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Save time and money: Do your federal taxes for free

Taxes can be, well, taxing. But there’s a simple, easy way to do your federal taxes, and it’s all for free. It’s called Free File.

Free File does the hard work for you either through brand-name software or online fillable forms. And, it’s available only at IRS.gov.

Free File is offered through the Internal Revenue Service by 14 of the nation’s leading tax software manufacturers. Nearly 40 million people have used Free File and, using the most conservative estimate, they’ve saved $1.2 billion in fees.

Free File is available 24/7, giving you the freedom to decide when and how you want to do your federal taxes.

How to start saving

Here’s how to get started:

* Go to www.irs.gov/freefile.

* If your income was $58,000 or less in 2013, select the “Start Free File Now” button.

* Each of the 14 participating companies has a special offer.

* Review the company offers or use the “help me find Free File software” tool.

* Select the tax software that matches your situation.

* Leave IRS.gov and go to the company’s site to begin your taxes.

Free File software uses a familiar question-and-answer format. Go at your own pace. You can save your information and return to it. All the companies adhere to the highest security standards to ensure the safety of your tax information.

If your income was more than $58,000, you can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper forms. Just select the “Free File Fillable Forms” button at www.irs.gov/freefile. This version is best if you are comfortable preparing your own tax return with more limited help.

E-file and track your refund

Once you’ve finished your return, you can also print a copy and e-file your federal taxes, absolutely for free. With electronic filing, you will receive a confirmation within minutes that the IRS has accepted your return. Or, if it’s not accepted, you can easily find out why. E-file helps make your tax return even more accurate, which means a quicker refund.

To get your refund even faster, combine e-file with direct deposit. Nine out of 10 taxpayers get their refunds within 21 days. You can track your refund by using “Where’s My Refund?” on IRS.gov. It’s updated once daily. There’s even an IRS smartphone app, IRS2Go, that you can use to track your refund.

Self-help options on IRS.gov

Free File and “Where’s My Refund?” are just two of many self-help options available at IRS.gov. Have a tax law question? Visit the Interactive Tax Assistant, IRS Tax Map or Tax Trails sections of the website.

You also can find payment options and create an installment payment agreement online. You can even order a summary of a previous tax return.

File an extension with Free File

If you can’t meet the April 15 deadline, you can use either Free File software or online fillable forms to file an extension. Use Free File to complete and submit Form 4868. And then, return to Free File by Oct. 15, 2014, to file your return.

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