The Internal Revenue Service will start accepting and processing 2013 tax returns Jan. 31.
The delay is to allow time to update, program and properly test all systems after that process was interrupted by the government shutdown in 2013.
IRS spokesman Dan Boone said the agency expects Tennesseans to file about 3 million tax returns, with more than 2.5 million of those filed electronically. He encouraged taxpayers to take advantage of IRS Free File, at irs.gov, where all filers can prepare and file their returns free online beginning Jan. 31.
“E-filing speeds up refunds and eliminates most errors, plus you get confirmation that the IRS got your tax return,” Boone said.
But while the start of the filing season is delayed, Boone reminded filers that the clock is ticking when it comes to certain actions that must be taken by Dec. 31 to count for the 2013 tax year.
“Taxpayers need to act now when it comes to making donations to charities and contributions to workplace retirement plans,” Boone said.
He offered these specific reminders:
• Gifts to charities – Donations to qualified charities must be made by Dec. 31 in order to be deducted on your 2013 tax return. You must itemize deductions and you must have proper documentation for each donation, no matter how large or small it is, to take the charitable contributions deduction. A donation charged to a credit card by Dec. 31 is deductible for 2013 even if you don’t pay the credit card bill until 2014.
• Tax-free IRA distribution – Filers who are age 70 and a half or older can have up to $100,000 transferred directly to a qualified charity. This transfer can serve as the filer’s required minimum yearly IRA distribution, is tax-free to the filer, and benefits the charity. But this tax benefit is set to expire after 12/31/13.
• Saver’s credit – Low- and moderate-income workers can take steps now to save for retirement and earn a special tax credit in 2013. The saver’s credit helps offset part of the first $2,000 workers voluntarily contribute to IRAs and to 401(k) plans and similar workplace retirement programs. People have until April 15, 2014, to set up and contribute to a new IRA for 2013 or to add money to an existing IRA for 2013, but elective contributions to a 401(k) plan or similar workplace program must be made by Dec. 31.