For most tax filers, filing a return is a mere click away!  That’s because individuals and families can file simple tax returns online at I-CAN E-File (www.icanefile.org), a website that allows you to fill out and submit a tax return all via the internet.  As long as you have access to a computer and a secure internet connection, you can use I-CAN E-File to do your taxes by yourself without the cost of using a paid preparer.

Free tax preparation is also available to low-income earners at Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) sites, where IRS-certified tax preparers help filers to complete their returns.  To see if you qualify for assistance at a VITA site and to view a complete listing of VITA sites in Michigan, visit http://www.michiganeic.org/freetaxprep.

The Michigan Credit Union League provides a good resource to tax filers looking to file returns on their own with its Just File It! We’ll Help. Free State and Federal Tax Preparation Provided by Credit Unions, a web-based program that allows families and individuals to file for state and federal tax credits that often go overlooked.  Access the program at http://www.justfileithere.org/index.php.

Through resources like I-CAN E-File and VITA sites, most tax filers can save by not having to go to a paid preparer.

To get tax refunds faster, filers should sign up for direct deposit of their refunds.  The IRS will deposit tax refunds into a filer’s bank account and filers can divide their funds into multiple checking or savings accounts.  Filers can also purchase U.S. Savings Bonds with all or a portion of their refund.  The fast turn-around of IRS refunds (especially through direct deposit) makes the use of Refund Anticipation Loans (RALs) largely unnecessary.  (The turn-around for direct deposit refunds is 8-12 days).  Waiting a short period for a refund instead of using a RAL saves filers because of the exorbitant fees and interest rates associated with RALs.   To find out more about direct deposit for tax refunds, visit http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/article/0,,id=105957,00.html.

Tax season can be cheaper and easier for people filing simple returns through the useful resources available to help people file for free.  Please contact Megan Kursik at the Michigan Asset Building Policy Project at kursik@cedamichigan.org if you have questions about how to make use of these tax preparation resources.

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