By Kathi Bliss
Political wrangling on Capitol Hill to keep the nation away from the “fiscal cliff” have caused delays in the opening of the 2013 tax season, according to information released recently by the Internal Revenue Service.
In an effort to ensure that processing systems are in place that reflect tax law changes brought about by the recent American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has put off the opening of “tax season” until Jan. 30, 2013. On that date, the IRS will begin accepting and processing tax returns for those individuals and families filing 1040 forms for their tax returns.
The IRS estimates that the bulk of filers, more than 120 million households, should be able to begin filing tax returns next week.
There is no advantage, they said, of filing returns prior to Jan. 30, because returns will not be reviewed prior to Jan. 30.
“We have worked hard to open tax season as soon as possible,” IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller said. “This date ensures we have the time we need to update and test our processing systems.”
Miller also said that most taxpayers would receive any tax refunds more quickly if they opted to file electronically, rather than filing a paper return.
The opening of the filing season follows passage by Congress of an extensive set of tax changes in ATRA on Jan. 1, 2013, with many affecting tax returns for 2012. While the IRS worked to anticipate the late tax law changes as much as possible, the final law required that the IRS update forms and instructions as well as make critical processing system adjustments before it can begin accepting tax returns.
Although most taxpayers should be able to begin filing next week, some taxpayers, including those who intend to claim residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits will not be able to file until later.
Typically, Miller said, those taxpayers usually file closer to the April 15 deadline, anyway. However, he said, those who want to get a jump on the “Tax Day” deadline should be able to begin filing in late February or early March.
This year, the IRS will not be offering a chart that reflects when refunds will be processed. In prior years, tables have been available, matching the date a return is processed with the date a refund should be processed. Instead, the IRS says that most refunds will be processed within 10 days of a return being approved by the IRS, with a maximum wait time of 21 days.
That process is sped up, Miller reiterated, when taxpayers use electronic filing and receive their returns via direct deposit, instead of requesting a paper check.
Because of the Jan. 2 passage of the ATRA, Miller said, there is still a possibility that these time frames will change. However, he expressed confidence that IRS software and systems have been updated to reflect the tax changes, and the processing systems are operating correctly.
For the most up-to-date information on tax law changes and other guides to the 2013 tax season, visit www.irs.gov.