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Internet sites offer e-filing at no charge for eligible

If you don t have money for a postage stamp, free electronic tax filing is available this season for certain taxpayers.

It starts with the Internal Revenue Service Web site, www.irs.gov. The only caveat is you may still have to pay for filing your state tax return, said agency spokesman Eric Erickson. But federal filing is free for those eligible.

The free electronic filing at the Web site is limited to those with an adjusted gross income of $56,000 or less in 2008.

The IRS site will connect taxpayers with any of 20 different free tax computer software sites part of a government and software industry initiative known as the Free File Alliance including the most popular programs like TurboTax, TaxCut, TaxACT, and TaxSlayer.com. There are versions in Spanish.

Taxpayers are free to choose any of the 20 sites. However, not all of the sites support every IRS form. The IRS site automatically can choose a free software site for a taxpayer based on the forms the taxpayer requires.

Once connected to a site, a tax program will ask questions, complete the tax forms, and then e-file the tax return to the IRS, which will confirm that it received the return within 48 hours.

For those who do want to use a tax software program, another option allows tax filers access to specific IRS federal tax forms. A taxpayer can fill in the correct information and numbers, perform basic math calculations, and then e-file the form to the IRS.

The IRS recommends that only those comfortable with the tax code should choose the tax forms option.

In addition to free filing, the IRS has set up a link to a Web page so that taxpayers can make payments if they owe money. The electronic payments can be made with a credit or debit card.

Jon Chavez

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