Changes impacting your taxes and this year's refund from Uncle Sam

Woman handing out money

(ARA) — In the way of tax legislation, 2011 was a relatively quiet year. However, that doesn't mean there aren't tax law changes that will affect this year's tax returns.

"The changes enacted at the end of 2010 will still impact this year's and next year's federal tax returns," says TaxACT spokesperson, Jessi Dolmage. "With the debate over the federal budget and taxes unlikely to end any time soon, who knows if the soon-to-be expired tax breaks will be extended. So, take advantage of all your benefits while you still can."

Three out of four taxpayers receive a federal refund, and last year's average refund totaled $2,805. To help you maximize your refund, here are some tax law changes you should know about before filing this year's return.

With so much of your hard-earned money at stake and our complex tax law, it's no wonder a growing number of Americans use tax preparation solutions. "Trusted solutions like TaxACT navigate all the tax law changes for you to help maximize your refund, file a return that's 100 percent accurate and provide help when you need it," says Dolmage.

When choosing a tax preparation solution, especially free products, Dolmage warns you to carefully weigh your options. "TaxACT Free Federal Edition covers all 1040 returns, but other free programs are only for 1040EZ returns, sometimes referred to as 'simple returns'. The nearly nine out of 10 taxpayers who have more complex returns don't qualify for those."

For information about these and other tax law changes affecting this year's tax return, visit www.irs.gov and www.taxact.com/taxinfo. Learn more about TaxACT Free Federal Edition for both simple and complex returns at www.taxact.com.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

January 1 Everyone
Federal Holiday (New Year's Day) - Details

January 12Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during December, report them to your employer - Details

January 12Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the first 15 days of December 2014.

January 14Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the last 16 days of December 2014.

January 15Individuals
Make a payment of your estimated tax for 2014 if you did not pay your income tax for the year through withholding (or did not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES - Details

January 15 Farmers & fishermen
Pay your estimated tax for 2014 using Form 1040-ES - Details

January 15 Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in December 2014

January 15 Nonpayroll withholding.
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in December 2014.

January 20 Everyone
Federal Holiday (Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr./Inauguration Day) - Details

January 27 Communications and air transportation taxes under the alternative method.
Deposit the tax included in amounts billed or tickets sold during the last 16 days of December 2014.

January 29 — Regular method taxes
Deposit the tax for the first 15 days of January.

View More Tax Dates