The Internal Revenue Service opened the 2011 tax filing season by announcing that taxpayers have until April 18 to file their tax returns. Individual income tax filers 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 October 17 to file their 2010 tax returns.
The IRS also reminded tax professionals preparing returns for a fee that this is the first year that they must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Tax return preparers should register immediately using the new PTIN sign-up system if they haven't done so already.
Who Must Wait to File
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. 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.
The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can start processing tax returns impacted by the recent tax law changes. In the interim, taxpayers affected by these tax law changes can start working on their tax returns, but they are being asked not to submit their returns until IRS systems are ready to process the new tax law changes.
For taxpayers who must wait before filing, the delay affects both paper filers and electronic filers.
Except for those facing a delay, the IRS will begin accepting e-file and Free File returns on Jan. 14.