RealTime IT News

Study: Tax Sites Burdened by Heavy Traffic

No surprise, many Internet-savvy Americans have gone online in preparation for the IRS' April 16 tax-filing deadline.

However, the increased traffic to these tax-preparation sites may not be beneficial to the vendors or to their visitors, according to Keynote Systems, a provider of online performance measurement, diagnostic and consulting services.

"With the tax day less than six weeks away, and the public turning to online tax sites, Keynote is measuring the performance and availability to online filers of the major tax preparation sites, as well as the IRS site for obtaining and filing forms," said Mary Lindsay, a company spokesperson. "We have found that some financial service sites are being 'taxed' under the heavy load."

Keynote , which is based in San Mateo, Calif., is monitoring these sites as well as releasing regular performance reports between now and the tax-filing deadline.

The company's findings, for the month of February, include:

  • IRS.gov: Although it demonstrated reasonable performance averaging 3.01 seconds for the month, the success rate for online users accessing the site averaged only 72.7 percent, dipping as low as 61.8 percent on February 7 and 8.
  • Quicken.com/taxes: The site maintained good performance and high availability through February 19. The success rate then fell to as low as 45.5 percent. Site availability has been compromised ever since February 19, with the overall average success rate showing 62.4 percent. Performance was good for users that were able to download the page, averaging 2.68 seconds.

    The first two weeks of good performance, however, gave quicken.com/taxes a better overall average for the month than TaxCut.com and HRBlock.com.

  • TaxCut.com was the slowest site overall for the month, averaging 4.48 seconds, with 94.3 percent availability. It's daily performance averages have been in the 4 to 5 second range.

Meanwhile, the download performance report for the month, calculates that:

  • 1040.com showed 1.61 seconds performance with a 98.5 percent success rate.
  • HRBlock.com had 3.71 seconds performance with a 93.8 percent success rate.
  • Internal Revenue Service (IRS.gov) showed a 3.01 second performance with a 72.7 percent success rate.
  • MSN Money Central Taxes (moneycentral.msn.com/tax/home/asp) had 2.45 seconds performance with a 95.9 percent success rate.
  • NOLO Tax Site (nolo.com/category/tax_home.html) showed a 1.63 seconds performance with a 99.7 percent success rate.
  • Taxcut.com had a 4.48 seconds performance with a 94.3 percent success rate. Turbo Tax (quicken.com/taxes) showed a 3.47 seconds performance rate with a 65.6 percent success rate.

The average for all of the sites for the month was 2.79 seconds and a 91.4 percent success rate.