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Tax return? Don’t file it, IRS tells itemizers. Wait!

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Damian Dovarganes/AP/File

(Read caption) A woman uses a drive-in mail box to drop-in her income tax return on Apr. 14, 2010, in Los Angeles. But this year, the Internal Revenue Service is telling those who itemize to delay filing their tax returns until at least mid-February. The IRS needs time to reprogram its computers because of the late tax deal between Obama and Congress.

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If you’re among the one-third of taxpayers who itemize deductions on their federal tax returns, the IRS says you can take your time filing your 2010 tax return. Or rather you have to take your time. The IRS won’t let itemizers (or people who claim either the college tuition or educator expense deductions) file until mid- to late-February. Why? Because Congress didn’t pass the 2010 tax act until mid-December. The IRS needs time to reprogram its computers to accommodate new tax rules—actually old rules since the tax act mainly extended last year’s law through 2012.

The situation echoes another a few years back when Congress waited until late December to “patch” the alternative minimum tax for 2007 returns. The patch boosted the AMT’s exemption and extended applicable credits, thus sparing more than 20 million taxpayers from owing additional tax. But the 4 million taxpayers still subject to the tax had to wait more than a month while the IRS rewrote its computer programs.

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