Department of Revenue Lists Tax Tips and Changes in Tax

Department of Revenue
Lists Tax Tips and Changes in Tax

Laws for Taxpayers
Preparing to File Returns

As Missourians begin to start filing their state
tax returns, the Missouri Department of Revenue has suggestions to increase the
likelihood of quicker processing of tax returns.  The Department is also
reminding citizens about new changes in tax laws that could benefit
them.

“Most people are just now beginning to receive
and organize the tax forms that they’ll need to complete their tax returns for
Tax Year 2009,” said Alana M. Barragán-Scott, director of the Missouri
Department of Revenue.  “There are a few simple steps that citizens can take
that will make it more likely that their tax returns and refunds will be
processed more quickly.”

Filing electronically helps taxpayers by
eliminating the time it takes to mail paper forms to the Department and back to
the taxpayers.  Electronically-submitted returns also have about 16 percent
fewer errors than paper returns.  Mistakes can lead to additional information
being required and slows the processing of the return.  Electronic returns can
also be submitted 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and refunds can be directly
deposited into a taxpayer’s bank account.

“Last year, the department processed 2.9 million
individual income tax returns, and 61 percent of them were filed
electronically,” Barragán-Scott said.  “On the federal level, 66 percent of U.S.
citizens filed their income tax returns electronically.  As people realize the
ease and convenience of filing electronically, I believe more citizens will
begin to submit their returns in this fashion.”

        More information about filing
electronically is available at http://dor.mo.gov/tax/personal/electronic.htm.

        Filing as early as possible also
benefits taxpayers.  A majority of citizens file their income tax returns within
the last few weeks before the April 15th deadline.  If returns are
filed earlier in the tax season, it is more likely that the return will be
processed more quickly.

        “Although the date that a tax return is
received is not the only factor in how quickly a return is processed, a return
is more likely to be handled quicker in February as compared to our extremely
busy time in April,” the director said.

        “Last year, refunds triggered by
electronic and paper returns for Tax Year 2008 were issued on average in 20
days,” Barragán-Scott continued.  “Some refunds were issued much quicker – such
as Property Tax Credit refunds which were issued on average in five days – while
other refunds took longer to distribute.  Missourians should know that all tax
returns and refunds will be processed as quickly as possible in accordance with
the resources available to the Department.”

        Barragán-Scott stated, however, that
filing early should not mean filing carelessly.  The director urged citizens to
avoid making common mistakes such as math errors and not signing the return. 
She also said that taxpayers should be sure they have all the necessary forms –
such as W-2s, bank and investment interest statements, copies of required
federal documents and various receipts – included with the return before they
remit it to the state.

        Barragán-Scott also noted that
Missourians should be aware of new tax deductions and exemptions that could
benefit them.

        One new deduction helps encourage more
energy-efficient homes.  The new home energy tax deduction allows citizens to
deduct the cost of a home energy audit that is conducted by an energy auditor
certified by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.  The cost of the
audit and the cost of implementing energy-saving recommendations noted in the
audit can be subtracted from a taxpayer’s federal adjusted gross income on the
Missouri return.  The deduction is capped at $1,000 per year and a total of
$2,000 over the life of the program, which expires Dec. 31, 2013.

        A new federal law also prohibits states
from taxing the income of non-resident spouses who reside in a state solely
because their spouse is stationed there on military orders.  For example, if a
soldier from Maryland is stationed in Missouri, and the soldier’s spouse (who is
also from Maryland) comes with the soldier, any income the spouse earns while
working here would not be taxable to Missouri.

        Some public pension recipients can
exclude up to 50 percent of their pension benefits from their Missouri taxable
income.  This is an increase from the 35 percent of benefits that could be
excluded for Tax Year 2008.  The percentage will be gradually raised to 100
percent by Tax Year 2012.

        Details on these changes in law and all
other 2009 Tax Year changes can be viewed at the “What’s New?” section of the
Department’s Web site at http://dor.mo..gov/tax/personal/whatsnew/#audit

        The Department also provides several
methods for people to receive assistance if they have questions about their tax
returns or need helping preparing their returns.  There are tax assistance
centers in Cape Girardeau, Jefferson City, Joplin, Kansas City, St. Joseph, St.
Louis and Springfield, and the centers have expanded operation hours through
April 30.  Locations, telephone numbers and driving directions to the centers
can be viewed at http://dor.mo.gov/tax/assistance.htm.

        Citizens with questions about individual
income tax returns can e-mail the Department at income@dor.mo.gov.  Military personnel with specific questions about
military-related tax issues can e-mail the Department at military@dor.mo.gov.  Customer assistance is also available by calling (573)
751-3505 from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays.

        A toll-free, automated phone number to
order forms is 1-800-877-6881. The general Web page for Missouri tax forms is at
http://dor.mo.gov/tax/forms/ and individual income tax forms are at http://dor.mo.gov/tax/personal/individual/forms/.  Faxed copies of tax forms can be obtained by calling
(573) 751-4800 from a fax machine handset.

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