E-Filers Find Midnight Comes Sooner Than They Think

Two tax e-filing sites say they can't guarantee returns filed late tonight will get an April 15 time stamp.
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If you're living on the edge, expecting to be able to electronically file your taxes at the last possible moment, beware: Some e-filing sites won't guarantee that returns filed late tonight will be time-stamped before midnight.

Kiplinger's

TaxCut site carries a notice that returns should be filed by 5 p.m. Central Daylight Time (6 p.m. EDT). There's no further elaboration, but spokesman Gene Goldenberg says there's no guarantee returns filed after that time will get an April 15 time stamp.

"With the number of returns we're expecting to come in, we need time to make sure they get to the IRS in time," he says.

And officials at

TaxAct say they won't guarantee returns filled out on the site after 10:30 p.m. EDT will be transmitted and accepted in time, though there's no warning posted. Marketing vice president Cammie Grief says the technical support staff is going home at 11 p.m.

Electronically filed returns don't have to actually reach the

Internal Revenue Service's

computers by midnight. Taxpayers simply need to be able to prove they filed their returns by midnight with a time-stamped notification from the e-filing company stating that the returns were accepted. It's the same as having old-fashioned paper returns postmarked by midnight at the post office.

But this is the first year the IRS has pushed electronic tax filing, and many e-filing sites were not prepared for the surge of traffic. The

TurboTax site was down for a few hours on Monday. On Wednesday, more than 110,000 returns were e-filed using TurboTax software or the WebTurboTax site. That is its highest daily volume ever, says spokeswoman Jennifer Roberts.

For the entire tax season, more than 288,000 returns have been filed at the TurboTax site, about 45% of which were filed under the Quicken Tax Freedom program, which offered free filing for taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes under $20,000.

Roberts says any returns successfully filed until midnight should get an April 15 time stamp, though she is aware that users have had difficulty filing due to heavy traffic on the site. "That doesn't mean the site is down," she says, urging filers to keep trying.

Securetax.com also was down for two hours on Monday, due to an enormous swell in traffic. But additional capacity was added to the site and the company believes it's prepared for tonight's rush, says spokeswoman Bobbi Feldman.

Since Saturday, the number of filers on Securetax.com has been increasing at a rate of 25.8% per day. The total number of returns filed is 886% higher than last year at this time, says Feldman.

Kiplinger's Goldenberg says his site has experienced no technical problems and that more than 600,000 returns will have been e-filed at the TaxCut site by the end of the day, compared with just over 210,000 last year. On April 13 alone, about 25,000 returns were successfully e-filed, and the company expects another 50,000 to 60,000 before midnight.