I-CAN! E-File Returns Millions to Low-Income Americans


Washington, DC -- Tax-filing season is in full swing and a free website, developed with funding from the Legal Services Corporation, permits low-income workers to apply for the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC).

The free electronic filing system, called I-CAN! E-File, was created by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County with funding provided by the Technology Initiative Grants (TIG) program at LSC. It launched in 2003.

With slightly more than a month to go before the April 15 deadline for filing tax returns, EITC refunds and tax credits processed by I-CAN! E-File had topped the $100 million mark as of March 1. During last year's tax-filing season, the Legal Aid Society reported returning about $102 million in tax refunds, EITC and other credits to low-income workers in 45 states.

"This e-file system shows how an innovative technology project can make a positive impact on the lives of low-income workers and their families, especially at a time when millions of Americans have lost jobs or have had their wages reduced following the 2008 recession," said Robert J. Cohen, executive director of the Orange County program in California.

LSC President Victor M. Fortuno said the e-file system "demonstrates the importance of leveraging our resources to better serve low-income communities. In addition to making it easier to claim the EITC, the technology grants awarded by LSC also help low-income Americans in other ways, such as expanding client intake systems and increasing assistance to unrepresented litigants."

EITC is a refundable federal income tax credit for low- to moderate-income working individuals and families that Congress designed to encourage work as well as offset payroll and income taxes. When the EITC exceeds a low-wage worker's income tax liability, the Internal Revenue Service will refund the balance. To qualify, taxpayers must meet certain requirements and file a tax return, even if they did not earn enough money to be obligated to file a return.

I-CAN! E-File takes its name from the Interactive Community Assistance Network, a self-help automated system developed by the Legal Aid Society of Orange County to provide low-income individuals and families with access to legal forms and legal information. I-CAN! E-File permits taxpayers to determine if they qualify for the EITC and then file their federal tax returns online or print out their tax forms and mail them to the IRS.

To use the I-CAN! system, go to http://www.icanefile.org.

Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is an independent nonprofit established by Congress in 1974. For 50 years, LSC has provided financial support for civil legal aid to low-income Americans. The Corporation currently provides funding to 131 independent nonprofit legal aid programs in every state, the District of Columbia, and U.S. territories.