Editors' pick: Originally published Jan. 17.

The IRS starts accepting tax returns on Jan. 23, so you need to think about how you're actually going to prepare your return.

Sure, you can hire someone. And if your return is super complicated, then that may be a good idea.

But if your tax situation is relatively straightforward, there are so many ways to get it done on your own.

DIY is so fashionable these days. So empower yourself. 

And depending on your income level, it might not even cost you anything.

Free Is For Me!

The Internal Revenue Service's Free File program is up and running again. Since 2003, Uncle Sam has partnered with a bunch of online tax preparation companies, and together they offer free preparation and electronic filing (e-filing) to taxpayers whose 2016 adjusted gross income (AGI) was $64,000 or less.

Given that 49 million taxpayers have taken advantage of this freebie since it launched, maybe you should too.

There are 12 online tax companies involved, and most offer free preparation and e-filing for a federal and state return. The "free" part is based on income, age and/or state residency, so be sure to check out the individual requirements here.

If you make more than $64,000, then take advantage of the "battle of the tax prep sites."

Turbo Tax and H&R Block are tripping over themselves to compete. So they've amped up their offerings.

If your AGI is less than $100,000 in 2016, TurboTax's AbsoluteZero program will let you file a 1040EZ or 1040A plus a state form for free, as long as you don't itemize. 

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