Let the tax returns begin. The IRS officially kicked off the 2013 tax season, meaning most individual taxpayers can start filing their returns today, ahead of the Monday, April 15, filing deadline.
The IRS also announced new efforts to thwart fraud and connect with taxpayers.
Redesigned its IRS.gov website to make it easier to navigate and find information.
Beefed up identity-theft and refund fraud, including more than 3,000 staffers - double the number in 2011 - assigned to I.D. theft issues. The IRS also installed stronger computer filters that it says will help detect fraudulent tax returns.
Added more social media access to IRS information, including a new site on Tumblr. The IRS also updated its smartphone app (IRS2Go) and has more than 100 YouTube videos on tax topics such as refunds and tax credits.
While the majority of taxpayers can start filing today, those who file for certain tax credits and deductions must wait until mid-February or early March. Those include tax credits for education, residential energy and business deductions. The delay is due to last-minute tax changes enacted by Congress in early January that require the IRS to update its computer systems.
The IRS also reminds those who earn $51,000 or less that free tax preparation help is available at various schools, libraries and community centers, offered by the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program. To find the nearest VITA site, call (800) 906-9887 or visit the IRS website.
In 2012, the IRS said it issued 9 of 10 refunds within 21 days of filing and expects a similar rate this year. It also noted that last year 80 percent of all tax returns were filed electronically.
In Sacramento, the IRS office at 4330 Watt Ave. has tax forms, publications and a VITA center to help low-income taxpayers.