WASHINGTON The Internal Revenue Service today opened the 2013 filing season by announcing a variety of enhanced products and services to help taxpayers prepare and file their tax returns by the April 15 deadline.

New and expanded services for taxpayers this year include a redesigned IRS.gov web site that's easier to navigate and improved service options, including more video-conferencing assistance sites and additional social media tools. In addition, the IRS has stepped up its enforcement efforts to protect taxpayers from refund fraud and identity theft.

The IRS began accepting and processing most individual tax returns today after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems to reflect the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) that Congress enacted on Jan. 2. The vast majority of taxpayers can file now, but the IRS is continuing to update its systems for some tax filers. The IRS will begin accepting tax returns from people claiming education credits in mid-February while taxpayers claiming depreciation deductions, energy credits and many business credits will be able to file in late February or early March. A full list http://links.govdelivery.com:80/track?type=click&enid=ZWFzPTEmbWFpbGluZ2... of the affected forms is available on IRS.gov.

This year, taxpayers have until Monday, April 15, to file their 2012 tax returns and pay any tax due. The IRS expects to receive more than 147 million individual tax returns this year, with about 75 percent projected to receive a refund.

Last year for the first time, 80 percent of all individual returns were filed electronically. E-file, when combined with direct deposit, is the fastest way to get a refund. Last year, about three out of four refund filers selected direct deposit.

Assistance Options, Virtual Service Availability

The best way for taxpayers to get answers to their questions is by visiting IRS.gov. Last year, the website received a record 340 million visits, a 17 percent increase over 2011.

This year, the redesigned website makes it easier than ever for taxpayers to get to key forms and vital information. The front page also has links to redesigned pages to help with everything from refunds to specific tax issues as well as easy access to taxpayer-friendly videos on the IRS YouTube channel.