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April 05, 2010

Tax Season Tips Suggested for Citizens Who Haven't Yet Filed State Tax Returns

JEFFERSON CITY - Avoiding common mistakes and following other tips on filling out state tax returns can make tax season less hectic according to the Missouri Department of Revenue.

An estimated 2.8 million Missouri taxpayers are expected to file returns by the April 15 deadline.  About 1.2 million of those returns come into the Department of Revenue during the three weeks preceding the deadline.

"April 15th is just a little more than a week away," said Alana M. Barragán-Scott, director of the department.  "If people haven't yet sent in their state tax returns, there are a few simple suggestions that can help ensure that their tax returns are dealt with in the most efficient way possible."

The best option for many taxpayers is to file their returns electronically.  About 61 percent of Missouri income taxpayers filed their returns electronically last year, and the number of people choosing this option increases each year.  Advantages of this format include proof that the department has received the return, paperwork can't get lost, it improves accuracy, a trip to the post office is not necessary, and for many people it is an easier format to use.  Electronic returns can also be filed any time of the day or day of the week.  IRS-approved tax preparers can file a return electronically, and there are a variety of computer software packages that citizens can use to file their taxes. A list of IRS-approved tax preparers is available at http://www.irs.gov/efile/page/0,,id=10162,00.html.

There is also an option for people and preparers who want to obtain some of the benefits of filing electronically, but choose not to purchase a software program.  They can use fill-in forms available on the Department of Revenue website at http://dor.mo.gov/faq/personal/2dbarcode.php.  These forms are filled out on a computer, but are then printed out and mailed to the department.  These returns include a 2D barcode that speeds up processing and reduces the chance of processing errors.  About 23 percent of state tax returns were submitted in this format last year.

For taxpayers filling out their own return, it's important to try to avoid common mistakes that can slow down the processing of a return.  One common mistake is not signing the return.  Another is not including necessary documentation like W-2 forms, interest and dividend statements from financial institutions, the MO-A form if claiming itemized deductions, or a copy of a taxpayer's federal tax return.

Another thing to double check is entering the correct standard deduction for filing status.  People who are blind, 100 percent disabled, or 65 or older are supposed to note their status on the state return because it qualifies them for a larger standard deduction.  Sometimes people will check one box and not check another even if they qualify for more than one category.  Other people sometimes make the mistake of claiming one of these statuses without truly qualifying.

It is also advised that taxpayers not wait until the very last minute to file their returns and expect their local post office to be open to accept and postmark their returns.  Post offices have different operating hours, so a local post office might not stay open until midnight on April 15.

Missouri grants an automatic extension of time to file your return if you filed for a federal extension.  An extension of time to file an income tax return does not extend the time for payment of any taxes that are due. A state extension form and other guidelines on extensions are available at http://dor.mo.gov/forms/MO-60.pdf.

Help for taxpayers is available at the Department of Revenue's tax website, http://www.dor.mo.gov/personal/ and the Internal Revenue Service website, www.irs.gov.  The Department of Revenue also has seven assistance centers throughout the state that people can visit in person, call or e-mail to get answers to questions and help in preparing their state tax returns.  Contact information for the centers is located below or can be accessed on the Internet at http://dor.mo.gov/contact/assistance.php.  Operating hours for all of the offices through the month of April are 7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. Individuals with speech or hearing impairments can call TDD 1-800-735-2966.

Contact Information

Contact Information

Jefferson City
301 West High St., Room 330
Jefferson City, MO 65105
Phone: (573) 751-7191
Fax: (573) 522-1719
Email: jctax@dor.mo.gov

St. Louis
3256 Laclede Station Rd., Ste 101
St. Louis, MO 63143-3753
Phone: (314) 877-0177
Fax: (314) 877-0198
Email: stltax@dor.mo.gov

Cape Girardeau
3102 Blattner Dr., Suite 102
Cape Girardeau, MO 63703
Phone: (573) 290-5850
Fax: (573) 290-5842
Email: capetax@dor.mo.gov

149 Park Central Square, Room 313
Springfield, MO 65806
Phone: (417) 895-6474
Fax: (417) 895-6233
Email: sprtax@dor.mo.gov

1110 East 7th St., Suite 400
Joplin, MO 64801
Phone: (417) 629-3070
Fax: (417) 629-3076
Email: joptax@dor.mo.gov

Kansas City
615 E 13th St., Room 127
Kansas City, MO 64106
Business Taxes: (816) 889-2944
Income Taxes: (816) 889-2920
Fax: (816) 889-2876
Email: kctax@dor.mo.gov

St. Joseph
525 Jules, Room 314
St. Joseph, MO 64501
Phone: (816) 387-2230
Fax: (816) 387-2008
Email: stjtax@dor.mo.gov