Tax e-file season is officially open

The Internal Revenue Service is now open for 2010 tax business, ready to accept electronically filed income tax returns from most taxpayers.
 
The IRS touts e-file as the best way to file accurate tax returns and ensure speedy delivery of tax refunds. IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman speculates that e-file activity will increase this year, in part due to forced participation from many tax preparers. "With a new legislative e-file mandate for tax preparers, we anticipate that more tax return preparers will be using e-file this year, and we urge people who prepare their own taxes to give it a try. IRS e-file is now the norm, not the exception.”
 
While many tax returns are eligible for immediate e-filing, the IRS is still working to reprogram its computers to reflect new tax law changes enacted by Congress in December.
 
In particular, taxpayers who itemize their deductions by using Schedule A, who claim the higher education tuition and fees deduction, or who claim the educator expense deduction must wait a few more weeks to file their returns. Based on historical filing patterns, the IRS anticipates the delay impacts about 9 million taxpayers. The delay impacts both paper and electronic tax returns, most taxpayers can file immediately.
 
Although the IRS has not announced a specific mid-February start date for accepting the delayed tax returns, many people using e-file can get a head start. Many major software providers have announced they will accept these impacted returns immediately. Those software providers will hold onto the returns and then electronically submit them after the IRS systems open in mid-February for the delayed forms.
 
The IRS has indicated that, as in previous e-filing years, e-file returns will be processed and refunds issued much faster than paper returns. It will take less than two weeks to process an e-filed return, but as many as four to six weeks to process a paper return.

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