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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 irs.gov/">www.irs.gov. 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 www.irs.gov/freefile 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 irs.gov or call toll-free at 800-829-1040.

Internal Revenue Service

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