While it’s always important to ensure that your tax forms and tax preparation packages are up to date prior to you submitting this, this year it is especially important. In the eleventh hour, Congress extended some of the tax breaks  that were set to expire including lucrative ones regarding deducting sales tax and education related breaks. The issue this year is that the IRS originally printed the forms on November 7th, prior to these extensions being approved, and many folks received software packages in the mail as part of promotional mailings. Personally, I know that TaxCut  sent me something in the mail (twice actually) where they were giving you the software in hopes you’d install it, prepare your taxes, and pay them for it. While I’m sure some software packages do phone home to check for updates, sometimes folks prepare taxes without being connected to the Internet so it’s important do check for these updates. (If you prepare your taxes through online sites like TurboTax Online , you won’t have deal with updates since it’ll always be up to date)
Here are the update news pages for each of the major tax preparation software packages:
- TaxCut Update Page  – Next available update will be 1/4/07 for Federal forms.
- TurboTax Update Instructions  – You can manually update TurboTax or you can set it for auto-update (instructions ).
- TaxAct Update FAQ Instructions  – Explains three ways to update your copy of TaxAct , I’d recommend doing the first one and updating via the application itself.
As for the pencil and paper folks, if this isn’t another reason to go with the software, I don’t know what is. As for checking whether your form is up to date, I recommend that you don’t download any forms until March and you’ll likely have the most up to date forms. I wouldn’t pick up the forms from the Post Office, I’d just download and print out ones from IRS.gov to be absolutely sure.
Update: IRS has issued some guidance with regards to the recent tax laws .