The Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) will begin accepting 2016 state individual income tax returns on Monday, January 23, the same date that the IRS begins accepting federal returns.
On that date, LDR will begin accepting returns filed electronically at www.revenue.louisiana.gov/fileonline and through third-party commercial software, along with paper returns submitted in person and through the mail.
Also on January 23, taxpayers can begin downloading paper tax forms from the LDR website, but all taxpayers are encouraged to file electronically for the fastest, most error-free return processing.
The state individual income tax filing deadline is Monday, May 15.
LDR begins this tax season with a focus on protecting taxpayers and state government against fraud.
Over the past three years, LDR has saved taxpayers more than $50 million through its tax fraud prevention initiative, with millions more recovered through restitution. Dozens of fraud suspects have been arrested.
The enhanced security measures in place to detect and stop fraud have increased the time it takes to process tax refunds. For returns filed electronically, refund processing could take as long as 60 days in some cases. Some taxpayers filing paper returns could wait as long as 14 weeks for their refunds.
Additional and unnecessary refund delays can be expected if taxpayers fail to keep their most current contact information on file with LDR, including name, address and telephone number. Taxpayers who have moved in the past year, including those displaced by the 2016 floods, should visit www.revenue.louisiana.gov/addresschange.
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 60 days; for paper returns, expect to wait 12 to 14 weeks.
- Taxpayers should update personal information if their name or address 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 electronically no later than theMay 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 for ensuring a proper return filed by a reputable tax preparer:
- 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.