The IRS's Latest Failure: $10 Million Spent on Abandoned Project

The Good Idea: The IRS had a good idea- provide online access to tax records. This was going to be called "My IRS Account" and it was going to have tools to help citizens with tax preparation. But yesterday, the inspector general for tax administration reported that the project that cost $10 million to development was abandoned close to completion, due to poor planning.

The Bad News: Most taxpayers get information by calling the IRS toll free numbers, but as many of you know, this causes a long wait time. This new system was going to make it easier on both the taxpayer and the IRS.

"With incomplete project termination procedures, shutting down a project could result in loss of data during migration or archival of information in the event the system, or portions of the system, is reactivated."

The Good News: There's light at the end of the tunnel. The IRS intends to reuse most of the hardware developed so far. This means it could be available anywhere between 2009-2013. Here's the expected features for "My IRS Account" as published by the IRS in 2008:

• My IRS Account will provide taxpayers online access to their federal tax return and account information.

• My IRS Account will be available around the clock, every day.

• My IRS Account will provide a secure online environment to ensure privacy.

• My IRS Account will allow users to view and download their account by tax years.

• My IRS Account users will have the ability to view and print tax return and account information for the current and previous three years.

"My IRS Account" will NOT be used to:

• Be used to identify, locate or monitor individuals or groups.

• Use persistent cookies or other tracking devices to identify web visitors.

In the meantime... the IRS is still as difficult as ever. It's excellent that the IRS is taking these first big steps towards being entirely user friendly and interactive. Access to your tax information will make it so much easier to resolve, and prevent tax issues. But until then, taxpayers are stuck with long waits and poor service to resolve their issues or retrieve information.