Right now we're in the middle of 2017 and I'm trying to plan out different aspects of my tax liability that will be due next April. However, as much as I try to search online, it looks like the 2017 Tax Forms are simply not available. I understand that I could probably use the 2016 forms as a good estimate, but I would prefer to be exact.

Is there a specific time that we can expect the 2017 Forms to be released by? Will it be before the end of this year?

  • Why do you need the forms for planning? Which parts do you think might change such that you'd have to adjust your plan?
    – quid
    Aug 17, 2017 at 1:52
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    They are not all finalized until sometime in q1 of 2018. Most are ready by 1/1 but lately it seems to be late Jan with some forms being delayed as late as feb/march. IIRC
    – Eric
    Aug 17, 2017 at 4:14
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    They really can't be available, since Congress can change the tax laws at any time before the end of the year. And indeed, if news reports are to be believed, would like to do so if they can ever get their act together :-(
    – jamesqf
    Aug 17, 2017 at 4:14
  • @quid In my case I am aiming to tweak my AGI to be eligible for some credits. But I think this question can apply to many different applications.
    – yydl
    Aug 18, 2017 at 22:14

1 Answer 1


It's not quite as bad as the comments indicate.

Form 1040ES has been available since January (and IME has been similarly for all past years). It mostly uses the prior year (currently 2016) as the basis, but it does have the updated (2017) figures for items that are automatically adjusted for inflation: bracket points (and thus filing threshhold), standard deductions, Social Security cap, and maybe another one or two I missed.

The forms making up the actual return cannot be prepared very far in advance because, as commented, Congress frequently makes changes to tax law well after the year begins, and in some cases right up to Dec. 31. The IRS must start preparing forms and pubs -- and equally important, setting the specifications for software providers like Intuit (TurboTax) and H&RBlock -- several months ahead in order to not seriously delay filing season, and with it refunds, which nearly everyone in the country considers (at least publicly) to be worse than World War Three and the destruction of the Earth by rogue asteroids. I have 1040 series from the last 4 years still on my computer, and the download dates mostly range from late September to mid January. Although one outlier shows the range of possibility: 2013 form 1040 and Schedule A were tweaked in April 2014 because Congress passed a law allowing charitable contributions for Typhoon Haiyan to be deducted in the prior year.

Substantive, but relatively minor, changes happen every year, including many that keep recurring like the special (pre-AGI) teacher supplies deduction ("will they or won't they?"), section 179 expensing (changes slightly almost every year), and formerly the IRA-direct-to-charity option (finally made permanent last year).

As commented, the current Congress and President were elected on a platform with tax reform as an important element, and they are talking even more intensely than before about doing it, although whether they will actually do anything this year is still uncertain. However, if major reform is done it will almost certainly apply to future years only, and likely only start after a lag of some months to a year. They know it causes chaos for businesses and households alike to upend without advance warning the assumptions built in to current budgets and plans -- and IME as a political matter something that is enacted now and effective fairly soon but not now is just as good (but I think that part is offtopic).

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