(UNDATED) -The Indiana Department of Revenue (DOR) will start accepting filings for the 2021 individual income tax season on February 12, 2021, in concert with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Individuals have until April 15, 2021, to file both their state and federal income tax returns and pay any taxes owed.
“Ensuring you have everything you need to file an accurate return is critical,” advised DOR Commissioner Bob Grennes. “DOR customers are strongly encouraged to file their returns after they have all necessary documentation, and then utilize electronic-filing. Electronically filing is a superior filing process allowing customers to securely submit a more accurate return and experience a faster turnaround on their refund.”
Before submitting a return, ensure all information is accurate and complete. Below is a quick checklist to help customers avoid common filing mistakes that cause delays in processing time.
- First, check to ensure the return submitted is correct and current or a DOR certified online vendor is used. Most tax forms change every year as a result of legislation or policy updates, therefore, using outdated forms or non-certified software will delay return processing.
- Second, check to ensure everything within the return is complete and a signature is included where required.
- Next, provide all necessary documentation with the return. Do not staple or paperclip any documentation or checks to the return if sending in a paper copy.
- Finish by sending in all materials to the right location—Indiana state returns go to DOR and federal returns to the IRS.
- The filing is now complete. Remember, there is no need to send in a paper copy of an electronic filing (and vice versa).
File electronically for free with INfreefile. More than two million Hoosiers may qualify to file both their federal and state taxes online for free from trusted vendors with the Indiana free file program (INfreefile). A list of DOR-certified vendors and qualifications can be found at freefile.dor.in.gov. INfreefile customers typically receive their refund in less than two weeks if filing electronically and opting for direct deposit.
Understand how extensions work. Customers have until April 15 to file their 2020 tax return and pay 2020 taxes due. However, customers can file an extension directly with DOR or with the IRS. If the IRS extension is granted, the Indiana extension is automatically granted. A timely filed extension moves the federal tax filing deadline to October 15, 2021, and the Indiana filing deadline to November 15, 2021.
It is important to note the extension only shifts the filing deadline and not the payment deadline. Ninety percent of the taxes owed are still required to be paid by April 15, 2021, to avoid penalties and interest.
Here are 15 helpful tips to ensure your tax filing is done quickly and correctly.
- Use the correct forms. Incorrect or outdated forms submitted may cause delays or be sent back.
- Always file state taxes, even if you are under the threshold or don’t expect a refund.
- Don’t file your taxes until you have all your income statements and appropriate documentation.
- File your taxes electronically, if possible, as this process is faster and more accurate.
- Check to ensure your return is complete and correct. Write clearly and use blue or black ink.
- If you claimed certain deductions or credits be sure to include all required and supporting documentation.
- Make and save copies of all relevant paperwork submitted, in case you need to reference them later.
- Be sure to send state returns to DOR. Federal returns go to the IRS.
- Don’t duplicate your filing. Filing more than once causes further delay in the refund process.
- If you receive any correspondence from DOR, please respond accordingly and quickly.
- Do NOT staple checks or returns.
- Make sure all state returns are sent to the correct P.O. Box. Mail is processed by P.O. Box from April – June with the top priority being individual tax returns.
- If paying by check, include the liability number or tax period on the check. For personal checks submitted for businesses, including the business name on the check.
- Be sure to attach all W-2’s and 1099s to your return.
- Be sure to sign the return.
If you would rather find a paid professional to help navigate tax season. There are many tax professionals that will provide quality advice and service. However, the Department of Revenue suggests you do some research to make sure you are confident that the preparer you choose is right for you.
A few tips:
- Ask the preparer for references and double check their professional credentials. Or ask your family and friends for suggestions.
- Check for potential complaints with the Better Business Bureau, the state’s board of accountancy for CPAs or the state’s bar association for attorneys.
- Research a preparer to see if they belong to a professional organization that holds members accountable to a code of ethics and requires members to pursue continuing education.
- Ask if the preparer has a valid Preparer Tax Identification Number (PTIN) from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), which has been required to file federal tax returns since 2011.
- Avoid preparers who make overly optimistic claims about obtaining a larger refund over other preparers, especially if they have not fully reviewed your tax documents.
- Take time to review all documents and ask questions before signing the return.
- Avoid tax preparers who ask you to sign blank tax forms.
- Use a tax professional who provides a copy of the completed return to you for your records.
- Confirm the preparer’s service fee before the return is prepared. Avoid preparers who base their fee on the expected refund amount.
Remember, the person who signs the tax return is legally responsible for what is included, even if the return is prepared or completed by a third-party. So, it is important to find a qualified tax professional.