IRS Web site is a hit—767 million times over

Between Jan. 1 and April 18, taxpayers hit the IRS Web site 767 million times—a
123 percent increase over last year.

The IRS defines one hit as one Hypertext Transfer Protocol transfer. The site, at, drew 25.4 million hits on April 15 alone, said Linda Wallace, chief of
Electronic Information Services.

IRS postings are in Standard Generalized Markup Language format, which is automatically
translated into a visitor’s choice of Adobe Portable Document Format, Adobe
PostScript, Hewlett-Packard Printer Control Language, Hypertext Markup Language and other

“One size does not fit all,” Wallace said.

The site had 39 million File Transfer Protocol transfers from Jan. 1 to April 1,
Wallace said. The 15 million FTP transfers in March doubled last year’s count, she

Wallace would not, for security reasons, discuss the hardware and software used on the
site. IRS officials have found two ways of improving bandwidth, she said.

Multiple Internet service providers cache out parts of the Web site to shorten download
times for distant areas. Also, through a year-old corporate partner program, 2,200
employers mirror parts of the site on their intranets, providing tax forms and filing
information for their own workers.

IRS officials read every comment submitted to the Web site but do not keep any data
about visitors. Wallace said the visitors “are not interested in cookies. They like
the feeling of being anonymous.”

She and her 10-employee group will set up online compromise tax payment agreements on
the Web site during the next year. By answering a series of yes or no questions about
their financial status, taxpayers will find out whether they qualify for paying an overdue
tax bill monthly or whether the agency will accept a compromise offer.

The IRS also will publicize jobs online this year. Advertisements in major newspapers
cost as much as 50 times more than soliciting jobs online, Wallace said, and initial
samples indicate that online job postings bring in 10 times the responses.


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