Why You Can Delay Doing Your Taxes This Year

Now that it's January, a month of bad weather and post-holiday bill-paying, thoughts naturally turn toanother depressing item: filing your 2010 taxes. Thanks to Congress' tardiness in passing the Tax Relief Act in late December, you may be free to procrastinate almost as much as they did. Reinstated deductions and other changes now require the IRS to create new forms and reprogram its computers. The upshot: Many taxpayers, possibly 50 million, give or take a few, will not be able to begin filing until late February. Some think that the snafu may force the IRS to push off the normal tax deadline of April 15 until May. Boohoo.

The IRS named three major groups who will have to wait to file:

  • Taxpayers who itemize deductions on Schedule A. Congress extended the right to deduct state sales taxes in lieu of the state income tax.
  • Filers who claim the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction which allows an annual write-off of up to $4,000.
  • Those who take the Educator Expenses Deduction which allows K-12 teachers to subtract up to $250 a year in out-of-pocket classroom expenses from their incomes on forms 1040 and 1040A.
Other smaller groups of filers will also be delayed because their forms have to be changed to reflect the new tax law provisions. Here's a list of the forms that will be affected.

If you are counting on a fast refund to pay off some credit card bills, the delay stinks. But you can hasten your payment by filing electronically. According to the National Consumer Law Center, you can receive a tax refund directly deposited to your bank account within 8 to 15 days. Another option: have the refund credited to a prepaid card you already have, one you use for payroll or unemployment compensation, for example. If you don't have one, you can find one. Just make sure that the fees are minimal and that you are protected against loss or theft.

If you don't think you'll be owed anything, you can idle comfortably at least until the ides of March.

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Photo courtesy: Mat Honan's photostream on Flickr