The U.S. Internal Revenue Service’s online filing system was malfunctioning on Tuesday -- the day tax returns are due for most taxpayers.

“Currently, certain IRS systems are experiencing technical difficulties,” the IRS said in a statement. “Taxpayers should continue filing their tax returns as they normally would.”

Every year the IRS processes more than 120 million tax returns that arrive by mid-April and spits back some $300 billion in refunds. Tax Day is on April 17 this year, since April 15 was a Sunday and April 16 was a holiday in Washington.

The IRS is currently unable to accept information transmitted from software providers, David Kautter, acting commissioner of the IRS, said after testifying at a congressional hearing on Tuesday. He said taxpayers won’t be penalized because of the issue.

“On my way over here this morning, I was told a number of systems are down at the moment,” Kautter said during the hearing. The problem was discovered in the early morning hours between 1 a.m. and 3 a.m., according to Kautter.

The IRS is unsure whether a hardware or software issue is to blame, or if it was a cybersecurity issue -- but indications are that the problem is internal, Kautter said.

Alert Message

An alert message pops up when users select "Bank Account (Direct Pay)" on the agency’s website; it says the service is currently unavailable. The same message appears when choosing to apply for a payment plan or view account information.

Kautter added that taxpayers won’t be punished for the IRS’s issues. “If we can’t solve it today, we’ll figure out a solution,” Kautter said. “Taxpayers would not be penalized because of a technical problem the IRS is having.”

Tom Nemet, an accountant in Hamden, Connecticut,...

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