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IRS taking electronic returns

Agency warns some filers should wait for computer updates

The 2011 tax filing season is under way. The Internal Revenue Service started accepting electronically filed tax returns Friday. Last year, nearly 99 million returns were submitted electronically – about 70 percent of the 142.4 million filed.

The IRS says there are several advantages to e-filing, including quick acknowledgement that a return has been received. If the agency rejects a return, the receipt will explain why and the taxpayer can resubmit.

Here are some guidelines for submitting your taxes electronically:

• Because of tax law changes approved by Congress in December, the IRS has warned that taxpayers who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A, along with those who want to claim state and local sales tax deductions or higher education tuition and fees deductions, must wait until mid- to late February to file their returns. The delay is needed to give the agency time to reset its own computers to account for the changes in the law. The IRS will announce the date it can start processing those returns when it is known.

• Online and stand-alone tax preparation software will submit a return directly to the IRS when the return is completed and the user signs off on its contents.

• If your income is $58,000 or less, you can get tax prep software for free through the IRS Free File program. Visit, where more than 20 software companies make their products available at no cost. • The companies that take part in the Free File program are also providing software this year to the IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program, or VITA, in 29 states. • Whatever your income, you can get electronic IRS forms from the agency’s website for free and submit them yourself at no cost.