Tax Season Changes

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Tax time has arrived, and, as usual, the new filing season brings changes. Here are three for 2011.

Extra time to file. Thanks to the Emancipation Day holiday that will be celebrated in the nation’s capital on April 15, you have an extra seventy-two hours to file your 2010 tax return, making the due date April 18. And because October 15 falls on a Saturday this year, if you file for an extension you’ll have until Monday, October 17 to get your return finished.

Delayed start. You may need the extra time to file. Due to the changes in the tax bill passed in December, the IRS won’t be ready to accept certain returns until mid February. You’ll be affected if you intend to claim the tuition and fees deduction, the educator expense deduction, or if you itemize deductions on Schedule A.

No more tax packages. This is the first year the IRS will no longer mail tax packages. Instead you’ll find forms and instructions at most libraries and the IRS web site. You can also use the IRS-sanctioned Free File system, a free online service for preparing and e-filing your return—with no paper required. Other options for paperless filing include the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program, which is available if you’re younger than 60 and your income is below $50,000, and the Tax Counseling for the Elderly program, designed to assist with tax filing when you’re over age 60.

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