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Late Filers Swamp TurboTax E-File System 

A flood of last-minute tax filers swamped the servers of the company that makes the popular TurboTax and ProSeries tax software Tuesday, forcing taxpayers to wait hours for confirmation that their electronic returns had been submitted successfully.

A record number of returns from both individual taxpayers and accountants started causing delays in Intuit's e-filing system early Tuesday, and the problem got worse as the midnight deadline for getting forms to the Internal Revenue Service approached, said Harry Pforzheimer, a company spokesman.

"The amount of filing that has been done today has been absolutely amazing, and we are doing everything we possibly can to expand capabilities of servers," Pforzheimer said. During times of peak of demand, Intuit was processing 50 to 60 returns per second, he said.

The Mountain View-based company contacted the IRS to alert the agency to the backlog, Pforzheimer said. While stopping short of promising that filers whose returns fail to reach the government before the deadline would not be penalized, he said, "it's fair to say the IRS understands what the situation is" and would have a statement about the situation Wednesday.

"Don't wait until the last minute is the moral of the story," he said.

Usually, it takes only a few minutes after hitting the submit button for TurboTax users to get a message indicating the transaction had gone through. By Tuesday evening, however, it was taking hours, Pforzheimer said.

"If you are sitting there and just did your taxes and want to get assurance it's been filed, it has to go into the queue," he said. "We are processing as quickly as we can given the unbelievable demand and the last-minute demand. You can't increase capability quickly enough to solve the problem for every single individual hitting the OK button."

Pforzheimer declined to estimate of how many people had e-filed returns through Intuit so far. The company said last month that it had sold nearly 11 million copies of its TurboTax federal software as of March 17, although not everybody who uses the tax preparation software files electronically.

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