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Performance Tracking  > 2017 Tax Websites  > Introduction

WebSitePulse 2017 Tax Performance and Uptime Report

Tax season is already on and it will continue until April 18th 2017.

Tax e-filing has been gaining more and more popularity as more than 128 million returns were e-filed last year by the US taxpayers. According to IRS, some of the benefits of e-filing taxes are:

  • Accuracy – estimates for the error rate for electronic returns is 1 of 200, compared to 10 – 21 percent for the error rate for paper returns.
  • Speed – an e-filled tax return is usually processed by IRS on 1-2 days, which will result the refunds to be returned in 10 days to 2 weeks. A paper submitted tax refund could take as long as 6 weeks.
  • Confirmation – the IRS immediately acknowledges the receipt of a tax return when it is filed electronically. And if the IRS discovers a defect in the filing, you will receive notice within a day or so.
  • Recordkeeping – electronic records are easier to work with than paper records when entering data or referring to prior year taxes.
  • Cheap and Green – no paper nor toner cartridge use. No gas needed to drive to the Post Office. And if your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) is $58,000 or less, you can file for free using IRS-approved Free File software.

With the growing popularity of tax e-filing, however, the cases of stolen personal data and refunds during tax season have grown as well. Cyber-thieves have taken notice of the popularity of online tax filing, and they are working to come up with new ways to intercept and steal sensitive information transmitted electronically. So if you file electronically through a third-party preparer, then you have to trust that company will keep your information safe. That is why being extra alert when choosing a tax refund website is a must as cybercriminals come up with a variety of ways to trick you into filling out your personal details on a fraudulent website.

On another note, even if you are using a real tax refund website, and have taken all precautions to secure your personal information and avoid fraud, you may encounter the following problem: If the chosen website is not prepared to deal with heavy traffic load, it might slow down your process or it might freeze during a critical stage of the e-filing. As a result, you may fail to submit your tax refund or you may lose all the information you have been filling out for hours.

As a monitoring company, every year we monitor precisely the response time and uptime of popular tax refund websites during tax season to see how they handle the heavy traffic and then we report their performance and availability on a daily basis. As usual, we have picked 12 of the most popular websites to monitor and compare their performance.

The reports reflect not only the tax websites’ home pages performance, but any web transaction process as well as websites’ response time and uptime. To be more specific, measurements of e-transactions are made every 15 minutes, from 3 different monitoring locations in the U.S. Also, to ensure the accuracy of the monitoring recordings, we use false alarm prevention system and error verification controls. The tax-return websites response and uptime reports will be published after April 5th 2017.