Computers: Glitches and Crashes at the IRS

New machines and new software create a tax-time headache

April 15 was the deadline for Americans to file their 1984 tax returns, but for the Internal Revenue Service that date marked only the halfway point in the gargantuan task of sorting and examining 100 million tax reports. Ordinarily the agency, long hailed by intimidated taxpayers as a model of efficiency, is unfazed by the awesome bureaucratic burden. This year, however, an astonishing array of glitches in the IRS's new $131 million Sperry-Univac computers has created an unprecedented backlog of unprocessed tax forms.

By April 12 clerks had gone over only 64% of the 67.6 million returns received, compared with 73%...

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