January 18, 2013

While the IRS originally planned to open tax filing season on January 22nd this year, there’s been a small delay.

Not surprising, given all the Fiscal Cliff Mess. (Yeah, that’s Mess with a capital M.) The IRS will need more time to update all of its forms and get it’s back-end processing systems in place to accept more than 120 million returns before April 15th. So if you’re the proactive type, you’ll be getting your refund a little over a week later than you had hoped.

Not everyone can start filing on January 30th, however. People claiming residential energy credits, depreciation of property or general business credits will have to wait a little longer to file. But most of those in this group file more complex tax returns, so they typically file closer to the April 15th deadline or ask for an extension anyway. Find a more detailed list of who will have to wait to file on the IRS website.

To get your refund as quickly as possible, it’s best to e-file if possible. Paper returns are processed more slowly.

Simpler Home Office Deduction

The IRS also announced a simpler process for claiming the home office deduction for tax year 2013 (for filing in 2014).

The new optional deduction is capped at $1,500 per year, based on $5 per square foot, up to 300 square feet. It’s meant to reduce paperwork and record keeping for an estimated 3.4 million filers who claim the home office deduction, and save an estimated 1.6 million hours annually.

Currently, people who claim this deduction are generally required to fill out a 43-line form (Form 8829), complete with complex calculations of allocated expenses, depreciation and carry-overs of unused deductions.

Whoa, a simpler tax form? Keep going, IRS, keep going.