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Technology is great, until it isn't.

That's how a lot of people are feeling after recently trying to use the Internal Revenue Service's Income Verification Express Service, or IVES.

Financial community members use the program to expedite loan processing. This week, though, that wasn't happening.

Expedited income confirmation: The IRS created the service so that registered users can more quickly confirm borrowers' incomes.

Once taxpayers give a lender the OK to use IVES to check their earnings, the lender logs on to the IRS website to request the loan applicants' transcripts. That tax return, W-2 and 1099 transcript information generally is available to the lender via a secure mailbox within two to three business days.

The system has been getting some added use of late from mortgage lenders as people look to take advantage of historically low interest rates to buy or refinance homes.

But that process was halted by a technical glitch. IVES users this week reported that they were getting incomplete or corrupted transcripts in the Secure Object Repository (SOR) mailbox.

System back, but some must re-request: To minimize the number of corrupted transcripts being sent, the IRS temporarily suspended IVES on Oct. 28 so it could work on the issue.

The good news is that the IRS corrected the problem. The bad news is that lenders who got corrupted transcripts or weren't able to get them at all are still out of luck.

Those lenders need to resend their transcript requests via the special IVES dispute fax lines in:

  • Austin at (855) 888-3161,
  • Fresno at (559) 456-7224,
  • Kansas City at (844) 251-8254, or  
  • Ogden at (855) 298-1143,

The fax covers sheets should note "10/28/20 IRS/SOR System Issue" or a similar indication that this is a follow-up to a problematic original request. This will alert the IRS to work these requests before others.

As for IVES requests not affected by this week's problems, the agency says those should be send to the general IVES fax numbers as normal.

Keeping your own copies: While the recent IVES' problem obviously is specific to loan applications and agents, the foul-up also is a good reminder to taxpayers to keep copies of their annual tax returns.

You never know when technology will turn on you or for how long. A few years ago, the IRS' separate Get Transcript online tool that taxpayers can use to request copies of their tax information was out of service for more than a year following a hacker attack.

Plus, having your personal (or business) tax documents on hand can be a big help, not just as a reference point for future filings, but also if you happen to need or want a loan.

Yes, your bank still will confirm that the tax and earning material you give them is correct.

But by having your tax filings available, you at least give the bank a head start in getting the loan process going.

And when you're trying to lock in a low loan interest rate, every day — or less! — makes a difference.

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