Individual Income Tax

Filing Tips

There are a number of steps to take to be sure you've filed a complete return and included all the necessary information. We've prepared a list of common tips below to help you get through this filing season smoothly:

  • Cut through the red tape. File electronically. Ohio now offers three different ways to cut to the front of the line and get your refund fast. To learn more about each option and decide which one is right for you, check out Ohio's electronic filing options.
  • Direct deposit ensures a faster refund. If you file electronically and elect to have your refund deposited directly into your bank account or other qualifying account, you can generally expect to receive it within five to seven business days. But be sure to verify your routing and account number with your financial institution before you submit your return.
  • Don't forget about local taxes. Many cities and villages, as well as an increasing number of school districts, levy an income tax. If you're unsure of your municipality or school district, look up your address in The Finder.
  • Make sure we have your correct address. If you use a tax preparer to file your return electronically, make sure that your current address is on file with the preparer. If you have moved since last year's filing, your preparer may need to update your mailing address with us. Otherwise, your refund may be returned to us as "undeliverable."
  • Be complete. Don't forget to:

    • Include W-2s and mailing a return. Also, send – if applicable – the schedules used to calculate deductions, additions and credits.
    • Include your school district number on your return.
    • Calculate Ohio use tax (see page 33 of the 2013 Ohio income tax instructions).
    • Send the IT 40 payment voucher and check, if you owe tax – and include the last four digits of your social security number, as well as the tax year, on your check.
    • Sign and enclose all four pages (if you're mailing a paper return), but please don't staple checks or forms to your return.
  • Check your math. Math errors slow down the processing of refunds. Also, remember that the federal adjusted gross income listed on your federal tax return must match the federal adjusted gross income listed on your state tax return(s). In order to avoid math errors, you may want to consider an electronic filing option such as I-File, which calculates the return for you.
  • Keep good records. It's best to retain copies of your tax forms and associated paperwork for four years to help settle any discrepancies.
  • Remember: We can work with your tax preparer, too. Taxpayers can authorize their tax preparer to contact the department to resolve issues regarding their return. If you want your tax preparer to be able to talk to us, list your preparer's name in the space provided below your signature on the return and check the box indicated below his/her name to allow us to discuss your return.
  • Remember: You might not have to file. Some senior citizens on fixed incomes and taxpayers whose personal and dependent exemptions exceed their taxable income may not have to file a state income tax return. Please refer to the section titled, "Generally, you do not have to file an Ohio return if you have no Ohio income tax withheld AND if..." on our Who Must File page.
  • Don't forget about the low income tax credit. Any Ohio resident whose income is $10,000 or less is allowed a credit equal to the amount of tax they would owe, which means they will not have to pay any tax. Eligible taxpayers must file in order to take the credit.
  • Don't forget about the federal earned income tax credit. Working individuals and families who earn modest incomes may be eligible for the earned income credit on their federal returns, which could result in a refund that these taxpayers might otherwise receive. To find out the eligibility rules and how the credit works, see the EITC information page on the IRS Web site.
  • Ohio Earned Income Credit. Taxpayers who qualify for the federal earned income tax credit (FEIC) may take an Ohio earned income credit equal to 5% of the taxpayer's FEIC with limitations.