Some people feared that because the fiscal cliff debacle resulted in many year-end changes to the tax laws, the IRS would have to delay the start of the tax filing season to update its tax forms and return processing systems. There is good news and bad news on this front.
First, the good news is that the IRS has acted quickly and has completed the updating of most of its most popular forms. This means that the vast majority of tax filers--more than 120 million households--should be able to start filing tax returns for 2012 starting January 30, 2013. You can file on January 30 whether you file electronically (which the IRS prefers), or on paper. There is no advantage to filing any earlier than this--it won't speed up your refund.
The IRS will be able to accept tax returns affected by the late Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) patch as well as the three major “extender” provisions for people claiming the state and local sales tax deduction, higher education tuition and fees deduction, and educator expenses deduction.
However, the IRS estimates that remaining households won't be able to start filing until late February or into March because of the need for more extensive form and processing systems changes. This group includes people who need to file any of the following forms with their tax returns:
- Form 4562 (Depreciation and Amortization)
- Form 8582 (Passive Activity Loss Limitations)
- Form 5695 (Residential Energy Credits)
- Form 3800 (General Business Credit)
- Form 8908 (Energy Efficient Home Credit)
- Form 8909 (Energy Efficient Appliance Credit)
- Form 8396 (Mortgage Interest Credit)
Many small businesses file Form 4562; while many landlords file Forms 4562 and/or Form 8582. They'll have to wait until February or even March before they can file their returns.