The Internal Revenue Service has a special Valentine’s Day gift for us taxpayers whose 2010 tax returns have been placed on hold. Feb. 14 is the day the agency says it will begin processing our taxes.

Because it took Congress so long to pass tax legislation that affects 2010 taxes, the IRS has been playing catch-up. It’s updating its computer system, which it depends on to handle the around 140 million returns it receives each year, to reflect the new tax laws.

Specifically, it’s working on information upgrades for taxpayers who itemize deductions using Schedule A, as well as those who claim the educators’ out-of-pocket expenses deduction and the deduction for college tuition and fees.

The IRS can’t do anything with those returns until its computer system is updated.

The upgrades are expected to be completed and the IRS will be ready to rock with our returns on Feb. 14.

But you don’t have to wait until Valentine’s Day to file. The IRS says most tax preparation software companies — and most of us do use the products to prepare our taxes and e-file them — will accept our returns now and simply hold them until Feb. 14. On that day, the software folks will then hit the “send” button for us.

Good to know, since most of us will probably be thinking about other things as mid-February nears, such as the perfect Valentine’s Day gift for our significant others!

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