E-file opens for 2012 tax season

The Internal Revenue Service opened the 2012 electronic tax return filing season Tuesday saying e-file is the best way to get fast refunds and ensure accurate tax returns.

E-filing can be free for everyone through the IRS Free File program at www.IRS.gov.

In Alabama, about 85 percent of all tax returns received by the IRS in 2011 were e-filed. More than 520,000 of returns that were e-filed were self-prepared by taxpayers using their own computers.

Nationwide, more than 112 million income tax returns were e-filed last year, or 77 percent of all individual returns filed. IRS e-file has surpassed the milestone of 1 billion returns processed.

"E-filing is fast, easy, and accurate, plus it's safe and secure," said IRS spokesman Dan Boone. "And through IRS Free File, taxpayers don't have to pay anything to prepare and e-file their returns."

Taxpayers can e-file their tax returns one of three ways: through a tax return preparer, through self-preparation software or through IRS Free File.

IRS Free File, which has been making taxes a little less taxing for a decade, also begins today, Jan. 17. Everyone can use Free File, either the brand-name software offered by IRS' commercial partners or the online fillable forms.

Individuals or families with 2011 adjusted gross incomes of $57,000 or less can use Free File software. Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms, has no income restrictions.

INFORMATION SOURCE: IRS's Birmingham office