The IRS announced the delay Monday, saying it needs to update its processing systems before it can accept Form 8863 -- which is used to claim both the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit.
The American Opportunity Tax Credit provides up to $2,500 per student each year for up to four years of college, while the Lifetime Learning Credit gives a maximum of $2,000 annually for education expenses without a limit on the number of years it can be claimed. Taxpayers can only receive one of these credits per year.
About three million tax returns claiming these credits are typically filed by mid-February, which the IRS said is about a quarter of the total returns using Form 8863 that it receives during the entire year.
For the majority of filers, however, tax season will still start this Wednesday. The agency had planned to open the tax season on Jan. 22, but the fiscal cliff debate led it to push back the official start by eight days. The IRS also previously announced that certain taxpayers -- including those claiming residential energy credits and general business credits -- will need to wait to file until late February or March.
And while these higher education credits have now been added to the list of delays, other education benefits like tuition and fees and student loan interest deductions can still be claimed starting Jan. 30.
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