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Hey, shhhh. Will you please shut the f-ck up about the IRS!

What the hell are you thinking? Do you want the IRS to have the latest software and AI to track your sorry ass down? Honestly, you looking for an excuse to do a dime in the joint?

Internal Revenue Incompetence

Some of the tax agency’s IT is so old it can’t find workers who know how to use it.

By The Editorial Board, WSJ

Feb. 10, 2023 6:28 pm ET

Hard to believe the Internal Revenue Service’s problems could be worse than we knew, but a Government Accountability Office report released this week on its aging IT systems shows they are. Don’t expect the $80 billion that the IRS is getting from the Inflation Reduction Act to fix them.

The IRS relies on numerous IT systems to collect taxes and distribute refunds, but many are as old as Baby Boomers. GAO reports that about 33% of applications, 23% of software and 8% of hardware are “legacy” systems, defined as 25 years or older or written in an obsolete programming language. Thirteen applications are between 55 and 64 years old.

Some of these systems are so old that the IRS is struggling to find workers with specialized skills to operate them. “Agencies have had difficulty finding employees with such knowledge and may have to pay a premium to hire specialized staff or contractors,” GAO says. Help wanted: Workers with computer skills that are out-of-date in a modern economy.

In a terrifying note, GAO adds that “legacy systems may operate with known security vulnerabilities that are either technically difficult or prohibitively expensive to address. In some cases, vendors no longer provide support for hardware or software, creating security vulnerabilities and additional costs.” In other words, your personal information is waiting to be hacked. Is that what happened to the individual returns that made their way to the progressive website ProPublica?

Because the cost of operating and maintaining legacy systems increases over time, extra funding from Congress won’t go very far. Last year’s Inflation Reduction Act gave the agency about $80 billion over the next decade, mostly for tax enforcement. But $4.8 billion was allocated for business systems modernization. The agency spent $3.6 billion in 2022 fiscal year on IT.

GAO also reports that the IRS recently suspended work on six modernization initiatives, including two that are essential to replacing its 60-year old Individual Master File (IMF), which is “the authoritative data source for individual tax account data.” The IRS has been working on replacing this file for more than a decade, and it has no projected end-date.

The IRS makes Boston’s infamous Big Dig tunnel project look good by comparison. Any company that operated the way the IRS does would have gone out of business long ago. But government agencies are rarely held accountable. Politicians reward incompetence with more money.

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