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IRS offers highlights 2011 tax season

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news Detroit Lakes, 56501
Detroit Lakes Minnesota 511 Washington Avenue 56501

Tax season is here!

Here are some changes, highlights and dates to be aware of for the 2011 tax season.

--Taxpayers will have until Monday, April 18 to file their 2010 tax returns and pay any tax due because Emancipation Day, a holiday observed in the District of Columbia, falls this year on Friday, April 15. By law, District of Columbia holidays impact tax deadlines in the same way that federal holidays do; therefore, all taxpayers will have three extra days to file this year. Taxpayers requesting an extension will have until Oct. 17 to file their 2010 tax returns.

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--For most taxpayers, the 2011 tax filing season starts on schedule. However, tax law changes enacted by Congress and signed by President Obama in December mean some people need to wait until mid to late February to file their tax returns. The IRS needs to reprogram its processing systems for three tax provisions that expired at the end of 2009 and were renewed by the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Reauthorization, and Job Creation Act Of 2010 enacted Dec. 17. Those who need to wait to file include taxpayers claiming: itemized deductions on Schedule A; the Higher Education Tuition and Fees Deduction; and/or the Educator Expense Deduction. For taxpayers who must wait before filing, the delay affects both paper filers and electronic filers. The IRS urges taxpayers to use e-file instead of paper tax forms to minimize confusion over the recent tax law changes and ensure accurate tax returns.

--This is the first filing season that tax packages will not be mailed to individuals or businesses. There are still many options for taxpayers to get paper forms and instructions if they need them. In recent years, fewer and fewer taxpayers received these mailings. Last year, only 8 percent of individuals who filed tax returns received tax packages in the mail. Taxpayers can still get any forms and instructions they need online at www.IRS.gov, or they can visit local IRS offices or participating libraries and post offices.

--Except for those facing a delay, the IRS will begin accepting e-file and Free File returns on Jan. 14. Additional details about e-file and Free File will be announced later this month.

--The IRS reminds tax professionals preparing returns for a fee that this is the first year that they must have a Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN). Tax return preparers should register immediately using the new PTIN sign-up system available through www.IRS.gov/taxpros .

--The IRS also cautions taxpayers with foreign accounts to properly report income from these accounts and file the appropriate forms on time to avoid stiff penalties. "The IRS has made important strides at stopping tax avoidance using offshore accounts," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. "We continue to focus on offshore tax compliance and people with offshore accounts need to pay taxes on income from those accounts."

The IRS also issued several fact sheets (http://www.irs.gov/newsroom/content/0,,id=104575,00.html ) that cover some tax-season topics such as:

2010 Changes Offer Expanded Tax Benefits

Tax Changes for Small Businesses

Most Workers Need to File Schedule M; Making Work Pay Credit Offers Tax Savings Up to $800

Many Types of Free Tax Help Available From the IRS

Follow the IRS on YouTube and Twitter

Expanded Options for Using Tax Refunds to Buy Savings Bonds

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