Last Wednesday was the first day to file your annual tax return. The Internal Revenue Service has revised its opening date for tax season to Jan. 30, pushing it back eight days from previous years.
The tax filing deadline, of course, is Monday, April 15, 2013.
Most taxpayers should be able to file a bit early, though some revised forms may not be immediately available.
You can blame the delay on the wrangling over the federal "fiscal cliff" crisis and the new tax bill Congress passed just after Dec. 31. Electronic filing season was originally set to start on Jan. 22 this year. You can find more information in this Forbes article.
Taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit, writes Patch IRS Blogger David Stewart.
There are several forms affected by the late legislation that require more extensive programming and testing of IRS systems. The IRS hopes to begin accepting tax returns including these tax forms between late February and into March; a specific date will be announced in the near future.
The key forms that require more extensive programming changes include Form 5695 (Residential Energy Credits), Form 4562 (Depreciation and Amortization) and Form 3800 (General Business Credit). A full listing of the forms that won’t be accepted until later is available on IRS.gov.
Don't have a tax preparer? Jackson Hewitt, a Bay Area tax preparation company, has posted some considerations to keep in mind when choosing a paid professional. The company says it makes sure its preparers go through a comprehensive training curriculum (including basic, intermediate and advanced courses.
[There are several places near Belmont and San Carlos that offer free tax preparation services for qualified taxpayers. Click here to learn more.]
Things to consider now include:
Why it’s important to engage now — Now is the time to find a preparer. The sooner you find the right preparer, the sooner you can start the filing process and ultimately get your refund, if you are owed one.
How to look for a preparer — Select someone who is qualified and credible; consult sources like the Better Business Bureau or state boards of accountancy for certified public accountants. And, of course, you can also ask friends, family or co-workers for references.
What kind of training does your preparer have? — Make sure your preparer is up to date on recent tax changes and understands how those changes may affect you. Ongoing, updated training is also key, since tax law changes often.
The American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, for example, was just passed Jan. 1, 2013 amid the "fiscal cliff" standoff in Congress, and there was much negotiation over the provisions.
Red flags and things to make sure you watch for — It’s important to review your tax return completely and ask questions before signing it. Make sure you understand and are comfortable with the accuracy of what you are reporting. Check for errors such as incorrect Social Security numbers and addresses; these mistakes can delay IRS processing of your return. Also, avoid preparers who ask you to sign a blank return.
What to know about do-it-yourself tax software — Taxpayers who have purchased off-the-shelf tax software and plan to prepare their own returns should confirm that these products are up-to-date, as many late-breaking changes have occurred that may not have been integrated by the time of purchase, such as the Jan. 1 passage of American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012.
Also on Belmont and San Carlos Patch:
Where to Get Free Tax Help Near Belmont and San Carlos
NDNU Providing Free Tax Services
CSM Offers 2 Free Tax Preparation Services