Last-Minute Payers Using Intuit Software Swamp e-filing Servers

Wednesday, April 18th 2007, 7:18 am
By: News On 6

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ A California company that makes the popular TurboTax and ProSeries tax software said it expected to hear from the Internal Revenue Service Wednesday whether any taxpayers who used its e-filing system would be penalized for submitting late returns.

A flood of last-minute tax filers swamped the servers of Intuit Inc. on Tuesday, causing hours-long delays in getting forms sent in electronically to the government, said Harry Pforzheimer, a spokesman for the Mountain View-based company.

``We have talked to the IRS because of the amount of returns we are still filing,'' Pforzheimer said. ``It's fair to say the IRS understands what the situation is.''

A record number of returns from both individual taxpayers and accountants started causing delays early Tuesday in customers receiving online confirmation their tax returns were submitted successfully, he said.

As the midnight filing deadline approached, the problem got worse. During times of peak demand, Intuit was processing 50 to 60 returns per second, he said.

``The amount of filing that has been done today has been absolutely amazing, and we are doing everything we possibly can to expand capabilities of servers,'' Pforzheimer said.

While stopping short of promising that filers whose returns failed to reach the government on time would not face late fees, he described the IRS as sympathetic.

``Don't wait until the last minute is the moral of the story,'' he said.

An IRS spokesman did not immediately return a call Tuesday from The Associated Press.

Usually, it takes only a few minutes after hitting the submit button for TurboTax users to get a message indicating the transaction had gone through. By Tuesday evening, however, it was taking hours, Pforzheimer said.

``If you are sitting there and just did your taxes and want to get assurance it's been filed, it has to go into the queue,'' he said. ``We are processing as quickly as we can given the unbelievable demand and the last-minute demand. You can't increase capability quickly enough to solve the problem for every single individual hitting the OK button.''

Kansas City, Mo.-based H&R Block Inc., whose TaxCut software also allows people to file electronically, could not be reached Tuesday to determine if it also experienced processing problems.

Pforzheimer declined to estimate how many people had e-filed returns through Intuit so far. The company said last month that it had sold nearly 11 million copies of its TurboTax federal software as of March 17, although not everybody who uses the tax preparation software files electronically.