BLOG: Ten Things You Need to Know When Filing Your Taxes

By: Eileen McNulty, Secretary of Revenue

March 19, 2016

You have just over a month left to file your yearly income taxes without penalty. The good news for procrastinators? This year, you have three extra days to get it done since the deadline doesn’t hit until April 18.

Here is what you should know before filing your state and federal returns:

Who must file a state tax return?

Pennsylvania residents and non-residents – including minors – with $33 or more in taxable income must file a Pennsylvania personal income tax return, even if nothing is owed.

When to file your taxes?

Taxpayers get an extra three days to file this year because April 15 is Emancipation Day in Washington, D.C. which marks the abolition of slavery in the city. Federal and state income tax returns for individuals are due April 18.

What will I need to do my taxes?

For a basic return, you’ll need a W2 from all employers in 2015, along with any other documents you received reporting income, such as 1099 forms.

How do I file my state taxes?

PA Direct File is a state-only system for electronically filing Pennsylvania income tax returns. This secure service is offered exclusively by the Department of Revenue and allows most taxpayers to file their state income tax return for free. E-filing is easy. The system does the math, and you get your return faster and direct deposit is an option. You can also use a professional or e-file by purchasing tax-prep software from approved companies. Free software is available for those with incomes below $62,000.

How do I file my federal taxes?

The IRS does not have its own e-filing option like PA Direct File. Taxpayers can still e-file by purchasing tax prep software or searching for a local professional who will prepare and file your returns. If your income is below $62,000, you can file for free.

What is tax forgiveness?

Depending on your income and family size, the state’s Tax Forgiveness program could lower your taxes or provide a refund. A family of four (couple with two dependent children) earning up to $34,250 qualifies. Governor Wolf has proposed expanding the program to cover an additional 218,600 individuals and families. You may also qualify for Earned Income Tax Credit to get a federal tax refund from the IRS.

What income is taxable in Pennsylvania?

Taxable income includes salaries, wages, tips, gratuities, bonuses, vacation pay and interest. There isn’t state income tax on alimony, child support, inheritances, Social Security, public assistance, unemployment compensation and scholarships. Here’s a complete list of taxable and non-taxable income (PDF).

Can I get an extension?

You can request an extension of up to six-months to file your federal and state income taxes.

I filed my taxes. Where’s my refund?

You can check on that status of your federal tax refund and state tax refund online.

I need help!

Don’t worry. The Department of Revenue website has answers to many commonly asked questions or you contact the Taxpayer Service and Information Center at 717-787-8201. The IRS offers free help preparing and filing federal taxes to people over age 60 or those with an income of $54,000 or less, persons with disabilities and limited English speaking taxpayers.

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