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Tax filing season is on. (Thanks, Congress.)

(Photo from Flickr used under Creative Commons license from user 401 (K 2012)
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Disaster averted. Despite concerns that late action from Congress could push back the start of the filing season, tax returns — and tax refunds — should be collected on time next year.

The Internal Revenue Service will begin accepting tax returns on Jan. 20 as scheduled, the agency said Monday.

Just in time to avoid major delays for the upcoming filing season, lawmakers renewed a slew of temporary tax breaks — benefiting businesses and individuals — that had expired at the end of 2013, the IRS said.

“We have reviewed the late tax law changes and determined there was nothing preventing us from continuing our updating and testing of our systems,” IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a statement.

The 54 tax breaks were renewed retroactively through the end of this year, making it possible for people to claim them on their 2014 tax returns. The list included popular tax credits and deductions, such as the state and local sales tax deduction, the tuition and fees deduction and the educator expense deduction.

IRS officials, tax preparers and accountants had been waiting on Congress to take action so that they could update the software and forms needed for tax filing.

In the past, last-minute tax deals reached as late as January have pushed back the start of the filing season and delayed the processing of popular tax forms. For taxpayers, the delays have led to longer waits for refunds, with no break on timeline for making payments, because taxes are almost always due April 15.

Usually, such last-minute action from Congress is needed every two years or so. But because the tax breaks will expire again Jan. 1, taxpayers could face uncertainty again at the end of 2015.

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