Louisiana state income tax filing begins January 20, 2015

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) will begin accepting 2014 state individual income tax returns the same day as the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Tues., Jan. 20. LDR will begin processing returns on Feb. 3 and will start issuing refunds Tues., Feb. 24.

Following the initial Feb. 24 refund date, the expected refund processing time for returns filed electronically is up to 21 days. For paper returns, taxpayers should expect to wait 8 to 10 weeks.

Additionally, to safeguard taxpayers against fraudulent activity, including the suspicion of identity theft, a small percentage of refunds are delayed. When this occurs, the taxpayer is contacted through written correspondence with further instructions.

Delays can also occur when taxpayers fail to keep their most current contact information on file, including their name, address, and telephone number. If needed, taxpayers can visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov to update their contact information.

On January 20, state income tax forms will become available at www.revenue.louisiana.gov/taxforms.

To file taxes electronically, taxpayers can visit Louisiana File Online, the state’s free web portal for individual and business tax filers at www.revenue.louisiana.gov/fileonline. With Louisiana File Online, taxpayers can:

  • File returns and pay taxes electronically
  • Check the status of individual income tax refunds
  • Amend tax returns
  • View business tax information for current and previous years

There are no fees associated with its use. Taxpayers may also use commercial tax preparation software to file their state income taxes.

Taxpayers can check the status of a refund by visiting www.revenue.louisiana.gov/refund or by calling 888-829-3071. Taxpayers should note these applications are updated only once every business morning with the latest information on refunds. Taxpayers should only call LDR once their return has exceeded the expected processing times of 21 days for electronic returns and 10 weeks for paper returns.

The state income tax filing deadline is Fri., May 15, 2015.

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Tips for Taxpayers LDR recommends the following steps to ensure the fastest, most accurate tax return and refund processing:

  • File electronically – The expected refund processing time for returns filed electronically is up to 21 days; for paper returns, expect to wait 8 to 10 weeks.
  • Update your personal information if your name or address has changed during the tax year.
  • Double-check return information – Ensure that all Social Security numbers and tax computations are correct, and that all names and Social Security numbers are in the same order as previous years; math errors and incorrect tax-table information are leading causes of delayed refunds.
  • Include all supporting information such as W-2s; use paperclips, not staples, if filing a paper return.
  • Apply for extensions in a timely manner – Extension requests must be filed no later than the May 15 income tax filing deadline.
  • If additional tax is due, include the remittance coupon to ensure proper payment posting.
  • Make checks or money orders payable to the Louisiana Department of Revenue; do not send cash.
  • If filing a paper return, attach the proper label to the mailing envelope.

Basic tips to taxpayers in choosing a reputable tax preparer include:

  • Try to find a preparer who will be around to answer questions after the return has been filed.
  • Avoid preparers who base their fee on a percentage of the amount of the refund or who claim they can obtain larger refunds than other preparers without first reviewing your returns.
  • Review and ask questions before signing a return.
  • Ask others that you know who have used that preparer if they were satisfied with the services that they received.
  • Ask any preparer that you are considering for references.
  • Ask and verify if the preparer belongs to a professional organization that requires its members to pursue continuing education and also holds them accountable to a code of ethics.
  • Always question entries on your return that you don’t understand.
  • Never sign a blank return.
  • Insist that the preparer sign the return and provide his appropriate information on the return.
  • The preparer should meet with the taxpayer and go over the return before it is filed.
  • Taxpayers should be provided a copy of their return before it is filed.
  • Pay attention to media reports of persons who have been convicted of tax fraud.
  • Taxpayers should be aware that the information that they provide to their preparer could be used to commit identity theft by an unscrupulous preparer.

Taxpayers should also:

- Remember that they are ultimately responsible for what is included on their tax returns.

- Beware of telephone scams purported to come from LDR and remember that LDR will not:

  • Call a taxpayer to demand immediate payment or call about taxes owed without first having mailed a bill.
  • Demand the payment of taxes without allowing the taxpayer to question or appeal the amount owed.
  • Require the use of a specific method of payment.
  • Ask for credit or debit card numbers over the telephone.

If taxpayer feels that they are a victim of a telephone tax scam, contact:

  • LDR Criminal Investigations Division on its fraud hotline at 866.940.7053.
  • File a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) ftc.gov/complaint.

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