WASHINGTON — Pity the poor letter carriers. Just as they empty their mail bags of holiday greeting cards and packages, Uncle Sam is about to fill their sacks with income tax forms.
The Internal Revenue Service said Monday that more than 107 million federal income tax packages are due to go in the mail starting Saturday, but some may be sent earlier.
But the IRS added that many letter carriers will find their loads lighter later in the year. It expects that 14 million taxpayers will meet the April 15 filing deadline by using tax preparers who return forms electronically, rather than by mail. That's 3 million more than last year.
Still, it will cost the IRS about $19 million in postage to deliver the forms and another $12 million to print them. That's an average cost of 30 cents a package.
Most taxpayers should receive their Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ by the end of this week or the first part of next week, although a few may get them earlier, thanks to local postmasters who jump the gun.
Earlier this month, the IRS mailed more than 11 million postcards to farmers and self-employed taxpayers who used a paid preparer last year.
Taxpayers will find few changes in their forms this year, although there are some significant differences in computing some of their taxes.
The personal exemption has been raised by $150, to $2,300 for most taxpayers, their spouses and children. However, high income earners may have to reduce their exemptions if their adjusted gross income exceeds a certain amount.
The standard deduction for people who do not itemize also has been raised. For a single taxpayer, it's now $3,600, up from $3,400 last year; for heads of households, it's $5,250, up from $5,000.
The standard deduction for a married couple filing jointly has been raised to $6,000 from $5,700, while the deduction for a married couple filing separately now is $3,000, up from $2,850 last year.
Once again, people who itemize will not be permitted to include most interest payments on personal debt, such as credit card borrowing and auto loans. Home mortgage interest continues to be deductible, however.