Thanks to tax code changes like the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, the law that put an end to the fiscal cliff bickering and uncertainty around this year’s tax rates, the IRS is behind with their normal process of updating forms and testing computer programming. While the government is usually ready for taxpayers to start filing their returns in January, some taxpayers will need to wait until late February or early March.
For someone counting on a tax refund, a delay like this can be financially troubling. And while these delays will affect a small portion of taxpayers, I would expect that if you are reading this article about taxes, you have might a slightly higher chance of being in that group. While many of the tax credits pertain to small or large businesses, sole proprietors and even individuals are affected.
Here are just a few of the forms that still need to be updated and tested by the IRS before people who wish to take advantage of the related credits can submit tax returns.
Form 5884: Work Opportunity Credit. This is a credit available to employers that hire employees that fall into certain categories, like those on food stamps (SNAP) or those who have been unemployed.
Form 8396: Mortgage Interest Credit. This credit is not the home mortgage interest deduction. This is a credit offered to homeowners who paid interest on their primary homes and who have a qualified Mortgage Credit Certificate from their state or local government.
Form 8839: Qualified Adoption Expenses. For a family that paid expenses related to adoption, this credit can provide a reimbursement of up to $12,650 per child.
Form 8859: District of Columbia First-Time Homebuyer Credit. Like the popular 2008 first-time homebuyer tax credit, this credit existed for new homeowners in D.C. through 2011. For the 2012 tax year, home owners can claim any credit residual carried over from 2011.
Several credits related to energy efficiency and alternative energy. Taxpayers planning to take advantage of the credits available for biodiesel and renewable diesel fuels, the Energy Efficient Home Credit, the Energy Efficient Appliance Credit, and the Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit.
These delays shouldn’t prevent you from preparing your tax return, though. The delay is unfortunate, particularly if these credits will help you qualify for a refund rather than tax due. Depending on how you usually prepare your taxes, you can get started early and allow your return to be queued for immediate submission once the IRS opens the floodgates.
If like many other taxpayers you file online using software like TurboTax, TaxACT, or H&R Block, you can already input your information and calculate your taxes. The software will determine whether you can submit your return at the earliest date the IRS allows for taxpayers who aren’t affected by this delay, January 30. The online programs will hold onto your tax return until January 30 or the later date, and they will file your taxes automatically.
According to the Tax Institute at H&R Block, the delays will affect only 2 percent of all American taxpayers. Most of these credits are not that popular, unlike the Earned Income Tax Credit or the American Opportunity Tax Credit for education expenses. Visit the IRS website for the full list of forms that won’t be accepted until late February or early March.
When do you plan to file your federal income tax return this year? Are you filing using a service like TurboTax or H&R Block, or do you have an accountant handle this chore for you?