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William Perez

When Can You Begin Filing Your 2012 Federal Tax Return?

By January 29, 2013

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The Internal Revenue Service plans to begin processing tax returns on January 30, 2013, for the year 2012 (IR-2013-2). The IRS previously expected to begin processing tax returns on January 22nd.

The delay in processing tax returns is due to the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), which was signed into law on January 2, 2013. "The opening of the filing season follows passage by Congress of an extensive set of tax changes in ATRA on Jan. 1, 2013, 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."

Most taxpayers will be able to file their tax returns as early as January 30, 2013. The IRS will begin processing returns filed by mail or via electronic filing on that date.

However, some taxpayers will need to wait until later before filing.

Mid-February Start for Form 8863

The IRS announced that the agency will be able to process Form 1040 and Form 1040A tax returns claiming the American Opportunity Credit or Lifetime Learning Credit on Form 8863 around mid-February. Update: the IRS will begin accepting Form 8863 on February 14, 2013. (IR-2013-18.)

Mid-February Start for Form 4562

Update: The IRS announced it will begin accepting tax returns containing Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization, on February 10, 2013. (IR-2013-18.) This form is often used by sole proprietors, business owners, and persons with rental income.

March Start for 30 Other Forms

The IRS will be able to process Form 1040 tax returns with depreciation calculations, tax credits related to energy efficiency, and certain types of business credits until late February to mid-March. Update: the IRS now expects to be able to process these forms beginning the first week of March (IR-2013-18.). The late start on processing tax returns is due to the tax changes made by the American Taxpayer Relief Act, which Congress passed on January 1st. The IRS states that the agency is "updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems" and that it will announce the date when these tax returns can begin being processed. This impacts Form 1040 returns that have any of the following forms included with the return:

  • Form 3800 General Business Credit
  • Form 4136 Credit for Federal Tax Paid on Fuels
  • Form 4562 Depreciation and Amortization (Including Information on Listed Property) -- Update: can be filed beginning February 10, 2013.
  • Form 5074 Allocation of Individual Income Tax to Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  • Form 5471 Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations
  • Form 5695 Residential Energy Credits
  • Form 5735 American Samoa Economic Development Credit
  • Form 5884 Work Opportunity Credit
  • Form 6478 Credit for Alcohol Used as Fuel
  • Form 6765 Credit for Increasing Research Activities
  • Form 8396 Mortgage Interest Credit
  • Form 8582 Passive Activity Loss Limitations
  • Form 8820 Orphan Drug Credit
  • Form 8834 Qualified Plug-in Electric and Electric Vehicle Credit
  • Form 8839 Qualified Adoption Expenses
  • Form 8844 Empowerment Zone and Renewal Community Employment Credit
  • Form 8845 Indian Employment Credit
  • Form 8859 District of Columbia First-Time Homebuyer Credit
  • Form 8864 Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit
  • Form 8874 New Markets Credits
  • Form 8900 Qualified Railroad Track Maintenance Credit
  • Form 8903 Domestic Production Activities Deduction
  • Form 8908 Energy Efficient Home Credit
  • Form 8909 Energy Efficient Appliance Credit
  • Form 8910 Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit
  • Form 8911 Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit
  • Form 8912 Credit to Holders of Tax Credit Bonds
  • Form 8923 Mine Rescue Team Training Credit
  • Form 8932 Credit for Employer Differential Wage Payments
  • Form 8936 Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit

Kelly Phillips Erb (Forbes) both congratulate the IRS on swiftly reprogramming their computers to address changes made by the passage of ATRA. Ms. Erb comments, "IRS Acting Commissioner Steven T. Miller should get a huge pat on the back for scrambling to 'save' the tax season in this manner. Many tax professionals, myself included, expected a much longer delay in processing." Last November, IRS Acting Commissioner Steven Miller warned Congress that the tax filing season could be delayed by about four weeks if Congress passed legislation that revived already expired tax breaks. ATRA did revive a number of tax breaks that had expired at the end of 2011 and of 2012. However, it appears the filing season will only be delayed about two weeks for many taxpayers instead of the four weeks that the Acting Commissioner previously anticipated.

Updated January 29, 2013, with additional information from the IRS. This page will be updated when the IRS announces specific dates for when these types of tax returns can be filed.

IRS Resources:

Updated January 29, 2013, with additional information from the IRS. This page will be updated when the IRS announces specific dates for when these types of tax returns can be filed.

Updated February 9, 2013, with additional information from the IRS regarding the February 10th start date for Form 4562, the February 14th start date form Form 8863, and the first week of March start date for the remainder of the forms impacted by the American Taxpayer Relief Act.

January 15, 2013 at 11:24 pm
(1) Nekia says:

Ok Lets get it irs….

February 26, 2013 at 4:08 pm
(2) kurt says:

Can we submit our tax return by mail even though the IRS is not processing these type of returns until the first week of the March.?

February 26, 2013 at 8:32 pm
(3) William Perez says:

Kurt, you can mail in your tax return. The IRS will begin processing your return whenever the agency is ready to begin processing returns containing the forms that your tax return has.

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