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Picking a tax pro

Mark your calendar: Today, Jan. 16 & Feb. 3

And you thought April 15 (actually the 16th this year since the regular deadline falls on a Sunday) was the only tax day you had to think about.
If only.

Electronicirslogo1_2 Today, Jan. 12, is a biggie, since the IRS starts accepting e-filed returns. If you've got all your paperwork and are ready to go, hit "enter" now. Here's a story I did for Bankrate on your e-filing options. And here's the IRS official announcement about the process.

Then next Tuesday, Jan. 16, the Free File Alliance is open for business.  If you make $52,000 or less, you should be able to find a software provider at the IRS site who'll let you do your taxes online and then send them to Uncle Sam for free. More details at the Free File page. (And I have story on the program that'll run over on Bankrate that day, too, in case you also want to jot that down on your calendar. I'm just saying.)

Finally, we have Feb. 3. This new addition to the tax calendar is when the IRS says it'll be able to get around to processing your returns, regardless of whether you e-file them or send paper forms via snail mail, if -- and here's the important part -- if you claim one of the extender tax breaks that weren't enacted until late December.

You probably remember from this entry that the IRS already warned us that having to deal with these deductions -- state sales tax, college tuition and fees and educators' out-of-pocket expenses -- that didn't make it onto 2006 tax forms was going to slow things down.

That's a pain, since most early filers do so in the first part of the year because they're getting a refund. And a good number of them e-file since that method typically speeds up the IRS cash back even more.

But I just wanted to make sure that you realized that, depending on which deductions you claim, your filing efficiency is not going to be matched by the IRS, at least not this first part of the 2007 tax season.

Just a stray thought: Feb. 3 is a Saturday. Are IRS employees really going to be working that weekend?

One other reminder: Jan. 16 is also the day that payers of estimated taxes must get their final 1040ES voucher of 2006 on its way to the IRS.


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