Some PayPal users complain of tax records delay

As California's sales-tax deadline looms, some eBay sellers say they can't download data needed for tax filing.

Just two weeks before they are supposed to file business taxes for 2005, some eBay sellers based in California say they are being prevented from downloading transaction records needed to complete their filings.

According to numerous postings on message boards on PayPal and parent company eBay, some eBay sellers who tried to download their transaction history for the year received an error message or a notice that told them to try again later.

"I have not been able to download any Paypal history for Jan '05 all the way up to Sept '05," said one post on eBay's message board. "I am trying one month at a time."

This was making some eBay sellers in California antsy on Thursday as the state's deadline for sales tax is Jan. 31, giving them two weeks to prepare their filings.

Sara Bettencourt, a PayPal spokeswoman, acknowledged that the company had received calls about the issue but that it was an isolated problem that affected only a small number of customers. PayPal is far and away the most popular electronic payment method for online auctions.

"It's not a systemwide issue," Bettencourt said. When asked why there appeared to be dozens of people complaining about the problem, she noted that PayPal has 87 million customer accounts and that this would equal only a tiny fraction of the company's customer base. She said the company's technicians would help "walk them through the solution" on an individual basis.

Frustrating many of the sellers who have failed to download their transaction history is that they say PayPal representatives have continually told them that the problem is fixed. But when they try to download the information needed, very little or nothing is available, the sellers say.

"I have called and have talked with over a dozen different people," said one eBay seller on the auction site's message board. "I have also e-mailed numerous times, and even though they reply daily telling me, 'It is now fixed and you can download your history,' here I sit again tonight and it doesn't work."

Bettencourt said that some customers were also experiencing problems accessing their Recent Activity section, which is a history of their recent transactions. She said that the company expected technicians to repair the problem by Thursday evening.

In September, PayPal suffered a glitch that caused duplicate debit card withdrawals and deposits on some customer accounts. In October 2004, a bug in the company's software locked some customers out of their accounts. The site suffered several days of intermittent performance.

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