You’ve probably been following the recent federal tax law changes to determine how they’ll affect your small business. Whatever the financial impact, the IRS recently announced that it won’t start accepting 2012 Form 1040 returns until Jan. 30 — a week later than expected. However, if you plan to claim any general business credits, property depreciation, or other deductions requiring one of these forms, Uncle Sam won’t accept or begin processing your return until at least late February — although no firm date has been given for when small business tax returns will begin to be accepted.
The delays for accepting business and individual returns were caused by late-breaking changes to the American Tax Relief Act of 2012, which was finally passed by Congress on Jan. 1 and signed by President Obama on Jan. 2, 2013. These changes require the IRS to update all of its forms, instructions, and filing programs.
The later filing and processing dates may result in more uncertainty over cash flows for longer than you’re accustomed to. Bear this in mind if you are still trying to finalize your 2013 budget. You also may need to keep your 2012 books open longer than a typical year due to the tax delay.
Shauna Wekherlien, CPA and owner of Tax Goddess Business Services in Scottsdale, Ariz., recommends that small businesses develop a plan for dealing with the delay now.
“I suggest that you don’t wait to get your taxes prepared until the IRS is ready. Have everything ready to file, and then when they are ready you can submit,” Wekherlien says. “This strategy allows you to know your final numbers — what you will owe in tax — as soon as possible, and you can start planning to collect that tax for payment.” Software like TurboTax Business can also be a big help: Even though you can’t actually file your return now, knowing what the damage is going to be early can help you start to think about the year ahead.