Alaska Editorial: Holidays are over

This editorial first ran in the Ketchikan Daily News:

One look at the W-2 stuck in with our paychecks, and the message arrives home loud and clear: The holidays are over and it’s time to move on.

With changes in U.S. tax law, the Internal Revenue Service says it will open the 2013 income tax filing season next week, on Jan. 30. That means they’ll start processing individual tax returns that day.

First, the IRS has to update forms to reflect new tax laws passed earlier this month, and test its website to make sure things are working properly.

Those with more complicated returns than a simple 1040 will be able to file in late February or March, because more changes will affect those returns. The forms that need extensive programming changes are Form 5695 (Residential Energy Credits). 4562 (Depreciation and Amortization) and 3800 (General Business Credit). Most of the folks using those forms usually file closer to the April 15 deadline anyway, or file for extensions until October.

The IRS hopes people will file electronically because it’s easier for them and, they say, faster for the taxpayer, too. Tax refunds come more quickly. Paper returns, while still accepted, will not be processed before the Jan. 30 opening date.

“There is no advantage to filing on paper before the opening date, and taxpayers will receive their tax refunds much faster by using e-file with direct deposit,” wrote the IRS’ David Tucker. More than four-fifths of taxpayers filed electronically last year, he said.

Updates of filing information are posted on the IRS website, IRS.gov. Taxpayers can go to the site and sign up for “e-News subscriptions” if they would like to automatically receive IRS tax tips.

The good thing about tax season opening is that it coincides with longer days. Now that is a silver lining to be relished.

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