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Don't overlook these 2012 tax breaks

Education tax credit claims to be processed beginning Feb. 14

The Internal Revenue Service has a Valentine present for folks claiming an education tax credit.

Tax forms by MoneyBlogNewz via Flickr Creative CommonsThe agency has announced that on Thursday, Feb. 14, it will start processing 2012 returns that contain Form 8863, Education Credits.

This form is used to claim two higher education credits, the American Opportunity tax credit and the Lifetime Learning tax credit.

The American Opportunity credit, you might recall, was set to expire at the end of 2012. But it was given new life as part of the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, aka ATRA or the fiscal cliff bill. This education credit, which expanded and, for now, replaces the Hope credit, is available through the 2017 tax year.

The American Opportunity could provide eligible taxpayers savings of up to $2,500 per student for undergraduate expenses.

The Lifetime Learning credit, true to its name, can be claimed for educational expenses beyond the first four years of college. The tax savings here could be as much as $2,000 per tax return.

Which credit is best for you or the students in your family? Check out the benefits of each in this education tax credits comparison table.

Depreciation done, too: Form 8863 isn't the only ready-to-file present the IRS has for taxpayers.

The IRS will begin processing returns that contain Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization, on Sunday, Feb. 10.

The IRS says that most of the people who use the depreciation form tend to file later in the tax season or obtain a six-month extension. Still, if you're ready to file and need it, the IRS will start working on the returns with 4562 attached this weekend.

These forms affected the largest groups of taxpayers who weren't able to file following the delayed Jan. 30 opening of the 2013 tax season, according to the IRS. By getting the forms ready, the agency says that now almost all taxpayers will be able to file by next week.

Two down, 29 to go: So who's still stuck waiting for form and computer system updates?

With the 8863 and 4562 forms moved to the "accepting" side of the tax filing ledger, that leaves taxpayers who need one or more of 29 forms affected by ATRA provisions still waiting.

The forms still on the IRS' to-do list are:

  1. Form 3800, General Business Credit
  2. Form 4136, Credit for Federal Tax Paid on Fuels
  3. Form 5074 Allocation of Individual Income Tax to Guam or the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands
  4. Form 5471, Information Return of U.S. Persons With Respect to Certain Foreign Corporations
  5. Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits
  6. Form 5735, American Samoa Economic Development Credit 
  7. Form 5884, Work Opportunity Credit
  8. Form 6478, Credit for Alcohol Used as Fuel
  9. Form 6765, Credit for Increasing Research Activities
  10. Form 8396, Mortgage Interest Credit
  11. Form 8582, Passive Activity Loss Limitations
  12. Form 8820, Orphan Drug Credit
  13. Form 8834, Qualified Plug-in Electric and Electric Vehicle Credit
  14. Form 8839, Qualified Adoption Expenses
  15. Form 8844, Empowerment Zone and Renewal Community Employment Credit
  16. Form 8845, Indian Employment Credit
  17. Form 8859, District of Columbia First-Time Homebuyer Credit
  18. Form 8864, Biodiesel and Renewable Diesel Fuels Credit
  19. Form 8874, New Markets Credits
  20. Form 8900, Qualified Railroad Track Maintenance Credit
  21. Form 8903, Domestic Production Activities Deduction
  22. Form 8908, Energy Efficient Home Credit
  23. Form 8909, Energy Efficient Appliance Credit
  24. Form 8910, Alternative Motor Vehicle Credit
  25. Form 8911, Alternative Fuel Vehicle Refueling Property Credit
  26. Form 8912, Credit to Holders of Tax Credit Bonds
  27. Form 8923, Mine Rescue Team Training Credit
  28. Form 8932, Credit for Employer Differential Wage Payments
  29. Form 8936, Qualified Plug-in Electric Drive Motor Vehicle Credit 

The IRS says it's aiming to be ready to handle these 29 forms (down from the 31 on the original to-be-updated list) by the first week of March.

Specific dates for specific forms will be announced as the updates to the documents and computer system reprogramming and testing is completed.

Keep your fingers crossed that the form you need will be one of those that the IRS finishes up sooner rather than later.

Tax form photo courtesy MoneyBlogNews/Flickr

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