Christmas gifts for tax and financial geeks
Home energy tax breaks are extended, just in time
for the arrival of, for many, an unusually warm winter

Upcoming filing season will start on time: Jan. 19, 2016
Free File opens for business a bit earlier: Friday, Jan. 15, 2016

Kay Bell personal crystal ball (2)Hot damn! My tax crystal ball -- yep, that's it there to the left -- is working again!

Today the Internal Revenue Service announced that the 2016 filing season will start on time. The IRS will begin accepting electronically filed individual returns on Tuesday, Jan. 19, 2016.

It's on a Tuesday because Monday, Jan. 18, 2016, is Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, a federal holiday.

There's even better news for folks who are eligible to use Free File. This IRS/private tax software industry partnership allows millions of taxpayers to prepare their returns online and e-file them at no cost.

Free File opens for business on Friday, Jan. 15, 2016 for those with adjusted gross income of $62,000 or less. 

This good filing news -- which I hoped for anticipated blogged about last Friday -- comes after the IRS reviewed the recently enacted tax extenders. All the 50-plus business and individual tax breaks were made retroactive to the 2015 tax year, which covers the returns we'll be filing next year.

No problem with extenders: Twenty-two of the tax laws were made permanent (as far as that goes in tax-speak). The others were extended for 2016 or through 2019.

And while a few tweaks were made to some of the extenders, the changes weren't significant enough to cause the IRS problems in processing them.

"We look forward to opening the 2016 tax season on time," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement announcing the upcoming filing season schedule. "Our employees have been working hard throughout this year to make this happen. We also appreciate the help from the nation's tax professionals and the software community, who are critical to helping taxpayers during the filing season."

That means that we taxpayers can get to submitting our 1040s on schedule.

April filing due date later: Koskinen also reminded us that we get a couple of extra days to get our returns to the IRS.

As I posted back in May -- do I seem to be particularly braggy today about my early tax reporting prowess? -- the April deadline for 2015 tax returns next year is April 18.

The extra days to fill out our returns and get them to Uncle Sam are thanks to a convergence of the usual April 15 filing due date, weekends and state and federal holidays.

The calendar bottom line is that because Emancipation Day, a legal holiday in Washington, D.C., is on Friday, April 15, 2016, the filing deadline is pushed to Monday, April 18.

And Patriots Day in Maine and Massachusetts means those filers have until April 19 to finish up their federal returns.

So get our your red pens and mark Tuesday, Jan. 19, and Monday, April 18 (or Tuesday, April 19) on your 2016 tax calendars.

State deadlines likely affected, too: Finally, don't forget about your state taxes.

Most of the 43 states that collect income taxes from their residents follow the federal tax-filing calendar. But double check with your state's tax department (or here at the ol' blog) early next year, just to be sure.


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