I-Can! E-File Not Quite Ready For Primetime

Last week we wrote about I-Can! E-File, a free electronic filing service for your federal income taxes. It’s a great idea, and we’re thankful to the Legal Aid Society of Orange County for doing something like this—but you might want to find an alternative this year and give them some time to work out the kinks. Today a reader emailed us to point out that icanefile.org’s password system can be easily cracked, because instead of letting you choose an original password, it requires you to use your name and social security number to set up an account.

I went ahead and used their site to file without much trouble (my taxes are pretty easy) but I noticed a very serious security issue with the site.

To log into the site and access your account information, you just need to provide your name and social security number. Your account is not protected by a password of your own choosing. Unfortunately, this isn’t readily apparent until you’ve created an account. Anyone who knows your name and soc sec can pretty much find out everything else there is to know about you if you use this site to do your taxes.

While I appreciate the free e-filing, I would like my personal information to have just a little more security.

In addition, Consumerist Commenter Bah discovered a bug in their software that messed up his return, which could have led to him filing an incorrect return if he hadn’t caught it:

I entered everything into I-Can and got a big refund… which, sadly, doesn’t sound right. I double-checked in TurboTax and, sure enough, I owe a little bit. I used I-Can’s online chat support to find out what went wrong, and they were entirely unhelpful. Basically, the line in the summary for my total income (which he told me was my total taxable income) would, according to the IRS tax tables, be a lot more than my withholding, meaning no refund for me.

follow-up: according to their Email tech support (which I had already discovered on my own), their software just didn’t input my 1099-MISC onto the actual document. So BEWARE — read very carefully through the actual forms it generates before free-filing.

“I-CAN! Files Your State And Federal Tax Returns For Free”
(Photo: paolo margari)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Moosehawk says:

    What happened to tax cat?

  2. Bizdady says:

    YAY for exposed personal information!

  3. Andrew says:

    I used it. It worked fine for me. As for the security issues, that definitely needs to be addressed. For the time being, though, just don’t tell potential thieves where you filed your return.

    As an aside, anyone who wants my identity is welcome to it. Really, go nuts.

  4. Dancing Milkcarton says:

    Didn’t the Fed Gov want e-filing to be free in the next few years to increase participation and reduce costs? What’s happening with that? Even if you buy TurboTax it costs something like ~$10-20 to file state and fed taxes.

  5. wezelboy says:

    @bitfactory: Turbo Tax is free if you don’t make any money.

  6. scoobydoo says:

    After using TurboTax this weekend I have absolutely no problem paying $20 for their service. It was as painless as possible and I was done in under 30 minutes.

  7. backbroken says:

    So the software sounds as reliable as your local H&R block office. Better yet, it sounds more reliable than calling the IRS directly.

  8. gniterobot says:

    Thanks Consumerist. Why bother waiting to see if a website works before recommending it? Let the readers figure out it sucks for themselves…

    This site is becoming more and more worthless by the day.

  9. Dustbunny says:


    Tax kitteh wanted a cheezburger, not a stack of tax returns. Do not want. Pleh!

  10. Transient says:

    @gniterobot: And yet you keep reading. Rubbernecking or just masochistic?

  11. Skiffer says:

    Gee…imagine that…

    A free service isn’t up to par with pay services…

    Hello capitalism…

  12. Nytmare says:

    @Skiffer: Guess what. PAY services aren’t up to par either.

    Or should I say pay… services… aren’t… up… to… par… either…

  13. witeowl says:

    FWIW, I found this IRS page this weekend. It pointed me to H&R Block’s otherwise etremely-well-hidden free e-file service, as well as many, many others. I don’t qualify for Turbo Tax’s free filing (I make too much), but do qualify for H&R Block’s free filing.

  14. Scuba Steve says:

    I had to pay 36 dollars to file for state and federal.. stupid turbo tax.

  15. Hanke says:

    I did my sister’s taxes on the site, but efiling failed because it says her birthday does not match the IRS records. There’s no info on how to fix this problem, other than changing the birthday on the site. Problem is, my entry is correct, and the IRS is wrong. Now what?

  16. amorde says:

    Bsically, IRS made the devil’s bargain when they enter the agreement with the electronic tax preparation services. IRS agreed not enter the electronic tax market or create their own software to accept personal electronic tax returns. In return, the Free File service was created. The IRS FreeFile service is intended to make e-filing free for majority of the users. However, if you check the E-file eligibility rules. Almost no one can qualify without paying some kind of stupid fee (eg. E-file fee). I wish IRS would just come out with an electronic form that I can submit myself. I don’t know services like TurboTax to check my math, I already double check anyway. Paying tax is tough enough, I don’t feel like paying for the privilege of paying my taxes.

  17. WV.Hillbilly says:

    There’s absolutely no reason why the IRS can’t make a PDF form standard for e-filing.
    Every tax prep package will generate one.

    I won’t pay anyone to e-file for me. I’ll snail mail it for 41 cents.