would not be penalized because of a technical problem the IRS is having."
Lastly, some users may still be able to file their taxes electronically. In his briefing to lawmakers, Kautner said that he wasn't user how many Americans were affected by the technical problem, but that "it could be millions, potentially." This isn't terribly encouraging, but it at least leaves open the possibility that the eFile system may still be working for some users.
According to Politico, the system failed between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m. ET Tuesday at an IRS facility in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Staffers are attempting to reboot the system, but if that doesn't work, it may take up to a day and a half for the agency's backup system to be up and running.
Users who went to the IRS website Tuesday were greeted with error messages on two key pages: The "Direct Pay" page, which allows filers to transfer money from their bank account to pay their taxes, and the "Payment Plan" page, where filers can pay their taxes in installments. The Direct Pay page initially displayed an error message stating that there was a "planned outage" from Tuesday to "December 31, 9999." That has since been corrected, and both the Direct Pay and the Payment Plan pages now simply read: "This service is currently unavailable. We apologize for any inconvenience."
Lawmakers reacted with dismay to the technical outage.
“Tax Day is already a stressful time for millions of Americans, even when everything goes right," said Democratic Rep. Richard Neal, the ranking member of the House Ways & Means Committee, said in a statement. "Given this news, I hope that the IRS will make accommodations so that every taxpayer attempting to file today has a fair shot to do so without penalty." Republican Rep. Greg Gianforte said that although it's "game day for the IRS," the agency "can’t get out of the locker room."