Intuit tax site faces brief tech crunch

The company's online tax filing system, which lets people send tax forms directly to the IRS over the Internet, was inaccessible for over 24 hours.

2 min read
Intuit's tax site went offline during a crunch filing period, and concerned taxpayers weren't happy about the timing.

The company confirmed on Thursday that its online tax filing system, which lets people send tax forms directly to the Internal Revenue Service over the Internet, was inaccessible for over 24 hours beginning Wednesday morning.

Intuit spokeswoman Julie Miller said the company took down the back end of its TurboTax Web site for maintenance and in the process decided to install some hardware. The installation caused the process to take "a little longer than normal," said Miller.

The site was fully operational again shortly before 1 p.m. PST on Thursday.

"We know it's an inconvenience for our customers, and for that we apologize, but we clearly want to make sure that the system is working correctly at all times," she said.

During the outage, customers were allowed to fill out tax forms but could not electronically file those forms, according to the company.

The problems come at the height of tax filing season, as droves of people seek to file their taxes ahead of the April 15 deadline. The number of people looking to the Web to file taxes electronically has grown in recent years. According to the IRS, 10.29 million taxpayers filed their returns online in 1999 by Feb. 12.

Roger Hawkins, 41, is one customer who is waiting to file his taxes and said he had been inconvenienced by the site's downtime.

"I'm leaving the country in a few days and if I can't get them through, than they'll have to be filed in paper," said Hawkins, who lives in Texas and works as a systems engineer. "It makes it very frustrating because I'm doing it for convenience."

Intuit has been counting on strong sales of its online tax software and Web-based filing system as sales for its software product have gotten a slow start this tax season.

In December of last year, retail sales of TurboTax lagged behind the previous year's sales by as much as 30 percent, according to PC Data. Since then, tax software sales have picked up dramatically. The company had said it had expected more people to purchase the software online closer to tax time, rather than picking the software up from retail outlets.

To boost profits, Intuit raised the retail price of its TurboTax software to $14.95 from $9.95 including rebates, and its TurboTax for the Web service to $14.95 from $9.95.

In its most recent earnings announcement, Intuit topped analysts' estimates but came up slightly short in total sales. The company reported a profit of $104.2 million, or 48 cents a share, on sales of $457.6 million.