IRS Commissioner: We're using technology from the '60s

We recently discussed how the IRS is dealing with strict budget cuts. Our blog post on the subject mentioned that the agency is reducing its workforce and expects to perform thousands fewer audits this year than in 2014.

Besides having to tighten its belt, the IRS is also dealing with an old-fashioned computer system that goes back to the 1960s, according to Commissioner John Koskinen.

Koskinen made his comments while testifying before a Senate panel recently. When asked why victims of identity theft were experiencing delays receiving new tax identification numbers, he replied, "We're running applications we were running when John F. Kennedy was president."

This came as a surprise to one senator, who noted that the IRS spends $2 billion a year on upgrading its information technology systems. Koskinen compared this effort to putting luxury options like a GPS system and a stereo into a Model T. Some IRS computer systems still operate on programming language developed in the 1980s.

Koskinen said that the IRS has more than 50 IT upgrades to get to. He noted that banks allow customers to conduct a great deal of their business on their websites, and believed taxpayers would be able to do the same on the IRS website someday.

Such service should be possible in the Internet age. "We're not talking about going to the moon," the commissioner said.

A modernized IRS would likely be more convenient for taxpayers. It may also be more accurate when it comes to selecting tax returns for auditing.

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