By Sandra Block, USA TODAY
Taxpayers who claim itemized deductions will be able to file their federal tax returns starting Feb. 14, the IRS said Thursday.
While the tax-filing season began on Jan. 4, the IRS announced last year that taxpayers who itemize — which includes just about everyone who has a mortgage — would have to wait until at least mid-February to file.
The IRS said the delay was necessary because it needed more time to program its systems to accommodate tax breaks included in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization and Job Creation Act of 2010.
The legislation, which was signed into law Dec. 17, extended the Bush tax cuts through 2012. It also extended a number of expiring tax breaks, including the state and local sales tax deduction, higher education tuition and fees deduction, and educator expenses deduction.
Those who will have to wait until Feb. 14 to file their federal returns include:
•Taxpayers who claim itemized deductions on Schedule A. Itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable deductions, medical and dental expenses, and state and local taxes.
•Taxpayers who claim the educator expense deduction. This deduction allows teachers to deduct up to $250 in out-of-pocket costs for classroom materials. It's an "above-the-line" deduction, which means taxpayers don't have to itemize to claim it.
•Taxpayers who claim a deduction for their tuition and fees. This is also an above-the-line deduction.
Parents and students who claim other education credits, including the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Lifetime Learning Credit, will not have to wait to file, assuming they don't itemize.
About 50 million taxpayers itemize on their tax returns. However, the IRS says only about 9 million typically file before mid-February.