The IRS had originally planned to open electronic tax filing on January 22. The delay is due to changes in tax law passed by congress on New Year's Day. The American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA) was the compromise bill that was the result of the "fiscal cliff" standoff between the president and house Republicans.
The IRS is now updating forms and "completing programming and testing of its processing systems." The updates should, the IRS states, allow the "vast majority" of Americans to file their tax returns beginning January 30. For those few who need more obscure forms for things such as residential energy credit claims, depreciation of property, or general business credits, further form updating and processing systems changes should allow them to file in late February or early March.
“We have worked hard to open tax season as soon as possible,” said Steven T. Miller, acting commissioner of the IRS. “This date ensures we have the time we need to update and test our processing systems.”
The IRS stated that not even paper tax returns will be processed before January 30, and that taxpayers receive their refunds more quickly when filing electronically anyway. Over 80% of taxpayers in the U.S. filed electronically in 2012.
“The best option for taxpayers is to file electronically,” said Miller.