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The Almighty Buck

Turbo Tax Melts Down on Tax Day 554

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the procrastinators-in-a-pinch dept.
Raven17 writes "Turbo Tax by Intuit completely melted down under the load from last minute filers. Some people have been having problems as long as 24 hours already. I surrendered 2 hours before the East Coast deadline and schlepped on down to the Post Office."
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Turbo Tax Melts Down on Tax Day

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  • Back up at the wire (Score:5, Informative)

    by kannibal_klown (531544) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:12AM (#18780845)
    My mom used TurboTax (I got stuck w/ TaxCut this year). Anyway, she said it came back up just a few minutes before midnight. People were flipping out.

    Personally, I did mine back in February.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by tg2k (895772)
      I filed in February too, with TaxCut, but I intentionally switched to it years ago when TurboTax pulled their malware installation BS (the rootkit, if you'll remember, from about 2001 or 2002). I haven't looked back much, TaxCut has been pretty comparable in my opinion.
      • by TheRealFixer (552803) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:27AM (#18781071)
        I did the same. I think it was back in 2002. Caused a huge black eye for Intuit because they took forever to acknowledge there was a problem.

        I've been using TaxCut online since 2003, and it works great.
        • by LordKronos (470910) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:41AM (#18781293) Homepage
          I think it was probably a bigger black eye for H&R block last year (or was it the year before) when they mailed out a bunch of TaxCut CDs to past customers and put their SSN on the address label.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by metlin (258108)
      I just find it way easier to pay an tax preparer to do it for me.

      Easier and less of a headache. Besides, they tend to get you more savings than you would by yourself.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by hackstraw (262471)
      Personally, I did mine back in February.

      Same here. My algorithm is "If government owes me money, file taxes ASAP, else if I owe government money, file taxes as close to April 15th as possible".
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by mutterc (828335)

        One needn't wait... one can spec on one's tax forms a date to direct-debit the amount owed, anytime up to 4/15.

  • by Timesprout (579035) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:13AM (#18780857)
    on my blackberry.
  • Perhaps (Score:5, Funny)

    by niiler (716140) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:14AM (#18780865) Journal
    Sourceforge could help them with their server load next year :-)
  • by NeverVotedBush (1041088) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:14AM (#18780879)
    It was basically a manual DNS attack. With so many waiting until the last minute, what do people expect? File at least a day before the deadline. What difference does a day's worth of interest make on the average IRS tax bill? And if people are so concerned about a day's worth of interest, print the damn return and mail it with a check. That way you get a few more days of interest.

    I just don't understand the dorks that wait so long they have no options.
    • by Mr. Underbridge (666784) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:20AM (#18780955)

      It was basically a manual DNS attack. With so many waiting until the last minute, what do people expect? File at least a day before the deadline. What difference does a day's worth of interest make on the average IRS tax bill? And if people are so concerned about a day's worth of interest, print the damn return and mail it with a check. That way you get a few more days of interest.

      All true, but the fact that people wait until the deadline is not news. If you're going to get into the online tax-prep business, you'd better have a stout server. This kind of failure can kill a business.

      • by tehSpork (1000190) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:28AM (#18781099)
        All true, but the fact that people wait until the deadline is not news. If you're going to get into the online tax-prep business, you'd better have a stout server. This kind of failure can kill a business.

        Or a stout series of servers, God knows you shouldn't be relying on a single box to handle that information with that liability.
        • by FooAtWFU (699187)

          All true, but the fact that people wait until the deadline is not news. If you're going to get into the online tax-prep business, you'd better have a stout server. This kind of failure can kill a business.

          Or a stout series of servers, God knows you shouldn't be relying on a single box to handle that information with that liability.

          IBM called; they'd like to sell you some On Demand e-Business infrastructure. (I'd bet Sun has some "grid computing" power to sell as well...)

        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by proxy318 (944196)
          Or a series of stouts. I know I'd be looking for a beer if my servers went down right before the deadline.
    • by Aladrin (926209) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:21AM (#18780965)
      I think you meant 'DOS attack', but it was more like a self-slashdotting.

      As for people... Combine laziness and hatred and you end up with a gajillion people that will wait until the last possible second to deal with it. It shouldn't be a real big surprise.
    • With so many waiting until the last minute, what do people expect?

      There was a story on NPR a day or so ago on the subject of tax filings. An IRS spokeswoman mentioned that more people than ever (a euphemism for "I don't remember the percentages") are filing electronically. Of those filing electronically, most file last minute like their paper counterparts.

      Plus ca change, huh?

      At any rate, I don't think it's fair to characterise last-minute filers as fools. Everyone hates hates filing. It's human nature
      • Also, if you are not getting a refund, filing on the last day makes fiancial sense, as you can earn interest on your money up until the last day.

        (Ok, so only if you don't know that you can post-date your filing, but...)
    • by powermacx (887715) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:34AM (#18781189)
      Losers. I did my taxes last year. - Homer
    • It was basically a manual DNS attack. With so many waiting until the last minute, what do people expect? File at least a day before the deadline. What difference does a day's worth of interest make on the average IRS tax bill? And if people are so concerned about a day's worth of interest, print the damn return and mail it with a check. That way you get a few more days of interest.

      I just don't understand the dorks that wait so long they have no options.


      More than a decade ago, I a had a friend at a former
    • by LordKronos (470910) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:53AM (#18781497) Homepage

      File at least a day before the deadline. What difference does a day's worth of interest make on the average IRS tax bill?


      File a few weeks before. When you file and when you pay can be different, so you aren't actually losing any interest. You can file in January but tell the IRS to deduct it from your bank account on the due date in April. Or you can do the same if you are paying by check (file in January, mail check in April).
    • by pla (258480) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:58AM (#18781609) Journal
      What difference does a day's worth of interest make on the average IRS tax bill?

      Just for those who never thought about this, what you suggest works the other way, as well... As long as they owe you a refund, nothing bad happens if you file a day late.

      The IRS bases all its penalties on how much you owe. Don't owe anything? No penalties for filing a day late.



      The government cares that it gets your money. It doesn't care so much if you don't get your money.
  • by otacon (445694) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:16AM (#18780901)
    schlep : to drag or haul (an object); to make a tedious journey (from Yiddish shlepn; cf. German schleppen)
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by elrous0 (869638) *
      ...and pronounced like someone with pneumonia would pronounce "slept"
  • by 192939495969798999 (58312) <info@devi n m oore.com> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:16AM (#18780911) Homepage Journal
    line backs up at post office, line backs up with turbotax. Do they have some kinda guarantee about "if you file by x, even if our systems are down, you get credit?" I doubt it, they must've anticipated this very scenario!
    • by Ctrl-Z (28806)
      In real life, and online, you can get much better results by filing a day earlier.
    • by bhalter80 (916317)
      This is why I did my taxes with TaxCut in February as soon as the documents were available then as I owed money waited until Saturday to mail my return. That way there were no 4/15 surprises over how much was owed, any technical problems could be avoided and the line at the post office was fairly short. Its called planning folks its not news that taxes are due within a couple of days of 4/15. I could understand it if you were new to the country, or just started working for the first time and this is a ne
  • ....to file for an extension. Or, better yet, file in February as soon as all the necessary paperwork comes in. Perhaps this is the gods' way of paying back Intuit for some of their indiscretions with our personal data (and software activation) a couple of years back.
    • Perhaps this is the gods' way of paying back Intuit...


      Paying them back by giving them so many customers they can't keep up? As a business owner, I'll gladly take some of that "punishment".
  • by ReidMaynard (161608) * on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:17AM (#18780925) Homepage
    I shipped my 15% (30 hogs) early, to avoid problems just like this
  • Turbotax Issues (Score:4, Informative)

    by mwilliamson (672411) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:24AM (#18781021) Homepage Journal
    I had royal problems when I got to the very last step on turbotax, right where you click to submit to the IRS. After a good 15 second wait, I got an error about being overloaded, and to try again later. What really sucked is that I couldn't start from that point again, but instead had to re-visit the last bunch of questions I had already answered. Being their Website is so format heavy, each screen took a good 10-15 seconds to draw on this 1.8 Ghz box, so the entire process was quite annoying. After 3 tries and some minor sheet-rock damage, I had to print the whole damn thing out and drive across town to our main post office. To add insult to injury, turbotax took my money before this last step was available. This sucks. I got ripped off, and I wont't get my tax refund in the usual week and 1/2 since I had to mail it. (at least a got a refund though...albeit little bitty)
    • by Applekid (993327) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:30AM (#18781127)
      "(at least a got a refund though...albeit little bitty)"

      Because someone has to say it:

      Getting a refund compared to having to pay is bad. The government collected too much in taxes (well, more than they are required to by law). This money was denied to you throughout the year. Money which could have been earning interest, used for investments, hell, eating out a few more nights a month.

      You get your refund back interest-free from the gov. It's really no different than if you left a $20 in your coat pocket during the winter only to find it the next year. Sure it FEELS GOOD, but, that could have been doing something much more useful than just sleeping in a pocket.

      Then again, there are penalties imposed if you fix your W-4 (and other forms) so that they don't withhold anything and you have to pay all your tax once a year. I think that's too bad.
      • by Zenaku (821866) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:17AM (#18781891)
        That's all true, but I'd still rather get a refund every year than owe. The amount of interest that I would earn by having that money in my pocket throughout the year is not significant. In reality, it is non-existent, because (and here I'm just being honest with myself) I'd only end up pissing it away on small luxuries. The amount of extra money in my pocket each paycheck would only be enough to make me dine out more, upgrade my cable package, or buy a new ipod or something.

        And then when my tax bill came at last, it would feel like a hardship.

        This is because each time I get paid, I pay my mortgage and bills, transfer a fixed amount into my various savings and investment accounts, and consider whatever is left to be mine to play with.

        By getting a refund at tax time, I may have missed out on the interest, but the "found" money is large enough that I won't be inclined to waste it -- I'll make a major purchase, pay off a loan, or -- now that the amount is big enough to mean something to me -- put it into an interest-bearing account or investment.

        Plus, the fact that I'm getting a refund is motivation to file in February, and avoid this whole April 15th mess.

        So yeah, giving the government an interest-free loan is mathematically foolish -- but when you take psychology into account it can be better than owing them.
      • by vorpal22 (114901) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:34AM (#18782151) Homepage Journal
        Sure it FEELS GOOD, but, that could have been doing something much more useful than just sleeping in a pocket.

        In my opinion, feeling good is highly underrated. If the psychological joy of getting money back on taxes outweighs the joy from interest incurred from having that money early for someone, then I don't see a problem. God knows we pay enough in entertainment costs in a year to make ourselves feel good.
    • For the love of god! You've had four and half months to do your damn taxes! Why are you waiting if you were expecting a refund?!?

  • Why not do your taxes in the first couple weeks of January? All your information is fresh in your mind, and you've still got plenty of time. If you owe money, wait to file until the last minute, so all you've got to do is come home from work and click a couple buttons. If you're getting a return, file immediately. I did that this year and got my return in less than a week.

    Why people procrastinate on something like this is ridiculous. If the average American put half the time into doing their taxes as they

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Texodore (56174)
      Our W-2 (report of what we made - required when filing the return) doesn't arrive until Jan. 31st or a little after. The earliest most of us can do our taxes is early in February. And if you're like me and your former company filed an amended W-2, you get to wait a bit longer or file an amended return.

      But yeah, that's still 2 and a half months.
    • Why not do your taxes in the first couple weeks of January?

      Because most companies wait until the very last possible moment to send their W-2's out.
      • Because most companies wait until the very last possible moment to send their W-2's out.

        And the "last possible moment" still gives 2 months or so of time. After working phone support for Intuit during tax season (NEVER. AGAIN.) a few years ago, I can't say I have any sympathy for the procrastinators.
        • Oh, I agree. My taxes were done the day after I got the W-2 in the mail. Just responding to the argument about doing them the first couple weeks in January.
        • I can't say I have any sympathy for the procrastinators.

          If you really filed that early, you might investigate amending your return to claim the phone tax credit. A number of changes to the tax code weren't really in place in January. This was the year of the procrastinator, not the pig -- thanks to congress and the IRS.

    • by will_die (586523)
      I usally don't get my W-2 until late January then it takes until lat Feburary for the other forms to get in. I fill out the forms (electronicly) then wait for revisions to various forms which then require I make changes to the tax forms. So come start of April I have had a few revisions and I figure most are stable and then I submit my taxes.
  • *every* year on tax filing deadline, either there's a super long line at the Post Office, or the e-filing sites are overloaded. can't people file a bit earlier? even a week ago would've been much better.

    the earlier you get your refund, the more interest it can accrue in your savings account as opposed to an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam...

    no webserver is expected to survive if you way overload it. you can't really blame Intuit/Turbotax on this one.
    • >the earlier you get your refund, the more interest it can accrue in your savings account as opposed to an interest-free loan to Uncle Sam...

      assuming you get a refund, personally i like to wait as long as possible before paying the government (which means i didn't give them a interest-free loan like most americans).

      But even I'm smart enough to file a few days ahead of the final day
    • by tha_mink (518151)

      *every* year on tax filing deadline, either there's a super long line at the Post Office, or the e-filing sites are overloaded. can't people file a bit earlier? even a week ago would've been much better.

      Post office lines are one thing. Being a company that sells e-file service with no capacity to actually um...efile...is a whole different matter. If you don't get a refund and want to wait to give your money away till the last possible moment and there's a company who claims you can, why wouldn't you. Plus, if you tried to file on Turbo Tax's website last night, they never even posted a warning that they were experiencing problems. With the size of their company, one would think they'd be able to handl

  • by Aaron_Pike (528044) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:28AM (#18781077) Homepage
    If only there were some way to file in March, or even February. But that could only happen if employers had a deadline to send out W-2 forms by like the end of January.
    • As someone who always files in February. I can say it is a lot less stress. Then waiting the last minute. I can take weeks gathering all my papers going threw my expenses and logging what I think I can deduct. Then I go to the financial advisor who actually does the tax work (which is far less hassle then Turbo Tax) because I give them all the paper work and they fill it out and give you advice like My Computer isn't tax detuctable if you did then it would be a Red Flag for an Audit. Then by April I have
  • Netcraft confirms (Score:2, Interesting)

    by ceeam (39911)
    http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph/?host=www.turb otax.com [netcraft.com]

    May it be related to moving from Solaris to Linux last summer?

    [/me hides]
    • Re:Netcraft confirms (Score:5, Informative)

      by chong (67651) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:43AM (#18781321) Homepage
      TurboTax.com does not host the online TurboTax application - that's the brochure-ware for turbotax. Those servers also do not host Intuit's electronic filing services (which are hosted indenpendently from turbo tax online as well).

      The TurboTax web app is hosted @ www.turbotaxonline.com and still runs on Solaris (http://uptime.netcraft.com/up/graph?site=www.turb otaxonline.com)
  • by cyberkahn (398201) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:31AM (#18781153) Homepage
    I used Turbo Tax for the last time this year. This was my second year and in retrospect it is just not worth it. Over $60 for the software, then it's I think $30 dollars to e-file, which I didn't do (certified mail). The total cost of software plus all the hours of my personal time to me it just isn't worth it. I am going to pay to have someone do it for me next year.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by CastrTroy (595695)
      Wow, that's expensive. I'm using uFile in Canada, and it's $16 to fill in your return, and submit it electronically. All inclusive.
  • by CastrTroy (595695) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:36AM (#18781217) Homepage
    Would you look at those morons... I paid my taxes over a year ago!
  • The E-File portion of TurboTax melted down. The rest of it worked just fine. I printed out my return and mailed it off from the post office in my area that stays open late on tax day. I even made a last-minute adjustment (found a receipt for a charitable contribution I forgot about) before I printed it off. Given that there's at least one post office in most areas that stayed open until midnight on tax day, there should've still been options better than hoping Intuit got their act together before midnig
  • Maybe they should not have waited until the last minute. I finished my taxes and got my refund over a month ago. There is absolutely no excuse for waiting until the last minute to file.
  • For next year... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Avatar8 (748465) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:45AM (#18781363)
    Will Intuit learn their lesson and strengthen their servers and network for next year's last minute rush? Given their track record of quality, I seriously doubt it.


    Will the procrastinators learn their lesson and file at least a day early? Heck no. They even had two extra days this year. If paying the taxes is the issue, that's what an extension is for.

    I am a horrible procrastinator myself, but I guess my greed overpowers that. My taxes were done, returned and spent in February. Woot! New PC!

    I also learned a few years back that Turbo Tax is no better than most of the other products out there, free or otherwise. I've been using http://www.taxact.com/ [taxact.com] for the past three years. I usually do the download, but I tried the web version for my mother-in-law's taxes. Very smooth, quick, painless and best of all, completely free. I did my mother-in-law's taxes Sunday, 4/15. That's the latest I've ever filed a return. Guess I'm getting sloppy like the unwashed masses.

  • If you're a service provider making money hosting software (or a feature of your software) over the net, put as much capacity as you think you'll need in place, then put in the ability to add more immediately to account for things like this.

    There are limits to this, but it's a basic fact of hosted apps. All of your customers might actually want to use your software at once. At any given time. Therefore, if you have your salespeople signing up a few million more customers, it's time to plow some of the profi
  • systems like this which need to survive under massive data spikes ought to be designed to handle them--meaning that the software, rather than simply timing out after fifteen seconds, out to be acting more-or-less like TCP/IP: use exponential backoff. If it can't connect in 15 seconds, wait 30 and try again, then wait 60, then 120, etc... up to some maximum timeout value. The spacing gives turbotax's servers a chance to keep up (by spreading out the submissions over a longer period of time) and keeps the u
  • by Temkin (112574) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @08:53AM (#18781501)


    I filed monday morning. I'm still waiting for my confirmation. I'm going to have to call the IRS to find out if it was actually transmitted. You have to admit, it's a neat loophole. The government isn't alllowed to entrap you, so they get a corperation to do it for them, and reap the penalty rewards. Hey we gotta pay for GW's spending somehow, right?

    I'm not going to be a guinea pig for their e-file fantasies/experments. If I pay a cent in penalties, the IRS will get paper from me for a decade.
  • Intuit's support [intuit.com] says:

    Update, 6:30am, April 18: Outstanding issues with our servers have been resolved and we are currently processing all customers' returns and requests for status checks at a normal rate. As we mentioned earlier, we are working with the IRS this morning to ensure that returns will be considered as timely filed even if transmitted to us past midnight.

    We encourage customers to continue trying to e-file; if you have been unable to successfully transmit, please try again.

    If you have transmit
  • I did my taxes a year ago!

    or

    "I pay the Homer tax, let the bear pay the bear tax."

  • Procastinators rejoice!
    The IRS [irs.gov] website says:

    R-2007-89, April 16, 2007 WASHINGTON -- Victims of the major storm affecting several Northeastern states on Monday, April 16 will have two additional days to file their tax returns beyond the April 17 tax deadline, the Internal Revenue Service announced today. Taxpayers directly impacted by the storm have until midnight April 19 to meet their tax filing obligations without incurring late filing and payment penalties.

  • Homer Simpson: "Look at all those fools running around at the last minute. I did mine last year."
    Lisa Simpson: "Dad, you have to file your taxes every year."
    [Homer scream]
  • My objection to E-Filing is that I have to pay for it. To E-File my federal and state returns, generated by software running locally on my computer, would have cost me about $30 above the cost of the software. Why? It is not the IRS that charges this fee, E-Filing saves them money and they'd be happier if everyone does it. It is the tax preparation company that generates this fee.

    It was a sweetheart deal made in some back room years ago - the IRS will not accept E-Filings from private citizens except v
  • 2-day Extension (Score:5, Informative)

    by flamingnight (234353) <chris@garaffa.gmail@com> on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:04AM (#18781697)
    If you were affected by the storm that hit parts of the East Coast over the weekend, the IRS has granted [marketwatch.com] a 2-day tax extension. Just write "April 16 Storm" on your return.
  • EULA (Score:4, Informative)

    by Wisconsingod (995241) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:09AM (#18781781) Journal
    TurboTax online has a few key points in their EULA that will protect thiem from these fiascos.

    to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, intuit and its suppliers are not liable for any indirect, special, incidental, exemplary or consequential damages or for damages relating to loss of business, telecommunication failures, loss, corruption, security or theft of data, viruses, spyware, loss of profits or investment, tax positions taken by you, inability to file your return, or the like, whether based in contract, tort (including negligence), strict liability, product liability or otherwise, even if intuit or its suppliers have been advised of the possibility of such damages and even if a remedy set forth herein is found to have failed of its essential purpose.

    the software and services are provided "as-is" and, to the maximum extent permitted by applicable law, intuit, its affiliates, licensors, participating financial institutions, third-party content or service providers, retailers, distributors, dealers and suppliers (collectively, "suppliers") disclaim all guarantees and warranties, express or implied, regarding the software or services, including any warranty of fitness for a particular purpose, title, merchantability, and non-infringement. intuit does not warrant that software or services are secure, free from bugs, viruses, interruption, errors, or other program limitations
    or my personal favorite, don't buy the software until you print clause....

    you may use the software without charge up to the point you decide to print or electronically file your tax return. printing or electronically filing your return reflects your satisfaction with software, at which time you will be required to pay or register for the product.
  • efiling a ripoff (Score:4, Interesting)

    by virtual_mps (62997) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @09:27AM (#18782039)
    Am I really the only one who thinks it's ridiculous to pay intuit $30 to send my return electronically (which actually is cheaper for the IRS to process) rather than slapping a stamp on it and dropping it in the mailbox on the way to work? What am I missing here?
    • Re:efiling a ripoff (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Lxy (80823) on Wednesday April 18, 2007 @10:24AM (#18782853) Journal
      It's all about speed. How quickly do you want your refund?

      efile + direct deposit means a refund in (usually) 72 hours or less. It's almost instant money.

      mailed + direct deposit means a refund in 2-3 weeks. Very acceptable, and if you're cheap like me it's a great option.

      mailed + mailed check means a refund in a month or two.

      Mailing a check is apparently the biggest delay. So if you, for whatever reason, efiled and want a paper check, you're wasting your money.

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