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Late tax breaks mean some must wait until mid-February to file

Posted January 8, 2011
Updated January 13, 2011

— Some taxpayers will have to wait to file until mid- to late February to file their returns because of late changes to the 2010 tax law passed by Congress in December.

The IRS said it needs more time to re-program its processing systems to take into account the new law. The agency plans to announce a more definitive filing date before then.

The IRS said taxpayers who will need to wait to file fit into three categories: 

  • Taxpayers claiming itemized deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses as well as state and local taxes. In addition, itemized deductions include the state and local general sales tax deduction extended in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 enacted Dec. 17, which primarily benefits people living in areas without state and local income taxes and is claimed on Schedule A, Line 5. 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 and 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.

For taxpayers who must wait before filing, the delay will affect paper and electronic filers.

The IRS said people in the affected categories should start working on their tax returns, but not submit their returns until systems are ready to process the new tax law changes. A specific date of when systems are ready will be announced in the near future. 

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