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BATON ROUGE - As the April 15 deadline approaches for filing federal individual income tax returns, Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary Cynthia Bridges is urging taxpayers to file their state returns electronically in order to receive any refund due in the fastest possible time.
"Although the deadline for filing state income tax returns is May 15, there is an enormous peak in the filing of state returns during the two weeks prior to the April 15 federal deadline," Bridges says. This occurs because most taxpayers file their state return at the same time as their federal return. "Refunds from electronically filed returns are now taking only 6-8 days," she points out. "Refunds from the traditional paper returns may take up to three weeks, and this could grow even longer as the May 15 state filing deadline approaches." Bridges adds that there is still an advantage to electronic filing even if you owe additional tax because the electronic programs calculate all tax figures, thereby eliminating common math errors. Bridges also notes that taxpayers owing additional tax can electronically file their state return and pay the additional tax at any time up to the deadline of May 15.
Bridges says several electronic filing options are available. These include electronic filing through a paid tax professional, TeleFile, on-line filing, and filing through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). TeleFile gives taxpayers the option to file their state return using a touch-tone telephone. "To use TeleFile, taxpayers must be pre-qualified by the Department," Bridges points out. Pre-qualified taxpayers were mailed special TeleFile booklets in January that contain a Personal Identification Number (PIN) for security purposes and instructions for filing. Bridges says anyone who wishes to TeleFile, but did not receive a TeleFile booklet should call the Department toll-free at 1-888-829-3071 to see if they qualify. Those who do qualify will be mailed a TeleFile booklet and a PIN.
"Free Internet filing of the state return from the Department''s web page is a new option this year," Bridges says. "Anyone with access to a personal computer can go to www.rev.state.la.us and file their state return free of charge." She points out that federal returns cannot be filed through this new option, but as in past 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.
Under the VITA program, filers of the federal form 1040EZ and federal form 1040A can make an appointment at any office of the Department to receive free tax preparation assistance with both their federal and state returns. "The Department will also file the returns electronically, free of charge," Bridges points out. To make VITA appointments, taxpayers should 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, 985-447-0976.
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