The popularity of filing tax returns online has risen in the past few years thanks to online programs that make it incredibly easy. Unfortunately, the IRS doesn’t let you file your taxes online directly, you have to go through third parties like H&R Block or Intuit to do so. My third part of choice over the past couple of years has been TaxAct.
The fees that we pay to file taxes online allow the IRS to do less manual work. It seems they should offer the service for free, but the government partners with software vendors who are willing to offer the service for profit, although some service do offer federal filing for free if your income is below a certain limit.
I-CAN! is a new service from a non-profit organization that offers free tax filing for everyone. Well, almost everyone:
You can generally use I-CAN!™ E-file unless you own a business, are a church employee or clergy member, sold real estate in 2007 or you or your employer have a non-US address. If you are in the military or you are disabled you may be eligible for tax credits that are not included in I-CAN!™ E-file.
I-CAN! is proud of the fact they don’t offer instant loans or cash based on anticipated refunds, like the bg guys. These are strong moneymakers, but are often viewed as a little unethical. The fee for these loans, when represented as an interest rate, border on predatory.
I would have liked to try I-CAN!’s software for comparison with the calculations presented by other software. I’ve read at least one complaint that I-CAN! has made significant errors in calculation; one commenter on Consumerist noted his 1099-MISC was not included when determining the final tax bill. Since I will require a Schedule C, I will unfortunately not qualify to use the I-CAN! software.
If you are able to use the software to file your taxes and would like to compare the results with those from other calculations or software, feel free to check back in and let us know.
Updated June 20, 2014 and originally published February 11, 2008.