WASHINGTON — It will take a little longer for some taxpayers to file their 2010 returns, but it will be worth the wait for beneficiaries of a new tax law: college students, teachers and residents of states that have sales taxes but no income tax.
Thanks to a December tax package that was hailed as a forerunner of a bipartisan spirit in government, the Internal Revenue Service needs to reprogram computers for new college tuition breaks, teachers who buy classroom supplies with their own money, and Americans who live where there's no state and local income tax to deduct.
The new tax law gives benefits ranging from tax cuts for millionaires and the middle class to longer-term help for the jobless.
The IRS said Thursday that it will be mid- to late February before it can accept returns that apply for those tax breaks. However, delays will be minimal for those who already itemize deductions, because they normally must wait for their financial documents.
"The IRS will work through the holidays and into the new year to get our systems reprogrammed and ensure taxpayers have a smooth tax season," IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman said.
The IRS will announce a specific date when it can start processing returns affected by the changes.
The changes in the law that will cause delays:
The new line on Schedule A, Itemized deductions, to allow for state and local sales tax deductions. Taxpayers in states with income taxes usually chose that deduction instead. Taxpayers cannot complete Schedule A until this tax break is programmed in IRS computers.
The new higher education tuition and fees deduction for parents and students, covering up to $4,000 paid to a post-secondary institution. Many parents and students, however, will instead use existing education credits.
The new expense deduction for kindergarten-through-grade 12 educators who have out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250.