Louisiana taxpayers have choices for state income tax refunds

BATON ROUGE – Louisiana taxpayers can choose between three methods of payment for state income tax refunds. 

Taxpayers who file their state income taxes electronically can select direct deposit, a paper check, or the Louisiana MyRefund Card, a pre-loaded debit card that can be used to withdraw cash at ATMs or bank teller windows, shop and pay bills online, or make purchases and get cash back at retail registers.

New to the paper state income tax return (Form IT-540) this year is the option of selecting a paper check for your refund, in addition to the MyRefund Card.  Taxpayers who do not select a refund method on the paper form will receive the debit card.

The Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) encourages electronic filing for all income tax returns.  It is the method that provides the fastest processing time for refunds.  Electronic filers receive their refunds within an average of ten business days.  Paper filers can expect to wait at least three months.  Electronic filing options include commercially-available tax preparation software and Louisiana File Online, the state’s free tax filing web application.  Visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/fileonline.

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Your Money, Your Choice

If you’re expecting a state income tax refund, you can choose direct deposit, a paper check, or the Louisiana MyRefund Card.

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Millions in income tax refunds headed for Unclaimed Property unless taxpayers take action

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BATON ROUGE – Millions of dollars in state income tax refunds will become unclaimed property if taxpayers don’t claim them by August 24, 2012.

The Louisiana Department of Revenue issued letters to 7,462 taxpayers advising them to claim their refunds by August 24, or the funds will revert to the Unclaimed Property Division of the state treasurer’s office.  The total amount of unclaimed refunds is $4,439,963.38.

The advisory involves un-cashed state income tax refund checks dated June 30, 2011, or before, in the amount $50 or more.  These checks are no longer valid.  Taxpayers who want to claim these refunds before they revert to Unclaimed Property must submit a voucher to request a replacement.  The voucher accompanies the letters alerting taxpayers to the August 24 deadline.

If they miss the LDR deadline, taxpayers can claim their refunds from the state treasurer’s Unclaimed Property Division.

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Check state income tax refund status online

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) encourages taxpayers to go online to check the status of their state individual income tax refunds.  The Where’s My Refund webpage is www.revenue.louisiana.gov/refund

“With Where’s My Refund, you have an instant answer about your refund,” said Secretary of Revenue Cynthia Bridges. “Just enter some basic information, such as your Social Security number and your filing status.”

Where’s My Refund is especially helpful to taxpayers during tax filing season due to extremely high call volume, Bridges said.

“It’s much faster than waiting for a customer service representative.”

If you filed your taxes electronically, information on your refund should be available in 7-10 business days.  If you filed a paper return, please allow 12 to 16 weeks before checking on the status of your refund.

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Top tip for faster tax refunds: file electronically

BATON ROUGE – The Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) encourages all taxpayers to file electronically when they submit their 2011 state individual income tax returns.

“Electronic filing is the best way to ensure error-free returns and speedy income tax refunds,” said Secretary of Revenue Cynthia Bridges.

LDR began accepting 2011 Louisiana Individual Income Tax Returns on January 17.  The state filing deadline is May 15.

In addition to electronic filing, a careful review of your tax return can help to avoid unnecessary delays.  Many refunds are delayed because of common errors and omissions. 

Steps to avoid delayed refunds include:

  • File electronically.  The average processing time for refunds is ten business days when using electronic options such as Louisiana File Online, the state’s free tax filing web application.  For paper returns, the processing time is 12 to 16 weeks.  Visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/fileonline.
  • Double check the accuracy of your return.  Ensure that all Social Security numbers and tax computations are correct.  Math errors and incorrect tax table information are leading causes of delayed refunds.
  • Include all supporting documentation such as W-2s.  Use paperclips, not staples, if filing a paper return.
  • Don’t forget to sign the return.
  • Update your mailing address with the United States Postal Service and the Louisiana Department of Revenue.
  • For paper returns, be sure to attach the proper label to the mailing envelope.

To avoid the potential for late fees and other penalties, taxpayers needing additional time to file must request filing extensions in a timely manner.  This year’s deadline for a state filing extension request is May 15, 2012.  Visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/extensions.

If a tax payment is due, include the remittance coupon with paper returns to ensure proper posting.  Make checks or money orders payable to the Louisiana Department of Revenue.  Do not send cash. 

Do not include copies of the federal return with the state return.

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IRS holding $20 million in refunds for Louisiana taxpayers, window to claim it closes April 18

The IRS owes more than $20 million to nearly 20,000 Louisiana taxpayers who failed to file federal tax returns for the 2007 tax year.  The average refund amount due Louisiana residents is more than $600. 

The money owed to Louisiana taxpayers is part of more than $1 billion owed to taxpayers nationwide.

“Some people may not have filed because they had too little income to require filing a tax return even though they had taxes withheld from their wages or made quarterly estimated payments,” the IRS announced in a press release.  “In cases where a return was not filed, the law provides most taxpayers with a three-year window of opportunity for claiming a refund. If no return is filed to claim a refund within three years, the money becomes property of the U.S. Treasury.”

The IRS says it owes $20,327,000 to 19,500 Louisiana taxpayers who failed to file 2007 federal returns.  The three-year window means these taxpayers have until April 18, 2011, to file those returns and claim their refunds.

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‘Louisiana tax refunds timely while delays plague other states’

While some cash-strapped states are delaying their residents’ income tax refunds, Louisiana taxpayers are receiving their refunds back at a faster pace than ever.

This report from the New Orleans Times-Picayune explains that Louisiana File Online, LDR’s electronic tax filing application, gets much of the credit.

National media coverage in the past week has reported that some states are delaying tax refund checks to cope with cash-flow problems caused by the recession and declining government revenue. But Louisiana isn’t one of them. “We are not withholding or delaying refunds,” said Byron Henderson, spokesman for the Louisiana Department of Revenue. In fact, the state’s refunds are moving faster than ever, thanks in part to increased use of electronic filing of tax returns. As of Friday, the state had issued 847,739 state tax refunds to individuals and joint filers totaling $426.4 million. That’s $503 per refund on average. About 85 percent of those refunds were for people who filed electronically. For those who file directly using the department’s Louisiana File Online system, the average wait for a refund is nine days. Paper filers will wait an average of six to eight weeks. The volume for electronic filers so far this tax season is as much as 30 percent ahead of last year, Henderson said. The department is expected to process about 2 million tax returns this year. Television and newspaper reports this week have identified Alabama, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, New York and North Carolina as states holding back or considering a delay for refunds. Louisiana state tax returns are due by May 15.

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