01/14/2013 06:59 pm ET Updated Mar 16, 2013

The Delayed Tax Season and What It Means to You

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) announced that it will delay accepting all 2012 tax returns by eight days, pushing the acceptance of both e-file and paper tax returns to January 30, more than a week past the originally scheduled date of January 22. Although unfortunate and burdensome for millions of taxpayers, this IRS delay does not change taxpayer's ability to have their tax returns prepared. You can start your tax return now, so you are ready to file when the IRS "goes live."

It's also important to note that even though the start of tax season has been pushed back, the filing deadline of April 15 remains unchanged.

This delay demonstrates how the fiscal cliff solution, a seemingly very simple one where many tax benefits were put back in the tax laws, has many complex considerations. While the IRS did as much programming as they could in anticipation of the alternative minimum tax (AMT) patch and the "extender" provisions such as the tuition and fees deduction, sales tax deduction, private mortgage insurance deduction, etc., by law, the IRS was unable to finalize their programming and complete their testing until the bill was signed. Ultimately more than 80 forms were impacted by the bill, which is now causing delays for all.

Most taxpayers will be able to file their return January 30, including taxpayers who itemize deductions and claim the sales tax deduction. The taxpayers that claim an energy credit, depreciation or business credits will be delayed until late February. These taxpayers may not feel as impacted as those who file in January, because they typically do not file until late February normally.

The IRS delay shows how complex the changes are deep down. Taxpayers should note that this is not a year to consider doing taxes alone without help and current software. Be sure your software is up to date and your preparer is trained on the changes, because not all software and systems will be. If you choose to file alone, be sure your software is current by downloading all available updates or you'll risk an error or omission or left-off benefits.

Regardless of the IRS delay, as I have been saying these past few months leading up to tax season, there is no reason to delay preparing your tax return as soon as you are ready with your documents. Filing early comes with a host of benefits, such as helping to protect yourself against tax-related ID theft. Plus, if you're ready, you'll be able to have you return submitted to the IRS on January 30, and you'll receive your refund shortly thereafter.