I talked about the lack of electronic payment options from USCIS. It turns out the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) does have one. Considering that IRS is all about collecting money, it makes sense. So I decided to pay my 2009 estimated tax through The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). According to its website, EFTPS is “one of the most successful Federal government programs undertaken in recent years” and it is “easy to use, fast and accurate.”
I actually went through the online enrollment process last year. It took about two weeks, including receiving a PIN in snail mail. A bit longer than the few minutes most banks need to setup an account, but not bad compared to those year-long backlogs we are used to.
So I went through the payment process, selecting Form 1040ES, putting down the amount (in four equal installments) and scheduling four dates in April, June, September and January. All went smoothly until I clicked “make payment.” A warning popped up saying that I’m making four duplicate payments!
I knew I was making four payment in equal amount, but on different days!
It offered three options: Edit, Abandon and Override. Override means you can ignore the warning and continue with the payment, in case you are wondering.
Thinking that I might have made a mistake somewhere, I chose Abandon and started it over. Since I was determined to avoid late penalties I once again scheduled four payments for the whole year, and in equal installments as IRS prefers.
Nope! Same duplicate payment warnings. I chose “override” this time. Although the confirmation page appeared to be correct in terms of actual payment dates (settlement date as IRS calls it), I was still a bit concerned that IRS might debited my account four times on the same day.
I did a little googling afterwards and guess what, the same issue has existed since at least 2006! And IRS knew about it even then. I can’t be the only one having questions about the duplicate payment warnings, can I?
Then you have to wonder, how hard is it to add an “if” statement in the code that works like this: if there are four equal payments, but on four different days, it might be intentional? A good hint would be the use of form 1040ES, duh!
At the very least, how about adding a short comment that explains what the duplicate warning messages are, especially if you are scheduling estimated tax payment in advance. This way people won’t be as confused, and I won’t be writing up this post when I’m supposed to be doing my taxes.
If a multi-billion dollar government agency can’t fix this bug in three years, it means:
- They don’t care;
- They think users will eventually figure out what to do; or
- They can’t find qualified and willing programmers to do the job.