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News Release

March 24, 2009 – Money tight? File electronically – and get your refund fast

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Taxpayers seem especially interested in getting their refunds fast this year. If you are among them, the Ohio Department of Taxation has some advice: File your return electronically.

As Ohio’s income tax filing season gradually moves toward its peak, choosing I-File, eForms or one of Ohio’s other electronic filing options can make the difference between getting a refund in a matter of days or waiting for weeks.

“We know money is tight for many families. The nation is in recession, and, for many taxpayers, getting an income tax refund fast is especially important,” Ohio Tax Commissioner Richard A. Levin said. “So it’s important to remember that the single fastest way to get an income tax refund in Ohio is to file your return electronically.”

For taxpayers who file electronically, refunds are usually available by electronic deposit within five to seven days. In contrast, taxpayers who file on paper close to the April 15, 2009 deadline – when the department will receive more than 100,000 returns each day – may have to wait six to eight weeks to receive a refund check by mail.

“It takes time to open envelopes. It takes time to run returns through our scanners. It takes time to hand type the information that our scanners can’t read,” Levin said. “By filing electronically, taxpayers can cut through the red tape.”

New statistics from the Department of Taxation suggest that interest in refunds is unusually high this year. Through March 9, the department had received close to 2.5 million state income returns, about 194,000 returns ahead of the previous year’s pace, or about 7.8 percent. The vast majority of these returns contained requests for refunds. The state received a total of more than 5.5 million returns last year.

School district income tax returns were even farther ahead of last year’s pace: about 16.2 percent ahead of the previous year’s pace, with more than 712,000 filings as of March 9.

Ohio’s electronic filing methods include:

  • I-File: This Web-based software asks taxpayers a series of questions, then compiles a state or school district income tax return based on their answers. I-File will even do most of the math, and it’s free.
  • eForms: These areAdobe Acrobat versions of Ohio’s major state and school district income tax forms. They can be completed online, much as one would on paper. eForms handles most of the math automatically, and it’s free.
  • eFile: Taxpayers who file through paid preparers or who use commercial software to prepare a return may be able to file through the IRS e-file program.

Also, taxpayers who last year used TeleFile, Ohio’s dial-by-telephone filing method, may use it again this year.

Every tax filing season also brings changes to the tax code, and this year is no exception. Key differences this year include:

Lower tax rates: The 2008 state income tax tables include a 4.2 percent cut across all income tax brackets when compared to the previous tax year. This round of cuts represented the fourth year of a five-year plan to reduce state income tax rates by 21 percent across all brackets.

New military retirement pay tax exemption: Beginning with the 2008 taxable year, retired military and their survivors may now deduct their military retirement pay in arriving at their Ohio adjusted gross income. Federal civil service retirees who received credit for their military service may also deduct the portion of their pension that reflects that military service.

Taxpayers in search of help have several ways of contacting the Department of Taxation:

  • By e-mail by selecting the “Contact Us” option at the department’s Web site: tax.ohio.gov.
  • By telephone at (800) 282-1780 from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. Extended hours will run until 7 p.m. from April 1 through April 15.
  • In person at one of the Department of Taxation’s taxpayer service centers between 8 and 5 p.m. on Monday through Friday. A complete list of locations is available in the “Contact Us” section of tax.ohio.gov.

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News media with further questions should contact Mike McKinney at (614) 466-5461. For answers to specific taxpayer questions, call (800) 282-1780 for individual taxpayer assistance or (888) 405-4039 for business taxpayer assistance.