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<p>(BPT) - More than 43.6 million Americans prepared and e-filed their own income tax returns in 2013, up 4 percent from the year before, according to the IRS. In addition to being more affordable than a storefront or accountant, online and mobile solutions have made doing your own taxes exceptionally easy and fast.</p><p>&ldquo;Consumers now have everything for filing their own tax returns right at their fingertips,&rdquo; says TaxACT spokesperson Jessi Dolmage.</p><p>The programs ask simple questions, covering tax law changes and maximizing your credits and deductions. After e-filing, you can be notified when your return is accepted by the IRS, and solutions like TaxACT help you check the status of your federal refund.</p><p>The process is already easy and fast when doing your taxes online or with a mobile app, but to make it even more of a cinch, follow these tips:<br><br>1. Gather and organize your tax documents beforehand, including a copy of last year&rsquo;s return.</p><p>2. Don&rsquo;t wait until the last minute. Rushing often leads to errors.</p><p>3. Do an apples-to-apples comparison of do-it-yourself tax solutions. Some require you to upgrade if your return requires additional tax forms. You can avoid the gimmicks with TaxACT Free Federal since it includes all e-fileable forms for simple and complicated returns.</p><p>4. The Affordable Care Act will have little to no impact on most Americans&rsquo; taxes this year, but you may need to report information about your health care costs on your return. The amount you and your employer contribute to your employer-sponsored health coverage will be on your Form W-2 in Box 12, with Code DD. Although you must report the amount on your return, it does not impact the amount of tax you might owe. It&rsquo;s there simply to help you compare costs of coverage. Just enter the amount when prompted by your tax solution.</p><p>5. E-file your return and choose direct deposit for the fastest possible refund. Unlike paper returns, e-filing allows you to know when your return has been processed by the IRS.</p><p>6. Your tax program is like having an accountant at your side. The interview walks you through all the tax law changes, credits and deductions, but here&rsquo;s a peek at a few of the key tax breaks available on returns due April 15, 2014:</p><p>* American Opportunity&nbsp;Credit&nbsp;&ndash;&nbsp;This is worth up to $2,500 per student for the first four years of college costs&nbsp;in a degree or certificate program.&nbsp;Costs may include&nbsp;tuition, fees and books. You also may be eligible to receive&nbsp;up to&nbsp;40 percent ($1,000)&nbsp;as a refund.&nbsp;</p><p>* Tuition&nbsp;and fees&nbsp;deduction &ndash;&nbsp;If you, your spouse or your dependent are&nbsp;enrolled in college, you may be able to deduct tuition, even if you don't itemize&nbsp;deductions. You generally take this&nbsp;deduction if you don't qualify for an education credit or other tax break for the same expenses.</p><p>* Educator expenses deduction&nbsp;-&nbsp;Elementary and secondary&nbsp;educators can deduct&nbsp;up to&nbsp;$250 in related job expenses for books, supplies, computer&nbsp;equipment, other equipment and supplementary materials used in the classroom. Unlike most employee expenses, educator expenses are not reduced by 2 percent of your adjusted gross income.&nbsp;</p><p>* Child and&nbsp;Dependent Care Credit&nbsp;-&nbsp;The maximum amount for the credit&nbsp;is now $3,000&nbsp;if you have&nbsp;one&nbsp;child&nbsp;or $6,000&nbsp;if you have&nbsp;two or more children.&nbsp; The children or dependents&nbsp;must be younger than 13 and childcare must be needed because parents&nbsp;work&nbsp;or attend school.</p><p>* Child Tax&nbsp;Credit -The now permanent credit is $1,000 per child&nbsp;younger than 17. This credit may be claimed in addition to the Child and Dependent Care Credit.&nbsp;</p><p>* Adoption&nbsp;credit&nbsp;-&nbsp;If you adopted in 2013,&nbsp;you&nbsp;may qualify for a credit up to&nbsp;$12,970&nbsp;of your adoption expenses,&nbsp;including&nbsp;fees, court costs, attorney fees, traveling expense&nbsp;and other expenses&nbsp;directly related to and for the principal purpose of adopting an eligible child.&nbsp;If your employer provides adoption benefits, you may also be able to exclude up to the same amount from your income. Both a credit and exclusion may be claimed for the same adoption, but not for the same expense.</p><p>* Deduction for mortgage insurance premiums&nbsp;-&nbsp;Also known as private mortgage insurance (PMI), you&nbsp;may be&nbsp;able to deduct&nbsp;mortgage insurance premiums&nbsp;as mortgage interest.</p><p>* State and local sales tax deduction&nbsp;-&nbsp;For 2013, you can still deduct&nbsp;state and local sales taxes. You can take this deduction or a deduction for state income tax &ndash; but not both.</p><p>Learn more about these tax benefits at&nbsp;<a href="" rel="nofollow"></a> and <a href="" rel="nofollow"></a>. File your federal taxes free with TaxACT Free Edition at</p> <img src='' border='0' width='1' height='1' />

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