WASHINGTON - Some taxpayers will be unable to file returns until mid-to-late February because of recent tax breaks approved by Congress in its lame-duck session, the IRS said Thursday.

Congress approved tax breaks for higher education tuition, state and local sales taxes, and out-of-pocket expenses for teachers in kindergarten through high school.

The IRS will need the extra time to reprogram its computers, but the delays will be minimal for taxpayers who itemize deductions and normally have to wait for financial documents.

"The majority of taxpayers will be able to fill out their tax returns and file them as they normally do," said IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman. "We will do everything we can to minimize the impact of recent tax law changes on other taxpayers. The IRS will work through the holidays and into the New Year to get our systems reprogrammed and ensure taxpayers have a smooth tax season."

The IRS will announce a specific date when it can start processing tax returns affected by the changes.

The changes in tax law affect:

Itemized deductions for state and local sales taxes, which primarily benefit people living in areas without state and local income taxes. Taxpayers cannot complete their Schedule A itemized deductions until this tax break is restored in IRS computers.

A new higher education tuition and fees deduction for parents and students, covering up to $4,000 paid to a postsecondary institution. There will be no delays, however, for parents and students who claim existing education credits.

The expense deduction, for educators with out-of-pocket classroom expenses of up to $250.