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Income tax filing season starts on time formost

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DALLAS - For most taxpayers, the 2011 tax filing season starts on schedule.However, tax law changes in December mean some people need to wait until mid- tolate February to file their tax returns in order to give the IRS time toreprogram its processing systems.

"Some taxpayers–including those who itemizedeductions on Form 1040 Schedule A will need to wait to file," said ClaySanford, an IRS spokesman in Dallas.

"This includes taxpayers impacted by any ofthree tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009 and were renewed by the TaxRelief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act Of 2010enacted 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 aswell 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 there will be no delays for millions of parents and students who claim othe reducation credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit extended lastmonth 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 ofup to $250. The educator expense deduction is claimed on Form 1040, Line 23 and Form 1040A, Line 16.

Sanford said 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 providesvarious job creation and investment incentives including 100 percent expensing and a two-percent payroll tax reduction for 2011. Those changes have no effecton the 2011 filing season.

The IRS will announce a specific date in the near future when it can startprocessing 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.

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.

Millions of workers will see their take-home pay rise during 2011 because the new law provides a two percentage point payroll tax cut for employees, reducing their Social Security tax withholding rate from 6.2 percent to 4.2 percent of wages paid.This reduced Social Security withholding will have no effect on the employee’sfuture Social Security benefits.

The act also maintains the income-tax rates that have been in effect in recent years.
Employers should start using the new withholding tables and reducing the amount of Social Security tax withheld as soon as possible in 2011 but not laterthan Jan. 31, 2011.

As always, however, the IRSurges workers to review their withholding every year and, if necessary, fill outa new W-4 and give it to their employer.

For example, individuals and couples with multiple jobs, people who are having children, getting married, getting divorced or buying a home, and those who typically wind up with a balance due or large refund at the end of the year may want to consider submitting revised W-4forms.

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