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BATON ROUGE - As the deadline for filing individual income tax returns approaches, Louisiana Department of Revenue Secretary Brett Crawford is urging taxpayers to file electronically in order to avoid delays of up to eight weeks in receiving a refund.
"If a taxpayer files electronically, they will get their refund in 6-8 days," Crawford states. "If they file a paper return, they can expect a delay of 6-8 weeks before receiving their refund. The method of filing chosen by the taxpayer can mean a difference of up to seven weeks."
Crawford points out that the two weeks prior to the April 17 federal filing deadline is an enormous peak in the filing of state income tax returns. "Even though May 15 is the deadline for filing a state return, we receive a tremendous number of returns in early April because most taxpayers file their state return at the same time as the federal return."
Besides electronic filing, Crawford says that other alternative methods of filing will also speed refunds. These include TeleFile and On-Line filing. TeleFile allows a taxpayer to file their return by using a touch-tone telephone. Crawford points out that taxpayers can only TeleFile if they were pre-qualified by the Department of Revenue and mailed a special TeleFile booklet that includes a Personal Identification Number (PIN). On average, TeleFile takes only nine minutes and refunds are received in 6-8 days.
Through On-Line filing, taxpayers can file their return from a personal computer using Department-approved commercial software. Refunds received through this filing method also average 6-8 days, Crawford says.
"This year, if taxpayers want their refund up to seven weeks sooner," Crawford says, "alternative filing is the way to go. Our goal is to move more and more towards a paperless environment. We may never totally eliminate paper filing of individual income tax, but the closer we can get to that goal, the better off both the taxpayer and the state will be."
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