Improved e-filing at IRS to help 2014 income tax season

WASHINGTON – Enhancements to electronic filing that the Internal Revenue Service has implemented over the past year should improve the tax filing process in early 2014, when Americans file their 2013 income tax returns, according to a new report by the watchdog agency that oversees the IRS.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) announced on Thursday that the agency's preparations and improvements to the Modernized e-File (MeF) system for the 2013 Filing Season should help ensure the system’s reliability and reduce delays in pocessing taxpayers’ tax returns and refunds. The MeF system enables real-time processing of tax returns while improving error detection, standardizing business rules, and expediting acknowledgements to taxpayers.

During the 2012 Filing Season, the IRS had to suspend MeF system processing on at least two occasions to correct system performance issues. The IRS subsequently reviewed the MeF system performance issues and identified major categories of work to address performance and reliability issues.

TIGTA reviewed whether infrastructure changes to the MeF system were on track to deliver improvements in performance and reliability for the 2013 Filing Season.

The IRS took the necessary steps to improve MeF system performance, TIGTA found. These included testing the system’s ability to process high volumes of returns for a sustained period of time. The tests concluded that the MeF system would meet peak performance requirements.

Additionally, the IRS increased the bandwidth of the portal that serves as the entry point for web-based access to IRS applications and data. Because other IRS applications use the same portal as the MeF system, this increased bandwidth helps guard against a decrease in overall system performance.

“The Modified e-File System is a critical component to meet the needs of taxpayers, reduce taxpayer burden, and broaden the use of electronic interactions,” said J. Russell George, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration.  “Collectively, the various categories of work should provide the enhancements intended to correct problems associated with the 2012 Filing Season and give the IRS assurance of the MeF system’s readiness for the 2013 Filing Season.