In another case of I-told-you-so journalism, recent reports detail the government’s inability to process the volume of unemployment claims and loan applications they’re receiving because computing systems are so outdated.
I first brought this up as an issue after Chester City workers were laid off. Knowing they’d be applying for unemployment, I knew it would be tough with so many others facing the same fate. The only good news is if they all applied right away, they had the best chance of having good results because that was the week of ‘only’ 3.3 million unemployment filers. The three weeks that followed, numbers have approached 10 million new filers each week and the government is finally admitting they can’t process that many applications.
I saw a lady on the news yesterday saying she attempted to call 2000 times and still hasn’t got through to file her unemployment claim.
The next time I brought up the problem was when county assistance office workers complained they had to work in an office with a co-worker found to have COVID-19. The co-worker wasn’t on site but the office didn’t get deep cleaned for 3-days while the workers had to come in and process applications even though the public was prohibited from entering the building. I knew right away those employees should be working from home but couldn’t because of old technology.
The Washington Post writes…
The SBA ran out of money to make small business loans this week, almost no unemployment aid has reached eligible self-employed and gig workers, and a significant number of Americans who were due to receive relief payments this week went on the IRS.gov website only to see this message: “payment status not available.”
The IRS issue is very complex. The people who most likely got their $1200 filed taxes in 2019 and their return was electronically deposited to their bank account. Yet, many people – mostly low income folks – who used reputable tax services, who also filed in 2019 and received a tax refund electronically, didn’t get their $1200 this week because their 2019’s electronic payment went to a debit card the tax service provided. The debit card works perfectly to receive a refund but most now have a $0 balance and were thrown away even if the $1200 was sent to it, or the debit card isn’t recognized by the IRS. Then there are those who filed last year who had to pay taxes. Obviously, they have no direct deposit information on file…or they closed out their account and opened a new one somewhere else.
With so many people inquiring about their status, the IRS and county assistance systems are overloaded and aren’t providing any information to anyone.
I believe, in some cases the old technology, especially on the software side, is fixable. The problem is so few people code in those old programming languages. COBOL, BASIC, FORTRAN, PASCAL and APL are foreign languages (pun intended) to anyone under 45-years old.
If problems continue, it could leave people even less able to pay bills or buy groceries and further exacerbate the economic decline.
I’m curious to see how government is going to get out of this mess…
The IRS said it is aware of the problems, but is limited in what it can do to help quickly. Taxpayers trying to sort out why they got an inaccurate check — or nothing at all when they qualified for a payment — are unable to communicate with the IRS. With the tax filing deadline delayed to July 15, the agency closed the last of its service centers — in Ogden, Utah — early last week, and the IRS had not been able to expand a pilot telework program for phone agents because of the pandemic