Published Friday, January 11, 2013
By W. WINSTON SKINNER
The Internal Revenue Service will not start processing incoming tax returns until Jan. 30 this year.
"Your return will not be accepted for processing until Jan. 30 – at the soonest," said James McCalla of Newnan Tax and Accounting. The later start date will likely mean most people getting a refund will not get it as early in the year.
McCalla said the situation presents challenges for people who depend on their tax refund to make ends meet or who have been planning "to purchase a new vehicle, make a major purchase or use it to pay off bills."
Mark S. Green, media relations specialist with the IRS in Atlanta, said the Jan. 30 date was set following January tax law changes made by Congress under the American Taxpayer Relief Act.
Green said the IRS "plans to open the 2013 filing season and begin processing individual income tax returns on Jan. 30."
The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on that date after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems. The system will the be prepared to process returns incorporating the bulk of the late tax law changes enacted Jan. 2.
Green said the vast majority of tax filers – more than 120 million households – should be able to start filing tax returns starting Jan 30.
The IRS estimates that remaining households will be able to start filing in late February or into March because of the need for more extensive form and processing systems changes. This group includes people claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits. Most of those in that group file more complex tax returns and typically file closer to the April 15 deadline or obtain an extension.
“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.”
People can mail paper returns before Jan. 30, but they will not be processed before that date. "There is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date, and taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit," Green said.
“The best option for taxpayers is to file electronically,” Miller said.
The opening of the filing season follows passage by Congress of an extensive set of tax changes in ATRA on Jan. 1 – 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.
The IRS originally planned to open electronic filing this year on Jan. 22. Green said more than 80 percent of taxpayers filed electronically last year. "Paper returns do slow down the process," he said.
Green said people who file with a preparer using their last pay stub for the year could find different numbers when their W-2 form is issued. Since returns will not be processed until Jan. 30 anyway, Green said taxpayers should have official W-2 documents in time to file their taxes at the end of January.