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Tax sites already seeing traffic spike

A wave of Americans are getting a jump on April 15 this year by heading to the Web early for help with their tax preparation, according to research.

A wave of Americans are getting a jump on April 15 this year by heading to the Web early for help with their tax preparation, according to research.

Internet measurement company Nielsen/NetRatings said traffic to tax preparation sites has shown a dramatic rise during the week ending Jan. 21.

Among the Web sites with the largest spikes in traffic were Intuit.com and IRS.gov. Intuit, which makes tax preparation software, saw 608,000 unique visitors to Intuit.com, which almost doubled the number from the prior week, Nielsen said Thursday. Visitors to IRS.gov rose 57 percent to 551,000. Taxpayers spent on average about 12 minutes per visit, mostly downloading new tax forms.

Analysts have predicted that consumers will eventually use the Web to complete many tax-preparation chores--everything from accessing forms, to preparing and filing their income statements via the Web.

For consumers to swap traditional tax-preparation methods for the Web, analysts say taxpayers need to get over their skittishness about security concerns. Last year, Hrblock.com, the Web site of tax-preparation giant H&R Block suffered a series of outages and other problems, including the exposures of some customers' private tax records to other customers.