Tax season starts

BY ALISTAIR M. NEVIUS

Tuesday, Jan. 17, marks the start of tax season, as the IRS opens up its system to accept e-filed individual tax returns. It will also start accepting returns through its Free File program on Tuesday. Unlike last year, when the start of tax season was delayed for some taxpayers by last-minute tax law changes, this year the IRS will be accepting all individual returns when it opens up its e-filing system.

The filing deadline for 2011 Forms 1040 is April 17 because April 15 falls on a Sunday and April 16 is Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in the District of Columbia, which by federal law affects federal tax deadlines in the same way a federal holiday would (T.D. 9507).

The IRS expects to be able to issue refunds in as few as 10 days for taxpayers who e-file and choose direct deposit for their refund. It estimates that 90% of refunds will be issued within 21 days of filing (FS-2012-4). However, the IRS notes that these estimates are for error-free returns.

The IRS also cautions taxpayers that it is increasingly scrutinizing returns for signs of fraud, which will delay some refunds.

Taxpayers can check on the status of their refunds using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on the IRS website or the IRS2go iPhone or Android apps.

For a discussion of tax changes affecting 2011 returns and a tax season quick guide, see “Tax relief and health care acts shape 2011 returns”; for news and changes affecting tax season, visit “Tax filing season resources—Tax year 2011.”

Alistair M. Nevius ( anevius@aicpa.org ) is editor-in-chief for tax.

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