Tax season is upon us. But the good news is the IRS Free File program officially kicks off on Friday, January 16th, so all taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes under $60,000 have free access to a variety of federal tax preparation and e-filing software.

Now you don’t have to download a new version of Turbo Tax or call up the accountant, just head on over to the IRS website and take advantage of all the free tax help (including an easy to use online wizard) that’s available there.

IRS

More on IRS Free File program

Now available on irs.gov, the new Free File website offers various links to software designed to help you in preparing and filing the most commonly used IRS tax forms. The site also has an online tool to help you determine which software is the best fit for you and a guide for filing new forms required by the Affordable Care Act. Note that many of the programs also offer assistance in calculating and filing state taxes, but fees may apply in some cases.

The IRS will begin accepting electronically filed returns on January 20, but you may not be ready that soon. By law your employer has until the end of January to send your W-2 form, which spells out how much you earned and how much you had withheld in taxes.

Limited IRS assistance to taxpayers this year

The IRS has announced that due to budgetary constraints imposed by Congress, the agency will only be able to provide limited assistance to taxpayers this year. Tax experts are warning that it is likely to be difficult to reach IRS customer service reps this tax season, and refunds could be a bit delayed relative to the last couple of years.

Also keep in mind that electronic filing combined with direct deposit is the fastest way to get your refund.  The deadline for filing federal taxes is April 15.