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The IRS will open the 2013 filing season and begin processing individual income tax returns on January 30, 2013, the agency has announced. However, some taxpayers will not be able to file their returns until late February or early March because the IRS needs more time to adjust its processing systems to reflect passage of year-end 2012 tax legislation. Included in this group are taxpayers filing Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization, Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits, and Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses.
"The IRS was very proactive in gearing up for late legislation," says Cindy Hockenberry, manager, Tax Knowledge Center, National Association of Tax Professionals. In recent years, delayed starts to the beginning of the filing season have become almost routine events because of the passage of year-end tax legislation, Hockenberry notes. Previously, the IRS had predicted the 2013 filing season would begin on January 22.
"Late legislation compresses what is already a short filing season even more," says Bill Lazor, past president of the Pennsylvania Institute of Certified Public Accountants. The impact is especially felt by individuals who file early in anticipation of a refund, Lazor adds.
In 2012, the IRS warned that late legislation would likely delay the start of the 2013 filing season. Congress passed the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) on January 1, 2013 and President Obama signed the bill into law the next day. Among its many changes, ATRA patched the alternative minimum tax (AMT) for 2012 and subsequent years, and extended a host of temporary individual and business incentives (known as tax extenders), many of which had expired after 2011.
Acting IRS Commissioner Steven Miller told Congress in December 2012 that the agency was leaving its core processing systems unchanged in the expectation that Congress would patch the AMT for 2012.
The IRS will begin accepting individual returns on January 30, 2013. The agency reported that it is updating its forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems. This activity will reflect the bulk of the late tax law changes enacted by ATRA, the agency explained. Included in this group are returns affected by ATRA’s AMT patch. The IRS will also accept returns claiming three very popular extenders: the state and local sales tax deduction, higher education deduction, and the teachers’ classroom expense deduction.
Updated forms and Instructions are posted on the IRS website. These include Instructions for Form 6251, Alternative Minimum Tax — Individuals, and Form 1040, Schedule A, which reflects the option to deduct state and local sales taxes.
Filing a paper return will not speed-up the process, the IRS cautioned, emphasizing that it will not process paper returns before January 30, 2013. The agency encouraged taxpayers to file their returns electronically.
The IRS further reported that some taxpayers may not be able to file on January 30 because of the need for more extensive form and processing systems changes. Among the taxpayers affected are individuals claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property, or general business credits.
The agency has posted a list of forms that will be accepted in late February or into March after the agency updates the forms and completes programming and testing of its processing systems. A specific date will be announced in the near future, the agency says.
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