The IRS is in the midst of tax season — a bad time for the agency to have computer troubles.

But that's what happened on Wednesday, when a supposed "hardware failure" disrupted access to several agency apps hosted on The problems affected two of the agency's most popular online apps: the e-file system that accepts tax returns submitted through authorized online preparers and the Where's My Refund app, which is exactly what it says on the tin.

The IRS said Wednesday that the IT team is working on repairing the hardware malfunction, though many of the affected systems likely won't be available until Friday at the earliest. However, the agency is still "assessing the scope of the outage," according to a statement, meaning issues could persist longer.

The agency said it is working with the e-file companies "and the tax community during this period" so that citizens can continue to file their taxes as usual.

"Taxpayers can continue to send their tax returns to their e-file provider; these companies will hold the tax returns until the IRS resumes accepting electronic tax returns," the agency said. "Taxpayers who have already filed their tax returns do not need to take any additional action."

Despite these issues, the IRS expects to stay on track processing returns and issuing refunds.

"At this time, the IRS does not anticipate major refund disruptions," the agency said. "We continue to expect that nine out of 10 taxpayers will receive their refunds within 21 days."

The outages are just another in a difficult 12 months for IRS's IT systems.

The IRS reported a significant network intrusion in May 2015. The agency originally said the breach of the Get Transcript system compromised tax records for some 114,000 people. That number was actually closer to 550,000, the agency announced in August.

The agency offered credit monitoring and identity protection services to those affected in the breach.

Aaron Boyd is an awarding-winning journalist currently serving as editor of Federal Times — a Washington, D.C. institution covering federal workforce and contracting for more than 50 years — and Fifth Domain — a news and information hub focused on cybersecurity and cyberwar from a civilian, military and international perspective.

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