The Internal Revenue Service opened the 2011 tax filing season on Tuesday by announcing that taxpayers have until April 18 to file their tax returns.
Taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file their taxes 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 the three extra days to file. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their 2010 tax returns.
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 those accounts.”
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, which were enacted Dec. 17. Those who need to wait include:
• Taxpayers Claiming Itemized Deductions on Schedule A
• Taxpayers Claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction
• Taxpayers Claiming the Educator Expense Deduction
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 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.
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.