Don’t send your tax returns to the IRS just yet. Thanks to the changes made to the imaginatively named American Taxpayer Relief Act during the fiscal cliff negotiations, the agency is pleading for your patience while it tweaks its forms and re-programs its computers.
Pushing the opening of tax filing season back about a week to Jan. 30 should give the printers and programmers sufficient time to begin handling the first wave of returns expected from some 120 million households. But before you start feeling too warm and fuzzy about the tax collector, make no mistake—the April 15 final filing deadline will not be stretched.
It’s important to note that the IRS will not process payer tax returns before the opening date. There’s no advantage to filing on paper before then, it says, stressing that refunds will be delivered much faster if remitters use the “E-file” system with direct deposit.
“The best option for taxpayers is to file electronically,” urges IRS Acting Commission Steven Miller.
While the vast majority of taxpayers should be able to begin filing Jan. 30, the agency estimates many who must file the more extensive forms claiming general business credits, depreciation of property or breaks for residential energy usage (Forms 3800, 4562 and 5695, respectively) may not be able get their returns in until late February or March. (A full listing of forms is available at IRS.gov.)
Once you’ve completed your 2012 tax paperwork, take a moment to add one more item to your to-do list. While you’re still sitting at your desk or kitchen table, take a couple of sheets of your business letterhead and in your neatest handwriting, encourage your members of Congress to seriously begin the effort to once and for all truly reform the U.S. Tax Code.
Remind them that Congress has constantly tinkered with the code, making nearly 5,000 changes—an average of one a day—since 2001. The bloated volume of law has grown to include nearly four million words.
Encourage those who represent you on Capitol Hill to read the latest report from National Taxpayer Advocate Nina E. Olson that was released in early January. This in-house government official says the most serious problem facing you and millions of other taxpayers is—you guessed it–the tax code’s unbelievable complexity.
If they don’t read anything else, urge them to study her comments on tax reform. The code imposes an “unconscionable burden on taxpayers,” she writes, emphasizing that nearly 60 percent hire paid preparers and another 30 percent must depend on software that costs $50 or more.
“In other words, taxpayers must spend money just to figure out how much money they owe,” she stated.
For many years, NFIB has been urging Congress to engage in tax reform and we will not stop until it’s done. That’s why your letters to lawmakers are just as important as your completed tax return. They both are important to the effective governing of America.