The West Virginia State Tax Department has made great strides in recent years to quickly process taxpayers' personal income tax returns.
However, there are several aspects of the annual tax filing season that causes some taxpayers to wait weeks rather than days for their payments to be processed or their refunds to be issued.
I'd like to take a moment and encourage all taxpayers especially those who had substantial wait times in recent years to take the following steps which will help the State Tax Department improve customer service this season.
By law, employers are to issue all employees' W-2s by January 31st each year. Upon receiving one's W-2 and other necessary documentation, I strongly encourage taxpayers to file a personal income tax return as soon as possible.
Last year those taxpayers who filed error-free returns in early February had their returns processed in an average of 10 days. This is due to the low volume of filings at that time. In contrast, the State Tax Department received approximately 85,000 paper returns postmarked April 15, 2009 -- this is 27 percent of all personal income tax returns for the year.
The heavy volume received on April 15th each year negatively contributes to the longer processing time and thus taxpayers who file on April 15th have an extended wait.
No matter when you file, always double check your return for accuracy. Returns filed with errors can significantly slow the tax return processing time and cause a resolution delay for weeks. This will be the third year the State Tax Department has used a state of the art computer system for personal income tax return filings.
However, computers cannot replace human interaction when errors are detected on a return. Please keep in mind errors may not be mathematical but may be simple oversights like forgetting to sign the return, missing a digit in one's direct deposit bank routing number, or using a previous year's tax form.
Before you put pen to paper, consider electronic filing or e-filing.
Did you know 60 percent of West Virginia Personal Income Tax returns are e-filed? It is the most accurate way to file with error rates considerably less than paper which translates into faster processing and a faster refund in your hand. For some taxpayers, e-filing is FREE!
Taxpayers who e-file receive fast, accurate, and secure service. By filing electronically, taxpayers receive their refunds faster than those taxpayers who are due a refund and file paper returns.
By e-filing refunds can be directly deposited into your bank account in as little as 10 working days for correct e-filed returns. Correct paper filed returns can take up to 7 weeks before a taxpayer receives a refund check.
It is important to note, if you e-file and submit a payment to the state by check, do not send another paper return with your check as this causes confusion and will delay your return from being processed in a timely fashion.
For more information on these and other personal income tax filing tips visit www.wvtax.gov.
Christopher G. Morris
Editor's Note: Morris is West Virginia's Tax Commissioner.