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Jan. 17: E-filing is OK, Free File opens and estimated tax payments are due

Welcome to the first day busy tax day of filing season 2012.

Tax_time_clockToday the Internal Revenue Service starts accepting electronically filed returns. If you've already filled out your 2011 return via tax software on  your personal computer, you now can hit "Enter."

Or if your 2011 adjusted gross income was $57,000 or less, you now can head to the IRS website and use its Free File program to complete and e-file your taxes. Fifteen companies are participating this year. You can peruse the list or use the program's Help Me Find a Free File Company interactive tool.

Finally, don't forget that today also is the due date for the final estimated tax payment of 2011. You can e-file and e-pay that fourth quarter 1040ES voucher or get your check in the mail, but do one of those things sometime today.

You can, however, ignore today's estimated tax deadline if you make sure you get your completed 2011 Form 1040 filed by Jan. 31.

Have fun!

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Anything that streamlines tax problems and processes is fine by me. The environmentally concious will be delighted at the paper saving also!

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