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You can officially start filing taxes now – here's what you need to know

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It's the return of everyone's favorite time of the year – tax filing season! (In case you didn't know, I was being sarcastic).

Yes, starting Tuesday, taxpayers will have just under three months to file their individual income tax returns to the Minnesota Department of Revenue and the Inland Revenue Service before the April 18 deadline.

The IRS says it expects more than 150 million tax returns to be filed this year, and more of 70 percent of these will result in tax refunds (so a person getting money back).

Here's what you need to know about filing this year:

The deadline

The deadline is a few days later than the usual April 15, mainly because the Emancipation Day holiday in Washington D.C. falls on that date – it's been extended to Monday, April 18 this year.

TurboTax says you can file for a six-month extension, though you must still pay any additional taxes you owe by April 18 even if you do, in order to avoid late payment penalties and interest.

You can file for an extension using Form 4868, which you can print off here.

To file, you'll need a W-2 from your employer – but because those don't have to be sent out until Jan. 31, not everyone will have them yet (so don't worry).

Here's a look at when you're required to file a return based on income:

Where and how to file

The IRS said four out of five people will file their tax returns electronically, while the Minnesota Department of Revenue said it received more than 2 million electronic returns last year.

The department has a list of companies you can use to file your returns electronically – such as TurboTax and H&R Block – which you can find here.

The IRS has information on how to e-file here, as well as a list of certified tax professionals who can e-file returns on your behalf, which you can search for by ZIP code here.

To file on paper, you need to complete your federal return before filling out the state return. Here are the IRS' main instructions to filing individual returns, and here's a link to the page with information on the different variations of Form 1040 – the main form you'll need to fill out.

If you're filing on paper, you'll need to send your federal forms to the addresses on this page – the correct address will depend on which forms you've filled out and if you're sending in a payment.

State forms need to be sent to:

Minnesota Individual Income Tax
Mail Station 0010
St. Paul, MN, 55145-0010.

How about free filing?

A few of the online services offer free electronic filing for people who qualify. The IRS' "Free File" providers are available to those with an income of less than $62,000,

Here’s the IRS’ list, and here is Minnesota’s list of free file providers.

You can also get free help at a number of locations in Minnesota if one of the following is true: you’re 60 years old or above, made less than $54,000, are disabled, or speak little to no English.

Click here for the site that helps you find a free help location.

Healthcare reminders

The IRS has some tips to help people navigate their tax return when it comes to health insurance:

  • If each member of your family had qualifying coverage for the whole year – you just need to check a box on your tax return.
  • If you or a family member did not have coverage for the whole year, you can check to see if there are coverage exemptions that are available.
  • If you enrolled in coverage through a health exchange (like MNSure), you will be receiving form 1095-A from them you will need to accurately file your return, and you should wait to receive it before you file.
  • Those who got their insurance either through work or directly from an insurer will be getting forms 1095-B or 1095-C from them. You don't need to wait for these before you file, you can use other information to prove you were covered.
  • More information on health insurance and tax returns can be found here.

Where's my refund?

You can track the status of your refund after you've filed your federal forms here.

And your Minnesota forms here.

The IRS also has an app you can download that enables you to track the status on your cellphone. More information here.

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