Technology is a wonderful thing — when it works. But when taxpayers depend on technology to pay their taxes, and that technology goes down leaving no other readily available payment option, it's time to scramble.
That was the situation taxpayers and DOR faced earlier this week when DOR's WebFile for Business and WebFile for Income web-based tax reporting and payment systems crashed on Sunday, June 12. The cause — a maintenance patch that unexpectedly gave the WebFile systems the equivalent of a strong allergic reaction, shutting them down.
The systems were not brought back up until Tuesday evening as the deadline for filing a variety of tax types loomed little more than 24 hours later at midnight Wednesday, June 15th.
DOR IT staff working to restore the system also attempted to retrieve an estimated 400 returns and payments that came in before the system crashed, but did not exit in time to be processed. Taxpayers whose returns could not be processed are being notified by email or phone of the need to refile.
Tuesday, June 14th, was also the day DOR announced that due to the outage, any tax return and payment filed with the WebFile systems would be treated as timely filed if received by midnight Friday, June 17th. An announcement to that effect was placed on DOR's homepage shortly after 9 p.m. Tuesday night as WebFile service was restored.
The timing of this crash could hardly have been worse. June 15th is a filing and payment deadline for income tax and corporate tax estimated payments, which generate millions of revenue dollars. The crash also jeopardized timely payment of weekly and monthly withholding taxes. While not all taxpayers use the WebFile systems, thousands do, and many of them called DOR seeking information and assurance that they would not be hit with late file penalties if they missed the June 15th deadline.
DOR sincerely regrets the inconvenience and agita this outage caused taxpayers. To beef up the WebFile systems, DOR will take them down over the weekend, after the filing deadline has passed, to do additional maintenance.
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