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April 14, 2010

As Tax Deadline Approaches, Dept. of Revenue Offers Advice for Last-Minute Filers

JEFFERSON CITY - Even with the deadline looming to file individual income tax returns, the Missouri Department of Revenue urges citizens to ensure they are as thorough as possible when filing the last-minute returns.

"With the clock ticking and the deadline being so close, I'm sure some people are hurrying to finish this year's tax return," said Alana M. Barragán-Scott, director of the Department.  "However, it's in every filer's best interest to fill out the tax forms correctly because an incomplete or inaccurate return can slow down its processing and cause delays."

About 2.8 million individual income tax returns are expected from Missouri taxpayers by the deadline of tomorrow (Thursday, April 15).

Barragán-Scott advised Missouri citizens to avoid the most common mistakes that plague tax return filers.  One common mistake is not signing the return.  Another is not including necessary documentation like W-2 forms, interest/dividend statements from financial institutions, the MO-A form if claiming itemized deductions, or a copy of a taxpayer's federal tax return.  Ensuring that Social Security number or bank account information is correct is also vital.  Mistakes can cause returns to be manually checked and slow down the processing of a return or refund.

Another thing to double check is entering the correct standard deduction based on the filing status.  People who are blind, 100 percent disabled or 65 or older should note their status on the state return because it qualifies them for a larger standard deduction. 

If a taxpayer intends to fill out paper tax return forms and mail a return, Barragán-Scott says not to assume that all local post offices will be open late on April 15 to accept returns.  Although some post offices offer this service, many do not.  Barragán-Scott advises people to call their local post office and ask about their hours of operation to check whether they will be open late enough to accommodate the mailing of a return during the evening of April 15.  Mailed tax returns must be postmarked no later than April 15 to meet the deadline.

Missouri grants an automatic extension of time to file a state return if filing for a federal extension is completed, and if a tax payment to the state is not expected.  This extension is good for six months (or until Oct. 15) for individual income taxpayers.  But an extension of time to file an income tax return does not extend the time for payment of any taxes that are due.  Citizens might have to pay penalties even if they file an extension but do not pay the tax in full by the due date. A state extension form (the MO-60) and other guidelines on extensions are available at http://dor.mo.gov/forms/MO-60.pdf.  The federal extension form is Form 4868, and it is available at www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f4868.pdf.

Copies of tax return forms and answers to common questions about tax returns are available at the Department of Revenue's Taxation Web site, http://www.dor.mo.gov/personal/ and the Internal Revenue Service Web site, www.irs.gov.  The Department of Revenue also has seven assistance centers throughout Missouri that people can visit in person, call or e-mail to get answers to questions.  The centers are in Cape Girardeau, Jefferson City, Joplin, Kansas City, St. Joseph, St. Louis and Springfield.  Contact information for the centers 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.

"Fill-in forms" are also available on the Department of Revenue Web site at http://dor.mo.gov/forms/ and instructions on how to use these "2D barcode" forms are available on the Department's Web site at http://dor.mo.gov/faq/personal/2dbarcode.php.  These forms are filled out on a computer, but are then printed out by the taxpayer and mailed to the Department of Revenue.  Using 2-D barcode returns allow for faster processing by the Department, as it reduces data entry.  The barcode contains all the information typed into the completed form and is ready for scanning by the Department.