Press Releases

Revenue Announces New Options for Free Filing of Income Tax Returns

Free Internet Filing of the State Return and the Free Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program

January 11, 2001

BATON ROUGE - Two new options for filing state individual income tax returns are available to taxpayers this year, according to Department of Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges. The Department is offering free Internet filing of the state return from Revenue''s web page and providing free tax assistance and electronic filing through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program at all of its offices.

"Electronic filing is the key," Bridges says. "It''s quick, it''s easy, and it means faster refunds." Last year, refunds from electronically filed returns averaged 10 days or less, Bridges points out. "Refunds from paper-filed returns averaged between 22 and 45 days for the past two years." Last year, more than 368,000 returns were filed electronically by commercial tax return preparers, through the Internet, or by the free TeleFile program offered by the Department of Revenue.

"This year, the Department has added two more free options," Bridges says. "Anyone with a personal computer and Internet access can now go to our web page at http://revenue.louisiana.gov and file their state return free of charge." She adds that federal returns cannot be filed through this new option. During recent years, Revenue has maintained links from its web page to approved commercial software providers. These providers may charge a fee for their software or for electronic filing of the state and federal returns. Bridges says links to approved commercial providers will still be available from the Department''s web page for those who wish to use that option.

The new VITA option has been a pilot program between the New Orleans Regional Office and the Internal Revenue Service for the past few years. "The program has been so successful, it was expanded to all Department offices this year," Bridges says. Under the VITA program, filers of the federal form 1040EZ and federal form 1040A can make an appointment to receive free tax filing assistance from Department employees who will help them complete their federal and state tax return forms. The Department will then file the returns electronically, free of charge. "The VITA program greatly assists our older taxpayers and those with lower incomes who cannot afford to pay for tax assistance or to have their returns filed electronically," Bridges says.

The two new filing options join the Department of Revenue''s already successful free TeleFile option that allows taxpayers to file their return using a touchtone telephone. Last year, more than 65,000 taxpayers used TeleFile to file their returns in an average of 8.6 minutes. "Taxpayers must be pre-qualified by the Department to use TeleFile," Bridges points out. Pre-qualified taxpayers are mailed special TeleFile booklets that contain a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for security purposes and instructions for filing. Bridges stresses that taxpayers must meet certain requirements in order to TeleFile. "Anyone who receives a TeleFile booklet in the mail is thought to meet the requirements, based on last year''s return," Bridges says. She adds that anyone who wishes to TeleFile, but did not receive a TeleFile booklet, may go to the Department''s web page or contact any Regional Office for a list of TeleFile requirements. Taxpayers who qualify and wish to TeleFile should call the Department at 1-888-829-3071 in order to request a TeleFile booklet and a PIN.

For more information on Internet Filing, TeleFile, or to make VITA appointments, visit the Department''s web page at http://revenue.louisiana.gov, or contact any of the following offices of the Department:

Baton Rouge Main Office, 330 North Ardenwood Drive, 225-925-4611 or 225-925-7533 (TDD);
Baton Rouge Region, 8490 Picardy Avenue, Building 600, 225-763-5700;
Alexandria Region, 900 Murray Street, Room B-100, 318-487-5333;
Lafayette Region, 825 Kaliste Saloom Road, Brandywine III, Suite 150, 337-262-5455;
Lake Charles Region, One Lakeshore Drive, Suite 1550, 337-491-2504;
Monroe Region, 122 St. John Street, Room 105, 318-362-3151;
New Orleans Region, 1555 Poydras Street, Suite 900, 504-568-7778;
Shreveport Region, 1525 Fairfield Avenue, 318-676-7505;
and Thibodaux Region, 1418 Tiger Drive, 504-447-0976.