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Income tax time

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BATON ROUGE- The Louisiana Department of Revenue started accepting 2017 state individual income tax returns today.

The date coincides with the date the IRS begins accepting 2017 federal income tax returns. Louisiana taxpayers can begin filing their state income tax returns electronically through Louisiana File Online, the state's free web portal for individual tax filers.

Starting today, taxpayers can also begin submitting returns to the state through commercially available tax preparation software, or they can download paper tax forms from the LDR website. Updated printed forms will not be available before Jan. 29.

According to a release, 2017 Louisiana individual income tax returns are due May 15.

Tips for Taxpayers

 Steps to Insure Fast, Accurate Return & Refund Processing

 

-File electronically – The expected refund processing time for returns filed electronically is up to 60 days; for paper returns, expect to wait up 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. 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 no later than the May 15 income tax filing deadline.

-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.

 

Tips for Choosing 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 as the paid preparer of the return and provide his/her 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.

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