had to close the doors to the online tax-filing section of its
Web site because of technical problems.
It was not immediately clear how long the site has been out of service.
Some 100,000 taxpayers have accessed the site since its Jan. 21 launch, and it simply wasn't able to handle the traffic, said Gene Goldenberg, senior vice president of software and e-commerce at H&R Block.
Goldenberg said Tuesday afternoon that the site would be back up within 48 hours. Users who already have entered information or returns into the site will not lose their data, he added.
Users who are unable to access the hrblock.com tax-filing site are being offered free downloads of
, federal tax-preparation software, which can be installed on a home computer, said Goldenberg. The software sells for $14.95 in stores. (If you use the downloaded software, it will cost you $6.95 to electronically file your return. Or you can print and mail your return for the cost of a stamp.)
The outage is an inauspicious start for H&R Block's tax-filing site, which is intended to eventually replace the TaxCut site. Both sites are created by
, the software arm of H&R Block.
But if you began filing your taxes at hrblock.com, don't expect that you can simply finish filing at the TaxCut site. That site will not open for the 1999 tax season until Feb. 5. And besides, data is not transferable between the two sites, H&R Block officials said.
From now until tax day, we'll update you weekly (more frequently when news breaks) on the state of online tax filing.
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We're also launching a message board where you can post your questions and concerns and help each other get through this annual rite of passage.
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email@example.com, and we'll try to answer them in this space. We can't guarantee we'll get to all of them, but if you're having a tough time getting through to customer service, let us flex some muscle and give it a shot.