Late filers swamp TurboTax

A flood of last-minute tax filers caused long delays for Intuit customers trying to check on the status of their electronic returns.

By Jessica Dickler, staff writer

NEW YORK ( -- A flood of last-minute tax filers swamped Intuit Inc.'s e-filing system early Tuesday, causing long delays for taxpayers trying to check that their electronic returns had been submitted successfully.

Intuit (Charts), which makes the popular TurboTax and ProSeries tax software, posted a message on its TurboTax web site Wednesday morning that notified filers that they could not access their returns.

As a result, filers who had waited until Tuesday's deadline to submit their federal and state income tax forms electronically did not know if their returns were processed by the midnight cutoff.

By late morning Wednesday, however, the message was taken down and users, according to Intuit spokesman Harry Pforzheimer, should have received a confirmation that their returns had been filed.

On Wednesday afternoon, the IRS granted a two-day extension to taxpayers who were unable to e-file their returns using Intuit software products on Tuesday evening. They now have until 11:59 p.m. on Thursday, April 19 to file.

Pforzheimer blamed the problem on technical difficulties resulting from a last-minute flood of returns filed starting early as Tuesday afternoon.

During peak demand, Intuit was processing 50 to 60 returns per second, he said. "We started seeing a very significant slowdown in the database," he added, noting that the company processed more than a million tax returns Tuesday.

By Wednesday morning, however, all returns filed before the deadline had been processed, said Pforzheimer.

Calling the glitch "just not acceptable," Pforzheimer said the company will test its system's capability during the off-season to avoid a repeat of the problem.

Intuit has said that this year more people waited to file their returns closer to the April deadline. Last year, over 20 million people filed their taxes with TurboTax, which generates about 25 percent of Intuit's revenue.

As of last weekend, the number of e-filers hit a record of 61 million this year, up 6 percent from the year earlier, according to the IRS. Top of page