IRS’s revised income tax guide available online

Officials: Government shutdown delays tax season start to Jan. 31

ATLANTA — Officials with the Internal Revenue Service recently revised the agency’s comprehensive tax guide, which they said should help taxpayers get a jump on filing their 2013 federal income tax returns.

The guide, titled “Your Federal Income Tax,” is available at www.IRS.gov under Publication 17. It features details about tax-saving opportunities such as the American Opportunity Tax Credit for parents and college students and the Child Tax Credit and Earned Income Tax Credit for low- and moderate-income workers.

The 292-page digital booklet also outlines 2013 tax changes such as revised tax rates and new limits on tax benefits. There are interactive links throughout the document as well.

Publication 17 has been published annually by the IRS since the 1940s and has been available on the IRS website since 1996. It comprises basic tax-filing information and tips on what income to report and how to report it, figuring capital gains and losses, claiming dependents, choosing the standard deduction versus itemizing deductions, and using Individual Retirement Arrangements to save for retirement.

The IRS plans to start processing 2013 income tax returns Jan. 31, when the 2014 filing season kicks off.

IRS Acting Commissioner Danny Werfel said in a news release that this year’s later opening date for individuals to file their 2013 tax returns will allow the agency time to program, update and test its tax processing systems — time interrupted by the 16-day federal government closure in October.

The IRS reported that about 90 percent of its operations closed during the shutdown, putting it nearly three weeks behind in preparing for the new tax season.

“Our teams have been working hard throughout the fall to prepare for the upcoming tax season,” said Werfel. “The late January opening gives us enough time to get things right with our programming, testing and systems validation. It’s a complex process, and our bottom-line goal is to provide a smooth filing and refund process for the nation’s taxpayers.”

Werfel said the government closure meant the IRS had to change the original opening date from Jan. 21 to Jan. 31, a day later than the 2013 filing season opening, which started Jan. 30, 2013, following January tax law changes made by Congress on Jan. 1 under the American Taxpayer Relief Act. He said the extensive set changes affected many 2012 tax returns and led to the late January opening.

IRS officials said the April 15 tax deadline will remain in place but taxpayers can request an automatic six-month extension to file their tax return using Form 4868.

Despite the delays, officials said several of the updated 2013 tax return forms have already been posted to the IRS website, including Form 1040, Form 1040A and Form 1040EZ. They are encouraging taxpayers to use e-file or Free File, which means they can receive potential refunds faster.