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From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Robert Siegel.
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And I'm Michele Norris. The Internal Revenue Service said today that people who filed their tax returns late because of problems with TurboTax software won't be penalized. Intuit, the company that makes TurboTax, says a lot of customers were unable to file their returns last night and may have missed the filing deadline. The company says its servers were just overwhelmed. NPR's Jim Zarroli has this report.
JIM ZARROLI: Derek Bullard says he's used to seeing those TV news stories about last-minute tax filers jamming the lobbies of post offices. But he says until last night, he never figured he'd have to battle crowds online as well. Bullard says he went to file his tax return yesterday using the tax-preparation software called TurboTax, which he's been using for five years.
Mr. DEREK BULLARD: I went to submit my taxes at about 9 p.m., and that's when the server started complaining that it was being flooded.
ZARROLI: Each time Bullard tried to submit his return, a message came back saying it had been rejected.
Mr. BULLARD: It was telling us to try back after another 10 minutes, and then that message changed to try back in two hours, and then it also said you should try back after 4 a.m., which is when it slows down.
ZARROLI: Past the filing deadline.
Mr. BULLARD: Yeah, past the filing deadline, so that wouldn't have done me much good.
ZARROLI: Bullard was considering printing out his return and taking it to his local post office in New York. Then, an hour and a half before the deadline, his return was finally accepted.
Today, the makers of TurboTax, the California-based company Intuit, said they had received numerous complaints from people who had trouble getting their returns processed. TurboTax has more than 20 million users, and that number had been growing rapidly, partly because the IRS does everything it can to encourage electronic filing. Harry Pforzheimer, a spokesman for the company, says the problem yesterday was that too many people tried to file at once.
Mr. HARRY PFORZHEIMER (Spokesman, Intuit): We saw early yesterday afternoon a significant demand coming into the system of late-minute filers, to the point where we were processing 50 to 60 returns per second. It equated to basically a million returns yesterday alone.
ZARROLI: Pforzheimer says delays were encountered by users of both TurboTax and ProSeries, which is used by professional tax preparers. Pforzheimer says the company tries the best it can to prepare for an onslaught of filers on the last day of tax season, but yesterday there were just too many.
Mr. PFORZHEIMER: We are seeing, and I think everybody is seeing this -including, you know, the IRS - is the tax season is getting later and later, and there are more procrastinators. This level of procrastination or demand that we had yesterday is certainly beyond anyone's expectation.
ZARROLI: But customers like Derek Bullard say that's no excuse. Bullard says a lot of people like to file at the last minute, especially if they owe money to the government.
Mr. BULLARD: I think that's everybody's right. That's what a deadline is for, and, you know, I'm sure that a lot of the people that waited were the people that owed money.
ZARROLI: Bullard says he's still waiting for the official word from the IRS that his return was received. Normally, late filers have to pay penalties of at least 5 percent of the money they owe, but IRS officials said they would waive penalties for TurboTax users who filed late or who weren't able to file at all. Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.
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