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Originally published Saturday, January 8, 2011 at 10:00 PM

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Tax tip: It's time to get started; here's a few things you can do

It's that time of the year again; the income-tax-filing season has begun and important tax documents should be arriving in the mail.

Here are some tips that can help the tax-filing process run smoother.

Start gathering your records: Round up documents or forms you'll need when filing your taxes, such as receipts, canceled checks and other documents that support income or deductions you're claiming. Your W-2s and 1099s will be coming soon; you'll need these to file your return.

Use Free File: Free File offers the use of brand-name tax software or online fillable forms (depending on your income level) at"> If you made $58,000 or less, you qualify for free tax software that is offered through a private-public partnership with manufacturers. If you made more or are comfortable preparing your own tax return, there's Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic versions of IRS paper forms. Visit to review your options.

Try IRS e-file: Last year, 70 percent of taxpayers — 99 million people — used IRS e-file. Starting in 2011, many tax preparers will be required to use e-file and will explain your filing options to you. Combine e-file with direct deposit and you get your refund in as few as 10 days.

Consider other options: There are many options for filing your tax return.You can prepare it yourself or go to a tax preparer.You may be eligible for free face-to-face help at an IRS office or volunteer site. Remember 17: Check out IRS Publication 17, "Your Federal Income Tax" on the IRS website. It's a comprehensive collection of filing information for taxpayers.

For more help, contact the IRS at or call toll-free at 800-829-1040.

Internal Revenue Service

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