Tax Season Kicks-Off With Start of E-Filing

BOSTON ( TheStreet) -- Tax season is officially under way.

Starting today, the IRS will begin accepting e-file and Free File returns. More than 140 million individual tax returns are expected to be filed this year.

Tax season is under way, with the IRS as of today accepting some -- but not all -- returns.

Not everyone will be able to file immediately, however.

According to the IRS, end-of-year tax law changes mean that some people need to wait until mid- to late February to file their tax returns, giving the IRS time to reprogram its processing systems.

Some taxpayers -- including those who itemize deductions on Form 1040 Schedule A -- will need to wait to file. This includes taxpayers affected by any of three tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009 and were renewed by the Tax Relief ACT, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act Of 2010.

Those who need to wait include those who are :

Claiming itemized deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses as well as state and local taxes. Because of late Congressional action to enact tax law changes, anyone who itemizes and files a Schedule A will need to wait to file until mid- to late February.

Claiming the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction. This deduction for parents and students -- covering up to $4,000 of tuition and fees paid to a post-secondary institution -- is claimed on Form 8917. There will be no delays for parents and students who claim other education credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit, which was extended last month, and the Lifetime Learning Credit.

The Educator Expense Deduction. This deduction is for kindergarten through grade 12 educators with out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250.

The IRS will announce a specific date when it can start processing tax returns affected by the recent tax law changes. For taxpayers who must wait before filing, the delay affects paper filers and electronic filers.

Taxpayers this year will have until April 18 to file 2010 tax returns and pay any tax due because Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls on April 15. By law, D.C. holidays affect tax deadlines in the same way as federal holidays. Those requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their returns.

The IRS is reminding tax professionals preparing returns for a fee that this is the first year they must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number. Preparers can register using the new PTIN sign-up system at www.IRS.gov/taxpros.

This is also the first filing season that tax packages will not be mailed to individuals or businesses. Last year, only 8% of individuals who filed tax returns got tax packages in the mail. Printable forms and instructions are available online at www.IRS.gov, at local IRS offices and in participating libraries and post offices. Taxpayers who make $58,000 or less can choose from some 20 commercial software providers as part of the IRS' Free File program.

-- Written by Joe Mont in Boston.

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