The Internal Revenue Service announced that both its e-file and Free File programs are now accepting taxpayer returns.The agency is continuing its push to have taxpayers elect to file their returns electronically, boasting that users who e-file and choose direct deposit can receive their refund in half the normal time. All return information in protected through encryption and taxpayers will receive acknowledgement within 48 hours that the IRS has accepted the return.

Taxpayers may use IRS e-file through their tax preparer, over-the-counter software or Internet programs. While the IRS does not charge for e-filing, some preparers and software manufactures may charge a fee. Last year, more than 73 million tax returns, nearly 54 percent of all returns, were filed electronically.

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