Itemize? Then You Can’t File Taxes Until February

The IRS said today that if you itemize your deductions, they don’t want you to file your return until mid-February: at least.

You can thank the US Congress for the extra time or, conversely, blame them for the delay in getting your refund. The IRS said today that due to the sweeping tax legislation signed into law by the President just last week, there’s no way they can start accepting some returns without more time to tinker with their computers.

From today’s IRS press release announcing the delay

“The majority of taxpayers will be able to fill out their tax returns and file them as they normally do,” said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. “We will do everything we can to minimize the impact of recent tax law changes on other taxpayers. The IRS will work through the holidays and into the New Year to get our systems reprogrammed and ensure taxpayers have a smooth tax season.”

To find out if you’re affected, pull out last year’s tax return and look for these forms and/or write-offs. If you’re in the same position for 2010, you can’t file until mid-February.

  • Schedule A: this is the form where you list itemized deductions like mortgage interest, medical expenses and charitable contributions.
  • Tuition and fees: This is also a deduction for many people, but it’s not on Schedule A.
  • Educator expenses: If you’re a teacher, this deduction allows you to write off up to $250 of expenses for classroom materials.

The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can start processing tax returns impacted by the late tax law changes. In the interim, the IRS says people in the affected categories can start working on their tax returns, but they shouldn’t file until they say so. So as February rolls around, check IRS.gov for dates.

While this delay may seem like a great thing for those who procrastinate, actually, of course, it isn’t. After all, if you’re getting a refund, you want to file as early as possible. If you have to pay, you probably weren’t going to file until April anyway. So this is one instance where everybody loses – especially employees of the IRS, who now have to work through the holidays.

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