If you’re like me, you’re one of those people who can’t wait to get your W-2s and 1099s in the mail in January. We’ve always gotten a bit of a refund (yes, I know, it’s money that could be better spent invested, but that’s a topic for another day). And now that we’re homeowners, the refund is magnified, thanks to mortgage interest and property tax deductions. But to get those deductions, we have to use Schedule A to itemize.
Checking the mail at the end of January for W-2 and 1099 forms has long been a ritual for me — a lame ritual, but it’s the little things that make me happy. My full-time job sends the W-2, while freelance gigs, book royalties, investments and the mortgage company sends me all sorts of 1099 and 1098 forms. More often than not, I’m waiting into February for a straggler; some company or other will delay their mailings even though federal law says they have to be sent out by the end of January.
Then it’s time to conjure up all the magical forms and instructions that we’ll need to file. I’ll search out deductions, check out additions to the tax code in the past year, and gather everything in anticipation of the magical day we prepare our tax returns.
But thanks to Congress’ last-minute extension of President George W. Bush-era tax cuts, the IRS needs more time to update its software and processing systems, and has announced that taxpayers who use Schedule A are going to have to wait for the go-ahead to send in their tax returns. The initial window for itemizers to file their returns is currently mid- to late-February, but an exact date has yet to be determined.
Taxpayers claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees deduction or the Educator Expense deduction also have to bide their time until the appointed date, the IRS says.
And it doesn’t matter if you e-file or mail in paper returns — we’re all in the same boat here, folks. What does it all mean? Since the tax filing season is effectively being shortened, those of us expecting refunds will have to wait through the resulting processing delays.
It’s not the end of the world, but it would have been nice to get our tax refund around the time Baby Saver is due (early March), which is when we usually get our refund direct-deposited into our checking account. No muss, no fuss! But like tens of millions of other taxpayers, we’ll be waiting it out. And it’s likely the processing delay will affect all taxpayers — not just those expecting refunds.
IRS Filing Deadline Extended for 2011
In other news, 2010 tax filing deadline has been extended to April 18 this year. This is thanks to a holiday on April 15 that’s recognized in Washington, D.C., where the IRS is headquartered, called Emancipation Day. As this holiday falls on a Friday, and federal law also doesn’t allow the tax filing deadline to fall on a Saturday or Sunday, we’ve all got until the end of the day Monday, April 18 to run to the post office before midnight.
But I seriously hope you’re not one of those world-champion procrastinators who wait in line at the post office, hoping to have your tax return envelope postmarked before midnight!