3 Ways to E-File Your Taxes

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- Filing taxes online is easier today than ever.

Believe it or not, approximately 100 million people electronically file their tax returns every year -- and this number is growing. Rather than opt for paper and pen the next time around, consider filing online. (You can start filing your return online now at 1040.com .) Doing this can increase your efficiency, and you may find it easier to take full advantage of all tax credits and tax deductions.

Here are three ways you can take advantage of e-filing.

Tax software

No matter how simple or complex your federal return, you can use tax preparation software to file online. If you are willing to spend a few extra dollars, you can get an application that offers features such as audit protection and email assistance. These programs may also enable you to file your state taxes online.

Tax professional

A growing number of tax professionals are opting for electronic filing on behalf of their clients. Ask the tax professional if they file taxes online or by paper mail before you schedule an appointment.

The IRS Free File program

For those with an adjusted gross income of $57,000 or less, the IRS offers free online tax preparation and free e-filing. Those who qualify can also get help with the preparation of their return. What if you earn more than $57,000? The IRS will still take care of you with their "Free File Fillable Forms." With these there are no income limitations or other restrictions, but you have to fill them out yourself (as opposed to relying on the computer program for help).

Most people discover that filing online is much easier and faster than conventional paper filing. But before you get started, consider the pros and cons of the IRS system and other tax software. In the end, make sure you are comfortable with the system you choose and the steps you will have to take to file your taxes online.