If you will be filing financial aid paperwork for a family member who is in college, the schedule you follow during tax filing season might have to be changed.

Unfortunately, this is a year in there is a tighter crunch than usual between certain forms and returns will be accepted, and when college financial aid needs to be filed. Pay attention to the details listed and linked here:

Tuesday Jan. 1

The filing season started for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, which is the starting process for many college financial aid programs such as Pell grants, work study and some scholarships.

Friday Jan. 25

Earned Income Tax Credit Awareness Day - a campaign meant to explain to low-income workers how and why to file their returns so that they get a special tax credit. An explanation of the tax credit:

EITC is for workers whose income does not exceed the following limits:

$45,060 ($50,270 married filing jointly ) with three or more qualifying children

$41,952 ($47,162 married filing jointly) with two qualifying children

$36,920 ($42,130 married filing jointly) with one qualifying child$13,980 ($19,190 married filing jointly) with no qualifying children

Investment income must be $3,200 or less. And, children must meet certain relationship and residency requirements to be a qualifying child.

Wednesday Jan. 30

Tax filing season officially starts, according to this announcement from the Internal Revenue Service. Do note this is later than the previously expected Jan. 22 date:

Following the January tax law changes made by Congress under the American Taxpayer Relief Act (ATRA), the Internal Revenue Service announced today it plans to open the 2013 filing season and begin processing individual income tax returns on Jan. 30.

The IRS will begin accepting tax returns on that date after updating forms and completing programming and testing of its processing systems. This will reflect the bulk of the late tax law changes enacted Jan. 2. The announcement means that the vast majority of tax filers — more than 120 million households — should be able to start filing tax returns starting Jan 30.

If your paperwork is ready to file before then, the IRS has this information:

Many major software providers are accepting tax returns in advance of the Jan. 30 processing date. These software providers will hold onto the returns and then electronically submit them after the IRS systems open. If you use commercial software, check with your provider for specific instructions about when they will accept your return. Software companies and tax professionals send returns to the IRS, but the timing of the refunds is determined by IRS processing, which starts Jan. 30.

The “Where’s My Refund?” database on IRS.gov also will be available as of Jan. 30.

Thursday Jan. 31

Employers are to have the W-2 forms to employees by this date, per IRS guidelines.

Sunday Feb. 10

College Goal Sunday workshops take place across the nation to help families with college-bound students get the Free Application for Federal Student Aid filed. There is no charge for this service, and computers will be available.

The local workshop is 2 to 4 p.m. Feb. 10 at Monroe County Community College, and it is open to anyone in Monroe County even if the student will attend college elsewhere.

The list of items you need to bring to that workshop include W-2 forms and tax returns for 2012. If you do not have completed tax returns ready when you are filing for college financial aid, the FAFSA site has the following instructions:

If you haven’t done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, it’s okay to estimate the amounts. You might want to base your estimates on last year’s tax return. After you file your taxes, you’ll need to log back in to the FAFSA and correct any estimated information that was wrong.

Late February / early March

There are specific credits and forms that the IRS will not be able to accept until late February or early March. The exact date has not been posted. The list of delayed line items, however, is here and includes the Work Opportunity Credit and the Mortgage Interest Credit.

Friday March 1

This is the deadline for Michigan residents to file the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, if they hope to be eligible for as many college grant and scholarship programs as possible. Individual colleges may have even earlier filing deadlines.

If you do not have completed tax returns ready when you are filing for financial aid, the FAFSA site has the following instructions:

If you haven’t done your taxes by the time you fill out your FAFSA, it’s okay to estimate the amounts. You might want to base your estimates on last year’s tax return. After you file your taxes, you’ll need to log back in to the FAFSA and correct any estimated information that was wrong.

Monday April 15

The filing deadline for 2012 tax season is Monday April 15.

This post will be updated throughout the season.

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