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Tax filing halted by IRS computer outage. Will refunds be delayed?

The IRS stopped accepting electronically filed tax returns Wednesday because of problems with some of its computer systems. The outage could affect refunds, the agency said. 

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    The exterior of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) building in Washington. A 'hardware failure' Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2016 forced the shutdown of several IRS tax processing systems, including the e-file system.
    Susan Walsh/AP/File
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 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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Taxpayers can continue to send electronic returns to companies that serve as middlemen between taxpayers and the IRS. But those companies have to hold on to the tax returns until the IRS systems are up and running again, the IRS said.

While the IRS said it is still assessing the scope of the outage, it expects 90 percent of taxpayers will receive refunds within three weeks.

The full statement from the IRS on the outage is below: 

The IRS experienced a hardware failure this afternoon affecting a number of tax processing systems, which are currently unavailable. Several of our systems are not currently operating, including our modernized e-file system and a number of other related systems. The IRS is currently in the process of making repairs and working to restore normal operations as soon as possible. We anticipate some of the systems will remain unavailable until tomorrow.

The IRS remains in close contact with e-file software transmitters and the tax community during this period.

A number of taxpayer and tax practitioner tools are unavailable. IRS.gov remains available, although a number of the services on the site are not, including Where’s My Refund.

Taxpayers can continue to prepare and file their tax returns as they normally would. Taxpayers can continue to send their tax returns to their e-file provider; these companies will hold the tax returns until the IRS resumes accepting electronic tax returns. Taxpayers who have already filed their tax returns do not need to take any additional action.

The IRS is still assessing the scope of the outage. At this time, the IRS does not anticipate major refund disruptions; we continue to expect that 9 out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days.

People who have already filed returns don't need to do anything more, the IRS said.

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