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In the News: After the Super Bowl, Tax Season Kicks Off

KickoffThe IRS has been accepting tax returns electronically and by mail since Jan. 30, but this Monday marked the official start of tax season, which is defined, for my purposes, as the day after the Super Bowl.

That means that for the next few months, as CPAs around the country are working with their clients to ensure that their returns are submitted correctly and on time, reporters and bloggers will be looking to provide their audiences with articles about all things tax. Therefore, I will be highlighting some more tax content of interest in my bi-weekly ‘in the news’ post. The circle of life, if you will.

The internet, mobile technology and cloud computing is changing the way that people do business. I could be writing this blog post from my desk at the AICPA office, from a conference in Orlando or from my living room. And I wouldn’t be alone. In fact, last October the US Census Bureau estimated that more than 13 million Americans were making some type of business use of their homes. However, during the same year, the IRS says “only” 3.4 million taxpayers filed for the home office deduction.

Moving forward you may see more people claiming that deduction. The Boston Herald, among other publications, reported that the IRS has made it easier for the millions of homeowners and renters to claim deductions for business use of their home.

Rather than the complicated 43-line form you have to fill out to claim a write-off in 2012 or earlier, the IRS will now offer taxpayers an alternative “safe harbor” method that allows filers to measure the square footage of your business space and apply for a deduction. The new IRS option, which will be available for 2013 and beyond (starting with returns filed in 2014), allows owners and employees who work from home to deduct $5 per square foot of home office space per year, up to a maximum allowable space of 300 square feet, totaling $1,500 per year.

Abe Schneier, senior technical manager for taxation at the AICPA, says it should be a money-saver for small-scale enterprises and start-ups. “Anybody who’s going to start a new business working from home will probably find this a great advantage,” he said in an interview. Even though the paperwork burden will be reduced, taxpayers should keep in mind that the basic rules for the deduction still apply, Schneier told MarketWatch. “You don’t want to have a rollaway couch or a foosball table in the room so it looks more like a den. It should clearly be an office space.”

AccountingWEB covered the Jan. 28 announcement from the IRS that it won't accept returns for processing that include 31 tax forms used to claim credits and deductions until mid-February, or two weeks after the 2013 filing season opened. The delay is a result of Congress not having approved tax law changes under the American Taxpayer Relief Act until Jan. 2. That caused the IRS to push back the opening of tax filing system to Jan. 30 and required changes to certain subsidiary tax forms along with its return-processing system. The full list of forms is available in the AccountingWEB article.

, AICPA Staff.

Mark Herreid / Shutterstock.com

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