Just three weeks after the launch of its e-tax season, e-finance leader Intuit Inc. (NASDAQ: INTU) reported a marked increase in the demand for its philanthropic initiative, the Quicken® Tax Freedom Project. The initiative donates online tax preparation and filing to eligible lower income individuals.
The company today announced that more than 20,000 federal returns have been filed online through this free program between Jan. 15 and Feb. 7, 2000, an increase of more than 100% over the comparable period last year.
The Quicken Tax Freedom Project provides online tax preparation and electronic filing free of charge to all taxpayers filing Form 1040EZ, as well as to individuals and families with annual adjusted gross incomes of $20,000 or less. The free program applies to the preparation and filing of both state and federal individual income tax returns. According to the most recent statistics from the Internal Revenue Service, approximately 55 million Americans will be eligible for the Quicken Tax Freedom Project during the 1999 tax year.
"We're delighted with the early success of our efforts to continue to bridge the 'digital divide' and deliver the benefits of the Internet to the people who need it most - people with lower incomes or just starting their careers, students and the elderly," said Scott Cook, Intuit founder and chairman of the executive committee.
Cook attributed the increase in online filing through Quicken Tax Freedom in part to the explosion of programs offering Americans low-cost or free PCs, as well as an increase in Internet access at public locations. The American Library Association reports that nearly 75% of public libraries now offer their patrons free Internet access. Many individuals also can obtain free Internet access at local community centers or on college campuses across the nation.
"The Quicken Tax Freedom Project demonstrates how public/private partnerships can provide vital services to American taxpayers," said West Virginia Gov. Cecil H. Underwood, who today kicked off Quicken Tax Freedom as part of a comprehensive and innovative Taxpayer's Assistance Program, sponsored by the State of West Virginia. "With the growing acceptance of the Internet, combined with increased accessibility through a variety of public locations, the convenience of preparing and filing taxes electronically is a viable and attractive option for more and more Americans."
Free Program Provides Faster Refunds, More Accurate Returns
According to the IRS, taxpayers who file their returns electronically usually receive their refunds up to two times faster than those who file by mail. In fact, when using direct deposit, taxpayers will receive any refund due within as little as seven business days. In addition, taxpayers using the Quicken Tax Freedom Project program can automatically identify the deductions for which they are qualified - while also reducing arithmetic and other errors. Electronically prepared and filed returns have a significantly lower error rate than manually prepared returns.
"Using the Internet to prepare and file taxes is incredibly fast and easy, cutting tax preparation time and hassle for virtually for any taxpayer," said Cook. "In addition, taxpayers benefit from more accurate returns - and they generally receive any refund due twice as fast as if they had filed by mail."
Free Service Is Simple and Easy to Use
Intuit is offering online tax preparation and electronic filing services at no charge to eligible families and individuals through Quicken® TurboTax® for the Websm and TurboTax EZsm, personal tax preparation products that enable taxpayers to prepare and file their tax returns via the Internet quickly and securely. Quicken® TurboTax® for the Websm and TurboTax EZsm are easy to use and require no special tax expertise. Using a simple interview method, they ask the user for relevant information and automatically calculate and then file the tax return.
Because Quicken TurboTax for the Web and TurboTax EZ are Web-based products -- meaning they are not downloaded or stored on an individual's computer -- consumers can use them from any computer with Internet access. Users simply create a user name and password, which allows them to access their return from any computer. Intuit deployed the latest in Secure Socket Layer (SSL) encryption technology to ensure that tax filers' returns remain private and secure during transmission.
Taxpayers can access the Quicken Tax Freedom Project at www.quicken.com/freedom from any Web-enabled computer with Internet Explorer 4.0 or higher, Netscape Navigator 4.06 or higher (except Netscape 4.6) or AOL 4.0 or higher. Program eligibility is determined when users' enter their actual tax information into TurboTax for the Web. Quicken Tax Freedom Project services are available through Oct. 16, 2000.