Income tax preparers are urging their clients to bring in their tax information just as soon as each piece arrives rather than wait until it all arrives and bring it in at one time.
If clients wait, it could lead to bottleneck for preparers that could lead to late filings or requests for extensions.
Normally, tax information is sent to individuals and businesses in a timely fashion so it can be gathered and taken to a preparer.
But Congress threw the Internal Revenue Service a big curve that is going to slow that process down substantially.
On Jan. 2, Congress passed a law requiring the IRS to change their programming laws that retroactively covered the entire year of 2012, said Frank Laubhan, CPA.
That programming change means that certain tax information will not be available for days, weeks or even a month later. With those delays it will mean more tax returns cannot be fully processed until closer to tax filing deadline on April 15.
Those delays could mean that tax preparers will have many more income tax returns to complete closer to the deadline and that could lead to more extensions or even late filings, Laubhan said.
The slow down could also mean a delay in getting tax refunds.
Right now, only basic tax returns can be filed so if people have their information they should take it to their preparer as soon as they can.
The new IRS programming problems have slowed down several tax elements. People with depreciation schedules can't file yet and if someone has educational credits for college students, the IRS won't be able to accept those until late February.
Many wanting to qualify for Free Application for Federal Student Aid will not be able to get their educational credit information by the March 1 deadline and will have to estimate because the IRS won't be able to accept those returns until all the programming is complete.
Farm returns are traditionally due March 1 but with the new programming, the IRS won't accept farm returns until after the first of March.
In some instances, the IRS hasn't informed preparers when certain types of returns will be accepted. Those include corporations, partnerships and trusts. Laubhan said his best guess to accept those returns would be sometime in March.
While all the IRS is pushing back all these filing acceptance dates it cannot push back the April 15 filing deadline because that is a federal statue.
Brokerage firms had to file their 1099 forms by Jan. 31 to pay dividends. That was extended several years ago to Feb. 15. With the new programming delays those 1099 forms won't even show up until Feb. 25 because they were just mailed on Feb. 15.
Page 2 of 2 - All these delays mean that income tax information will be available slower and that will cause more tax returns to be completed in less time with the potential of extensions or missed deadlines.
To avoid those problems, just as soon as tax information arrives, take it to the preparer and let them start working on the return with what is available, Laubhan said.
"There is a lot of work we can do in advance but we do have to have the information," Laubhan said.