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Irs Unlikely To Encounter Widespread Y2k Problems Source: The Press Democrat Santa Rosa, CA
A few taxpayers might get notices claiming, for example, that they owe a century's worth of interest. But it doesn't appear the IRS will encounter widespread Y2K computer problems.
If there are some isolated glitches like the imagined interest notice dating from 1900, Internal Revenue Service Commissioner Charles Rossotti says there are plans in place to respond.
"There are bound to be some problems. I don't think they are going to be the kinds of problems where computers grind to a halt," he said.
The Y2K glitch, the result of computer programming that expressed years with two digits, means that uncorrected computers could interpret "2000" as "1900" and crash or garble data.
With 60 mainframe computers, 150,000 personal computers, 48 million lines of computer code and 94,000 software programs, the IRS has faced one of the largest Y2K challenges in the federal government.
The agency also had to fix computers dealing with such things as office equipment at its 850 locations and work with businesses with whom it exchanges data on their computer systems.
In some cases, data entry systems used to process paper returns that date from the 1970s had to be junked because there were no replacement parts or technicians who knew how to work on them.
"You couldn't even move them. If you moved them, they fell apart," Rossotti said.
Total cost of Y2K compliance to the IRS is roughly $1.3 billion.
The systems have undergone several end-to-end tests, including one completed in fall of 1999, and most have already been through last year's filing season with the Y2K fix in place.
If problems do crop up, the IRS plans to announce them through the news media and on its Internet site -- irs.gov -- in the "What's Hot" section. Rossotti said the service will work with taxpayers to solve any problems related to Y2K.
-- Martin Thompson (firstname.lastname@example.org), February 09, 2000