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Author Topic:   IRS Computers
Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 3437
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 4.3


Message 1 of 16 (893741)
04-19-2022 12:54 PM


Yesterday on the morning news there were stories about U.S. taxpayers having to file their tax returns on that day, April 18. They talked about a huge backlog of returns so refunds for people filing paper returns might take 6 months.

Then they said that a big part of the problem was the IRS (Internal Revenue Service) computers were from the 1960s. Can that possibly be true?

I worked in the 60s using mainframes and my $4000 desktop computer that I assembled myself a couple years ago is hundreds (maybe thousands) of times more powerful and efficient than any of the mainframes that I worked on.

We used paper tape fed through a teletype machine to load the operating system and I remember how excited we were when we added a 5 megabyte hard drive that was the size of a washing machine.


Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy

The reason that we have the scientific method is because common sense isn't reliable. -- Taq


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by ringo, posted 04-19-2022 1:00 PM Tanypteryx has not replied
 Message 3 by jar, posted 04-19-2022 1:04 PM Tanypteryx has not replied
 Message 4 by dwise1, posted 04-19-2022 1:47 PM Tanypteryx has replied
 Message 10 by dwise1, posted 04-19-2022 4:39 PM Tanypteryx has replied

  
ringo
Member
Posts: 19767
From: frozen wasteland
Joined: 03-23-2005
Member Rating: 2.9


Message 2 of 16 (893742)
04-19-2022 1:00 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tanypteryx
04-19-2022 12:54 PM


I have it on good authority that the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has a room full of chimps feverishly typing out letters to taxpayers.

"I call that bold talk for a one-eyed fat man!"
-- Lucky Ned Pepper

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 12:54 PM Tanypteryx has not replied

  
jar
Member
Posts: 33957
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.0


Message 3 of 16 (893743)
04-19-2022 1:04 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tanypteryx
04-19-2022 12:54 PM


I can believe it.

My Website: My Website

This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 12:54 PM Tanypteryx has not replied

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 5199
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 4 of 16 (893747)
04-19-2022 1:47 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tanypteryx
04-19-2022 12:54 PM


My first reaction would be that COBOL would run better on COBOL-grade systems.

Snarkiness aside, there is some truth to that remark. Our school computer in the late 70's was an IBM S/370 mainframe. It used data types that I have not seen anywhere else, like packed decimal which was handled by the CPU's instruction set. If the IRS' COBOL programs used something like packed decimal and newer computers don't support packed decimal, then the tried-and-true legacy software would not work. Therefore, they needed to keep the old computers running.

At work (embedded engineering), we had many utilities and other software tools that no longer work because 64-bit Windows no longer supports 16-bit applications. Our solution was to keep Windows XP, but then we migrated to setting up virtual computer emulators to run on our new computers.

Similarly, I wrote my program for calculating the probabilities of my MONKEY in Turbo Pascal whose extended REAL data type I used. Now I cannot find support for that extended REAL data type, so I cannot run that program with anywhere close to the same precision. I would need to set up a legacy system with legacy software.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 12:54 PM Tanypteryx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 6 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 3:12 PM dwise1 has not replied

  
jar
Member
Posts: 33957
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.0


Message 5 of 16 (893753)
04-19-2022 2:38 PM


Remember that the IRS computers are not just constantly addressing imaginary numbers but often duplicate alternative imaginary number sets.

My Website: My Website

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 3:36 PM jar has not replied

  
Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 3437
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 4.3


Message 6 of 16 (893756)
04-19-2022 3:12 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by dwise1
04-19-2022 1:47 PM


The first computer I worked on was a Varian around 1974-75. No idea of a model number. Most of the programing was with assembler language. It was in a spectrographic analysis lab at a rare metal refinery. Mostly worked on building an interface to hook a direct reading spectrograph up to the computer. Direct reading in that, instead of recording the spectrums on glass film plates of light generated by burning a sample in an electric spark or arc, the light was collected by a bank of photomultiplier tubes positioned precisely at the wavelength positions of the elements we were interested in. We analyzed for 32 elements and the out put was arrays of numbers, printed by a teletype, that then had to be hand entered into programable desk calculators to actually calculate concentrations in parts per million and then hand written on analysis report sheets.

It was a fun project. We even designed and etched our own circuit boards and then soldered the components on, for each output channel of the interface. They continued to use that system for 10-15 years, but eventually ICP (inductively couple plasma) spectrometers took over that segment of analytical chemistry. The light source was a plasma and the sample was a liquid solution that was injected into the plasma rather than a solid sample burned in an electric arc or spark.

By the time ICP instruments came along, dedicated PC computers were included in the package. They came with the instrument manufacturer's proprietary software and interface.


Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy

The reason that we have the scientific method is because common sense isn't reliable. -- Taq


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by dwise1, posted 04-19-2022 1:47 PM dwise1 has not replied

  
Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 3437
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 4.3


Message 7 of 16 (893760)
04-19-2022 3:36 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by jar
04-19-2022 2:38 PM


Sorry, I don't know what that means.

Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy

The reason that we have the scientific method is because common sense isn't reliable. -- Taq


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by jar, posted 04-19-2022 2:38 PM jar has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by AZPaul3, posted 04-19-2022 3:38 PM Tanypteryx has replied

  
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 6837
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.5


Message 8 of 16 (893762)
04-19-2022 3:38 PM
Reply to: Message 7 by Tanypteryx
04-19-2022 3:36 PM


It means the numbers the IRS receives are ... imaginary.

Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 3:36 PM Tanypteryx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 9 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 4:25 PM AZPaul3 has replied

  
Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 3437
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 4.3


Message 9 of 16 (893765)
04-19-2022 4:25 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by AZPaul3
04-19-2022 3:38 PM


Oh OK, but they still represent something to the people sending them and the people reading them, right?

Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy

The reason that we have the scientific method is because common sense isn't reliable. -- Taq


This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by AZPaul3, posted 04-19-2022 3:38 PM AZPaul3 has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by AZPaul3, posted 04-19-2022 5:26 PM Tanypteryx has replied

  
dwise1
Member
Posts: 5199
Joined: 05-02-2006
Member Rating: 3.0


Message 10 of 16 (893767)
04-19-2022 4:39 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Tanypteryx
04-19-2022 12:54 PM


The computers is only part of the story. The other part is reduced staffing.

One reason for reduced IRS staffing is the pandemic and the need to provide IRS agents proper social distancing. In order to provide that, the IRS simply had fewer agents working in the same office space. And trying to do the same amount of work as a larger staff used to. Which they couldn't.

Last year I had to get a tax number for our parents' trust. What should have taken only a couple of weeks ended up taking nearly two months. When I was finally able to get through to a person (that journey alone can yield hours of woeful tales), she told me that the reason it was taking so long was understaffing and that the understaffing was due to COVID social distancing requirements.

The other reason is that the Trump Administration cut the IRS' budget. Part of the reason for that was to hamstring their ability to do their work, which included investigating tax fraud (AKA auditing) and collecting on overdue taxes, etc. That was also part of Trump's hollowing out of government agencies in order to destroy them (and their ability to enforce regulations), which makes the next part all the more interesting. At the same time that Trump wasn't making any permanent appointments but rather all agencies, including DoD, were being headed by acting directors, Trump made very sure to appoint his flunkies to the top three positions at the IRS; not acting heads, but rather actual appointments. His goal in that was to have them block any attempts to have his tax returns released.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 12:54 PM Tanypteryx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 14 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-20-2022 1:58 PM dwise1 has not replied

  
AZPaul3
Member
Posts: 6837
From: Phoenix
Joined: 11-06-2006
Member Rating: 3.5


(1)
Message 11 of 16 (893770)
04-19-2022 5:26 PM
Reply to: Message 9 by Tanypteryx
04-19-2022 4:25 PM


I don't know about you but my tax return is as imaginary as I can make it without, hopefully, getting caught.

Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

This message is a reply to:
 Message 9 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 4:25 PM Tanypteryx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 12 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 6:39 PM AZPaul3 has not replied

  
Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 3437
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 4.3


Message 12 of 16 (893775)
04-19-2022 6:39 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by AZPaul3
04-19-2022 5:26 PM


My wife does our taxes quarterly and it's mostly so straight forward that there's no wiggle room. She has a stock trading account that she has to pay capitol gains on and we get quarterly payments from our deferred comp accounts. She has some really nice spreadsheets and tax programs that she keeps track of everything with and she hates having unpaid taxes. And I hate doing that crap, so yay!

Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy

The reason that we have the scientific method is because common sense isn't reliable. -- Taq


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by AZPaul3, posted 04-19-2022 5:26 PM AZPaul3 has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 13 by Theodoric, posted 04-19-2022 8:46 PM Tanypteryx has not replied

  
Theodoric
Member
Posts: 7426
From: Northwest, WI, USA
Joined: 08-15-2005
Member Rating: 2.9


(1)
Message 13 of 16 (893780)
04-19-2022 8:46 PM
Reply to: Message 12 by Tanypteryx
04-19-2022 6:39 PM


I have a friend with his own tax business. Once a year he takes all our crap and we then get a bill or refund.

What can be asserted without evidence can also be dismissed without evidence. -Christopher Hitchens

Facts don't lie or have an agenda. Facts are just facts

"God did it" is not an argument. It is an excuse for intellectual laziness.

If your viewpoint has merits and facts to back it up why would you have to lie?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 12 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-19-2022 6:39 PM Tanypteryx has not replied

  
Tanypteryx
Member
Posts: 3437
From: Oregon, USA
Joined: 08-27-2006
Member Rating: 4.3


(2)
Message 14 of 16 (893799)
04-20-2022 1:58 PM
Reply to: Message 10 by dwise1
04-19-2022 4:39 PM


The computers is only part of the story. The other part is reduced staffing.

Yeah, this is the old triple, triple whammy,

cut budgets and staffing,

don't hire new young employees to learn to do the jobs,

do whatever possible to get rid of the older workers who know the jobs so they are not there to train new workers,

make big loud public spectacles of attacking the agency for not fulfilling their role,

appoint your antigovernment anarchist flunkies in charge and then start privatizing it,

at least one oligarch should be able to milk this for decades.

It isn't just the IRS, it's also the department of the Interior and the Bureau of Land Management, the Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Forest Service and every other science or fact based agency. The scientists and project leaders were forced out by headquarters moves and creating toxic work environments and sidelining them and forbidding attendance at scientific conferences, and forbidding speaking out or be smeared publicly.

Remember Trump's imaginary steel mills that were coming on line every day? Of course we know they are imaginary, but notice that The Turd never said who was going to train all those workers how to run a steel mill, or even build the furnaces and forges.

The expertise we have lost is staggering and will prove fatal for the United States of America.


Stop Tzar Vladimir the Condemned!

What if Eleanor Roosevelt had wings? -- Monty Python

One important characteristic of a theory is that is has survived repeated attempts to falsify it. Contrary to your understanding, all available evidence confirms it. --Subbie

If evolution is shown to be false, it will be at the hands of things that are true, not made up. --percy

The reason that we have the scientific method is because common sense isn't reliable. -- Taq


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by dwise1, posted 04-19-2022 4:39 PM dwise1 has not replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by jar, posted 04-20-2022 4:29 PM Tanypteryx has replied

  
jar
Member
Posts: 33957
From: Texas!!
Joined: 04-20-2004
Member Rating: 2.0


Message 15 of 16 (893820)
04-20-2022 4:29 PM
Reply to: Message 14 by Tanypteryx
04-20-2022 1:58 PM


Tanypteryx writes:

The expertise we have lost is staggering and will prove fatal for the United States of America.

Silly Rabbi, what a profit of doom you sound like.

Isn't the United States the arsenal of Democracy and capable of building more than 2000 major cargo ships in just five years?

All it takes is an Executive Order and the President can just tell businesses to do it.


My Website: My Website

This message is a reply to:
 Message 14 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-20-2022 1:58 PM Tanypteryx has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 16 by Tanypteryx, posted 04-20-2022 4:33 PM jar has not replied

  
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