Fiscal Cliff Could Delay Filing Season

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Acting IRS Commissioner: Congress’ failure to act on fiscal cliff could delay filing season

December 7, 2012: Taxpayers may face a significantly delayed filing season and a much larger tax bill for 2012 if Congress fails to timely resolve fiscal cliff issues, Acting IRS Commissioner Steven T. Miller said on December 6.

Speaking at the 25th Annual Institute on Current Issues in International Tax sponsored by IRS and the George Washington University School of Law in Washington, Miller said that “I remain optimistic that the fiscal cliff will be resolved by the end of this calendar fiscal year [but] if that turns out not to be true, then what is clear is that many of us will see a delayed filing season.”

Miller said that the uncertainty as to what the tax law will be in 2012 creates a risk for the entire tax system, including a strain on IRS, tax practitioners, and ultimately, taxpayers.

“There is currently a real discussion about the tax rates for the next year and beyond as well as the national debt and that is an incredibly important discussion,” he said. “But taxpayers and the IRS need to know what the tax provisions are for 2012 so you know what you owe and so we know how to process the return beginning in January.”

He noted that the alternative minimum tax (AMT) and other extender provisions had expired at the end of 2011, but that these had been overshadowed by other higher profile fiscal cliff issues. Miller said that in programming its systems, IRS has assumed that Congress will patch the AMT as it has for so many years in the past. However, he warned that if Congress fails to resolve fiscal cliff issues prior to the end of the year and the IRS’s assumptions are incorrect, the filing season will be delayed for many taxpayers.