Procrastinating on Filing Your 2012 Tax Return? Don’t Sweat It


The IRS still needs time to prepare dozens of other forms and software programs for new and retroactive tax exemptions, credits, and other provisions tucked into the fiscal cliff bill, passed by Congress and signed by President Obama in early January after months of partisan wrangling.

According to Psychology Today, "Everyone procrastinates sometimes, but 20 percent of people chronically avoid difficult tasks and deliberately look for distractions—which, unfortunately, are increasingly available."  Whether you are among the 80 percent or the 20 percent, don't feel guilty if you're procrastinating filing your 2012 income tax return. You've got a good excuse!

Because Congress waited so long to act on the so-called fiscal cliff bill (American Taxpayers Relief Act of 2012), the IRS has had to prepare new tax forms and develop and test software programs to accommodate all the of last-minute code changes. In fact, the IRS still needs time to prepare dozens of forms and software programs for new and retroactive tax exemptions, credits, and other provisions. As a result, the Boston Globe article "Delayed forms give new excuse to procrastinators" reports that "about 27 million Americans won’t be able to file 2012 tax returns until late February or even March, as the IRS tries to ready and distribute all the necessary forms."

 The IRS says the delayed forms cover about 30 tax provisions, including the general business tax credit, the mortgage-interest credit, and the work-opportunity credit. They also need to process a number of energy related tax forms, such as for residential energy credits and for plug-in electric car credits.

 So, for once at least, there's no need to feel guilty about a little tax-time procrastination. Remember, though, that while Congress and the IRS extended their own deadlines, they won't extend yours. April 15 is still the filing deadline for 2012 taxes.

 Tax specialists also advise you to take note of certain retroactive changes that could affect your 2012 taxes:

 Alternative Minimum Tax. The AMT standard exemption jumps to $50,600 from $33,750 for individuals and to $78,750 from $56,600 for married couples. The recently enacted tax deal also indexes the AMT threshold to inflation.

American Opportunity Tax Credit. This credit up to $2,500 for expenses incurred during the first four years of college was reinstated for 2012 through 2015.

Child tax credit. A $1,000 credit for dependent children under 17 was due to be cut to $500 in 2012, but the new law keeps it at $1,000 for 2012 returns.

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Reference: The Boston Globe (Feb. 10, 2013) "Delayed forms give new excuse to procrastinators"