Earlier this week we wrote about how because Congress took so long to act on the tax bill in December (the act was passed on December 17th), the IRS had to push back the filing start date for those that itemize. There would be a tax filing delay well into the month of February for all of us itemizers out there because the IRS needs more time to update their systems. Of course all the companies who help us to file our taxes like TurboTax will be updated long before the government is, and you can start your return there at any time. But of course that's no big suprise- that private business moves at a faster pace than government.
Tax Filing Deadline Extended
This week the IRS announced that there would be a tax filing deadline extension for everyone – and that the deadline would be pushed back from April 15th as it normally is, to April 18th.
The Internal Revenue Service today opened the 2011 tax filing season by announcing that taxpayers have until April 18 to file their tax returns. The IRS reminded taxpayers impacted by recent tax law changes that using e-file is the best way to ensure accurate tax returns and get faster refunds.
Taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file their 2010 tax returns and pay any tax due because Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Friday, April 15. By law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have three extra days to file this year. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their 2010 tax returns.
So the reason for the deadline extension isn't because of the delays in people being able to file, or because of the impact of the new tax bill, it's because there's a government holiday observed on that day – meaning it has to be pushed back. Ah, to be a government worker and get all those extra days off!
Tax Filing Delay – Who Must Wait To File?
As mentioned in the first paragraph above, there is going to be a delay in the start to tax filing season as well. As many as 50 million taxpayers itemize on their taxes, and would be affected by the delay. Of those 50 million usually only around 9 million usually file in January or February and would be affected by the delay.
For most taxpayers, the 2011 tax filing season starts on schedule. However, tax law changes enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama in December mean some people need to wait until mid- to late February to file their tax returns in order to give the IRS time to reprogram its processing systems.
Some taxpayers – including those who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A – will need to wait to file. This includes taxpayers impacted by any of three tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009 and were renewed by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act Of 2010 enacted Dec. 17. Those who need to wait to file include:
- Taxpayers Claiming Itemized Deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses as well as state and local taxes. In addition, itemized deductions include the state and local general sales tax deduction that was also extended and which primarily benefits people living in areas without state and local income taxes. Because of late Congressional action to enact tax law changes, anyone who itemizes and files a Schedule A will need to wait to file until mid- to late February.
- Taxpayers Claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction. This deduction for parents and students – covering up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid to a post-secondary institution – is claimed on Form 8917. However, the IRS emphasized that there will be no delays for millions of parents and students who claim other education credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit extended last month and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
- Taxpayers Claiming the Educator Expense Deduction. This deduction is for kindergarten through grade 12 educators with out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250. The educator expense deduction is claimed on Form 1040, Line 23 and Form 1040A, Line 16.
So basically the start to filing season is delayed so that the IRS can implement the extensions of several tax cuts, tax credits and other things that were to be expiring, and that have now been renewed.
Do What I Plan On Doing – File Your Taxes Now With TurboTax
While the government is still updating all of their software, many or most of the tax filing software are already up to date for the new tax law. While you won’t be able to file and get a refund until the IRS starts actually accepting returns, you can file your return with companies like TurboTax (who will allow you to file your return starting January 6th), and then just let them file the return for you when the government is ready to accept it.
don’t wait to start your return. TurboTax products are already up-to-date with all the latest forms and schedules. You can prepare your return with TurboTax and electronically file it beginning on Jan. 6.
TurboTax will securely hold your return until the IRS begins accepting returns impacted by the processing delays. TurboTax will send you an email confirmation that your return has been e-filed and accepted by the IRS.
TurboTax is the tax software I used last year to file my taxes, after having used several others in past years, including a good one from TaxSlayer.com. While TaxSlayer and other packages aren't bad, I found the TurboTax interface to be much easier to use, and less complicated to complete. I double checked my return with TaxSlayer and CompleteTax last year, and both of them gave me about the same number for my amount due as TurboTax. So based on TurboTax's better interface, I would recommend it first.
Check out all of your filing options at the TurboTax site!
Do you usually not file your taxes til the last minute? Will this extension be just what you needed in order to file on time? Are you expecting to be delayed in filing your taxes because you itemize? Tell us in the comments!