Most submitting taxes electronically, companies scramble to file

WASHINGTON – Taxpayers are scrambling to make the midnight tax-filing deadline and much of the action is at the computer keyboard.

“Most people are now filing electronically,” says Eric Smith, spokesman for the I.R.S. who says four of five federal tax returns are filed online.

Typically The I.R.S. receives about 20 percent of the annual tax returns in the final week before the April 15 midnight deadline, according to Smith.

About 10 million electronic files arrived at the I.R.S. over the past weekend.

“We’re set up for volume filing, we’re ready,” Smith says.

Companies including TurboTax and H&R Block transmit millions of the electronic returns to the I.R.S.

“When you’re filing electronically, you are going through a third party to one extent or another,” explains Smith.

But TurboTax’s website briefly went down Sunday evening, 24-hours before the tax-filing deadline, leaving some taxpayers frustrated.

“For about an hour we had some intermittent performance issues on our website,” says Julie Miller, spokeswoman for Intuit, the makers of TurboTax software.

But Miller says the problems have been resolved and taxpayers won’t face any glitches in the final hours.

“We haven’t had any other issues, so we’re going into the last filing day today with a high degree of confidence,” Miller says.

TurboTax software was used to prepare 25 million returns last year, 75 percent of them filed electronically.

The IRS says it works with its electronic filing partners like TurboTax ensuring that returns are processed by the deadline.

But can last-minute electronic-filing taxpayers be confident computer networks can withstand high volume so that their tax return will reach the I.R.S. in time?

“Making sure that you have a payment in by April 15 is certainly a good way to go here,” concedes Smith, but he also expresses confidence in the robustness of both the private and government computer networks.

“We’ve got a lot of experience with the system, our partners do too and we’ve dealt with high volumes on April 15th before,” Smith says.

Smith says the I.R.S. encourages taxpayers to file electronically.

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