tax news — November 23, 2012

Your Parts Are on Order …

by Bob Williams

Most of us have been in this situation at one time or another: We've ordered parts for our car, and we show up at the garage ready to get the work started. We're ready and the car's ready. Only problem, all the parts aren't in yet. If you're lucky, the mechanics can begin work with the parts they did get.

Well, the same thing is happening with your taxes this year.

The "parts" in this case, are some of the forms you may use to build your federal tax return. Here's the story: Since this was a presidential election year, Congress was unwilling to make the budgetary and tax code decisions for 2013 -- until after the election. A host of tax provisions -- many of them passed during the Bush Administration -- are set to expire at the end of this year unless Congress extends them. And with some pretty important economic decisions on the line this time around, determining just which tax breaks stick around for another year may not be easy.

As far as your tax return is concerned, some of the credits -- such as the one you got for that new energy efficient furnace you bought last year -- may not be extended into 2013. But then again, they might. We just don't know. In fact, nobody knows. It's a 50-50 bet that any one of these credits or deductions will be renewed. So we have to play it safe.

Right now, you can't log into our site while we get ready for tax filing season. If the tax code situation doesn't change in Congress before filing starts in January, here's what you'll see: In some cases, whole forms have been disabled on our website because their entire content deals with one of the expiring credits. As it stands now, 14 forms are not available until the issues are resolved. Here's a list of the forms we've taken "off the table," so you can see if your return might be impacted:

Form 8874 - New Markets Credit 
Form 5884 - Work Opportunity Credit                           
Form 4136 - Credit for Federal Tax Paid on Fuels
Form 4136 - Credit for Federal Tax Paid on Fuels - Part 2
Form 8908 - Energy Efficient Home Credit           
Form 6468 - Credit for Alcohol Used as a Fuel
Form 8909 - Energy Efficient Appliance Credit   
Form 8845 - Indian Employment Credit
Form 3468 - Investment Credit Form
Form 8835 - Renewable Electricity & Refined Coal Production Credit
Form 8864 - Biodiesel Fuels Credit                          
Form 6765 - Credit for Increasing Research Activities
Form 8844 - Empowerment Zone Credit
State & Local General Sales Tax Deduction Worksheet

So, if you click on one of these forms now, here's what you'll see:

disabled form

Keep in mind that all the other forms on our site are fully functional. So, if you don't need one of the expiring credit forms, you'll sail right through the tax preparation process like you always do. We'll also let you know when these credit forms become available -- just as soon as we hear something from the IRS.

Some of the credits up for renewal take up just a field or two on forms. In that case, we've disabled just that affected box, so that it can't be used until we get the go-ahead. As of now, there are 11 forms with one or more disabled fields. Those forms are available and fully functional. They'll look like the grayed-out box below:

disabled field

All this is most likely to impact you early birds, who love to jump on your tax return right out of the gate in the new year. We haven't heard a timetable for Congress to address these issues, but everyone -- including the lawmakers -- knows that a LOT of people are watching and waiting.

Our best advice at this point is to be patient if you need one of the affected forms, and to be timely if you don't. Remember that the IRS is likely to be tied up with late filers in this scenario, so if your return isn't impacted by any of these credits, it's best to get your return in early for speedy transmission of any refund.

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