Let's see … you've dragged out that box of
2012 receipts, dug through your kitchen junk drawer to find a
calculator that works, sharpened a few pencils and found that
really big eraser. So, you should be all ready to do your taxes,
Not quite yet.
Because of the January tax law changes made by Congress, you
have a little extra time before you send that return whizzing
through the Internet toward the IRS. The tax return filing season
will start January 30 for most taxpayers, according to the Internal
The extra time will be needed by the IRS to change their
computer systems to reflect the changes enacted by Congress in the
American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA). "We have worked hard to open
tax season as soon as possible," said IRS Acting Commissioner
Steven T. Miller. "This date ensures we have the time we need to
update and test our processing systems."
The vast majority of American taxpayers -- some 120 million
households -- will be able to file beginning Jan. 30. These
taxpayers with simple, straightforward returns. Those returns that
are a little more complicated -- say, with residential energy
credits, depreciation of property or general business credits --
will have to wait until late February or early March to file. Those
returns require more extensive forms, and so, require more
extensive computer programming changes by the IRS.
We agree with Acting Commissioner Miller. "The best option for
taxpayers is to file electronically," Miller said.
Yes, there are delays to e-filing this year. But if you think
you can do an end-run around that by filing a paper return and
in, Miller says that's a recipe for a late refund. Maybe a very
The IRS will not process paper tax returns at all before Jan.
30. Miller says there's no advantage to filing a paper return
before that date, and you'll get your refund much faster if you
e-file -- even with the Jan. 30 start date.
Our advice for individual taxpayers is to start work on your
return as usual. You can sign onto your account on our website and dive
right in. Take your time and make sure your information is correct,
that you have your supporting documents and your
figures are as accurate as they can be. Then, wait for the green
light to hit The Button to e-file.
If your return is affected by the Alternative Minimum Tax, or
AMT, you should be able to file beginning on Jan. 30. The same goes
if your return contains state and local sales tax deductions; the
higher education tuition and fees deduction; or the educator
But other forms will have to wait for the IRS to complete their
computer programming changes. So these forms will require the
return to be delayed until at least late February:
Here's the complete list of forms that will be accepted by the
IRS in late February or early March. The IRS will announce a date
later. If your return has one of these forms, it's best to hold it
until your filing date has been determined.
One last piece of advice: Understand that everyone is in the
same boat. The delays we've mentioned apply to every taxpayer --
and every income tax service -- in the country. There's no way to
magically appear at the head of the line.
But if we do our preparation now, we can get our returns in the
pipeline as soon as the open the gate. And we can put this worry