Estimated tax payments due Jan. 15
Guns, ammo, violence and taxes

The 1040 is ready! The 1040 is ready!

Yeah, I'm feeling a bit like a tax geeky Paula Revere here, but the official update of Form 1040 is good news.

We're all waiting for the Internal Revenue Service to get ready for us 140 million or so taxpayers to send in our 2012 returns. They're aiming to open their doors, both real and digital, on Jan. 30.

The biggest tax task is, of course, transferring all the American Taxpayer Relief Act data into Uncle Sam's computers.

But the IRS also has to do basic stuff, like getting the tax returns updated.

If you've spent any time browsing the draft tax returns section of the IRS' website (and who doesn't?), you know there are lots of forms still in interim shape.

One that kept catching my eye was the long Form 1040. This is the return that folks who itemize, like me (OK, so some of my interest was personal; so sue me!), must file. The main thing we've been waiting for here is updates to the adjustments to income, otherwise known as above-the-line deductions.

The educators expenses and tuition and fees deductions were among the extenders that expired at the end of 2011. So while it was waiting for Congress to decide whether to renew them, the IRS put together a draft 1040 that looked, in that section, like this:

1040 adjusted gross income before Click image for a larger view.

Note lines 23 and 34, listed as "Reserved."

But now, the tax code occupants for which those lines were saved, have been added. The official 2012 Form 1040 adjusted gross income section looks, as of Jan. 10, like this:

1040 adjusted gross income after Click image for a larger view.

The educator expenses is back on line 23 and line 34 is again home to the tuition and fees deduction.

I know that in past years when Congress didn't do its job in a timely manner, the IRS simply tax returns as they were the previous year and then used the instructions to tell us to put write-off X information on line # and annotate it to that effect. Such messiness in completing forms happened most recently in the 2007 tax filing season.

Of course, that was before electronic forms and e-filing got so popular. Now it's much easier to update the forms online. But still, it's good to see the actual changes in place on the 1040.

Form 1040A, which also includes these two income adjustments, is up to date, too. That was done on Jan. 9.

So is the EZ. OK. The IRS didn't have to wait for changes to Form 1040EZ.

But the point is that all three individual tax returns now are ready for our use.

We are, however, still waiting for the 1040 and 1040A instructions. But again, having all that info online should make that easier and quicker to accomplish.

The EZ's directions were updated on Jan. 4, so I have full confidence that the other two tax returns' instruction booklets and most of the associated schedules affected by the fiscal cliff bill are well along in the updating process.

And I'm very hopeful that all will be done in plenty of time so that we (and/or our tax preparers and the tax software manufacturers) can get our returns ready for Jan. 30 when the IRS will accept them.

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