has had a lot of attention, but over the years there have been changes that came
in after the program was in stores," says Julie Miller, spokeswoman for Intuit,
maker of TurboTax. "Even when there isn't (last-minute) legislation, every
year some federal forms are not ready when filing season kicks off. And we've
had lots of practice with state tax forms that typically come in later than federal
tax forms, sometimes not until late January."
year's form situation has prompted the tax software giant to make one change.
"Unique this year is a hard stop in the program before you print or e-file
to make sure that all your forms are updated," says Miller.
procedure is similar at 2nd Story Software, maker of TaxACT. "Regardless
of whether a taxpayer is using a preview product to forecast a tax amount due
or a refund or is using a final product, they can use the update feature,"
says Stephanie Behrends, communications manager for the Cedar Rapids, Iowa-based
If customers of either tax product use the online
versions, updates that include the three extended provisions will be automatic.
That's also the case for the Free File program, the IRS-tax software collaboration
that will be available on Jan. 16 to taxpayers with adjusted gross incomes of
$52,000 or less.
In announcing the alternate deduction guidelines,
the IRS is encouraging filers to use either Free File or other e-filing avenues
to "minimize confusion over the late changes and reduce the chance of making
extender-related errors on their returns." E-filing makes the jobs of IRS
processors easier, too.
But about half of all taxpayers (and
the IRS is expecting a total of 136 million returns this year) still file the
old-fashioned way, filling in paper forms and snail mailing them. These filers
will have a bit of extra work to correctly enter the extended tax deductions on
out the sales tax
If last year's claims are any indication, around
11 million filers will be looking for where to enter the deduction for state sales
While the IRS opted to omit the sales tax break on its
individual return forms, the agency took a chance that it would be renewed and
put together Publication 600. This booklet contains instructions and tables of
applicable sales tax deduction amounts based on a filer's place of residence and
filing status. Instead of tallying up a year's worth of separate receipts, taxpayers
can simply claim the appropriate table amount.
The IRS plans
to mail Publication 600 to about 6 million filers within the next few weeks. Don't
worry if you're not on that list. The document is already available
online at the IRS Web site.