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The Incompetence is Painful — Why Now?
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The Incompetence is Painful

The Associated Press reports that the IRS says up to 350,000 tax rebate checks wrong

WASHINGTON – Up to 350,000 households aren’t getting the $300 per child owed them as part of their economic stimulus rebate payments, the Internal Revenue Service said Thursday.

The tax agency says taxpayer human error and computer glitches were responsible for the problem affecting a tiny percentage of the 130 million taxpayers expected to benefit from the refunds the government began sending out last month.

He said the problem on the child payments was traced to taxpayers failing to check a box on their paper tax returns and to two computer software systems, less than 1 percent of those in use, that weren’t capturing the information needed to trigger the payment.

So, they are processing tax returns with software that doesn’t check to see if the number of exemptions claimed and the deduction taken for those exemptions match. It would be interesting to know which box wasn’t “checked”, because the number of children is just that, a number, not a box, and it is normal for the IRS to compare the exemptions claimed on the tax form with the number claimed for withholding purposes.

It is becoming a truism that the government plus a computer equals FUBAR.


1 Michael { 05.16.08 at 1:00 pm }

Government computers should be open source and auditable.

2 Bryan { 05.16.08 at 5:33 pm }

Which won’t happen as long as they use outside contractors instead of their own IT department. The programs probably do exactly what the contract specified, which has not been what was needed since governments at all levels started laying off their in-house IT staff and depending on contractors.

A bad contract specification always produces a bad computer system.

3 distributorcap { 05.16.08 at 5:34 pm }

but they were able to spend $42 million for letters letting people know they MIGHT be getting a refund….

4 Bryan { 05.16.08 at 7:16 pm }

Psyops – everything with these people is agitprop – tell people they are going to get money so they’ll keep spending in anticipation of something that may never occur. Not much different than the lottery – you too can be a millionaire.