IR-2011-1, Jan. 4, 2011
WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service today opened the
2011 tax filing season by announcing that taxpayers have until
April 18 to file their tax returns. The IRS reminded taxpayers
impacted by recent tax law changes that using e-file is the best
way to ensure accurate tax returns and get faster refunds.
Taxpayers 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 Oct. 17
to file their 2010 tax returns.
The IRS expects to receive more than 140 million individual
tax returns this year, with most of those being filed by the
April 18 deadline.
The IRS also cautioned taxpayers with foreign accounts to
properly report income from these accounts and file the
appropriate forms on time to avoid stiff penalties.
“The IRS has made important strides at stopping tax
avoidance using offshore accounts,” said IRS Commissioner Doug
Shulman. “We continue to focus on offshore tax compliance and
people with offshore accounts need to pay taxes on income from
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 available
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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.
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 that was also
extended and which primarily benefits people living in areas
without state and local income taxes. 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.
In addition to extending those tax deductions for 2010, the Tax
Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation
Act also extended those deductions for 2011 and a number of
other tax deductions and credits for 2011 and 2012 such as the
American Opportunity Tax Credit and the modified Child Tax
Credit, which help families pay for college and other
child-related expenses. The Act also provides various job
creation and investment incentives including 100 percent
expensing and a two-percent payroll tax reduction for 2011.
Those changes have no effect on the 2011 filing season.
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 should
not submit their returns until IRS systems are ready to process
the new tax law changes. Additional information will be
available at www.IRS.gov.
For taxpayers who must wait before filing, the delay affects
both paper filers and electronic filers. The IRS urges taxpayers
to use e-file instead of paper tax forms to minimize confusion
over the recent tax law changes and ensure accurate tax returns.
Except for those facing a delay, the IRS will begin accepting
e-file and Free File returns on Jan. 14. Additional details
about e-file and Free File will be announced later this month.
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Many Ways to Get Assistance
The IRS is also continuing to focus on taxpayer service.
Taxpayers with questions should check the IRS website at www.IRS.gov,
call our toll-free number or visit a taxpayer assistance center.
This is also the first filing season that tax packages will
not be mailed to individuals or businesses. There are still many
options for taxpayers to get paper forms and instructions if
they need them. In recent years, fewer and fewer taxpayers
received these mailings. Last year, only 8 percent of
individuals who filed tax returns received tax packages in the
mail. Taxpayers can still get any forms and instructions they
need online at www.IRS.gov, or
they can visit local IRS offices or participating libraries and
In addition, individuals making $49,000 or less can use the
Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program for free tax preparation
and, in many cases, free electronic filing. Individuals age 60
and older can take advantage of free tax counseling and basic
income tax preparation through Tax Counseling for the Elderly.
IRS Free File provides options for free brand-name tax
software or online fillable forms plus free electronic filing.
Everyone can use Free File to prepare a federal tax return.
Taxpayers who make $58,000 or less can choose from approximately
20 commercial software providers. There’s no income limit for
Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic version of IRS paper
forms, which also includes free e-filing.
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Check for a Refund
Once taxpayers file their federal return, they can track the
status of their refunds by using the “Where's My Refund?”
tool, located on the front page of www.IRS.gov.
Taxpayers can generally get information about their refunds 72
hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of their e-filed
returns, or three to four weeks after mailing a paper return.
Taxpayers need to provide the following information from
their tax returns: (1) Social Security Number or Individual
Taxpayer Identification Number, (2) filing status, and (3) the
exact whole dollar amount of your anticipated refund. If the
U.S. Postal Service returns the taxpayer’s refund to the IRS,
the individual may be able to use “Where’s My Refund?” to
change the address the IRS has on file, online.
Also, taxpayers may complete a Form 8822, Change of Address,
and send it to the address shown on the form. They may download
Form 8822 from www.IRS.gov or
order it by calling 800-TAX-FORM. Generally, taxpayers can file
an online claim for a replacement check if more than 28 days
have passed since the IRS mailed their refund.
Related Item: IR-2010-126,
Tax Season Starts on Time for Most Taxpayers; Those Affected by
Late Tax Breaks Can File in Mid- to Late February