Special to The SUN
Each year, thousands of Colorado state tax returns contain errors or omissions that delay tax refunds. Taxpayers can easily avoid delays by filing their Colorado income tax electronically.
Various Internet and tax preparation services provide features that check for math errors or overlooked items. If there are errors on a paper income tax return, the return has to be manually reviewed by Department of Revenue staff. The review process for returns with errors could take 90 to 120 business days.
How can I avoid errors?
• Carefully enter the information into Revenue Online and submit your return. Avoid rushing through it. Use the paper Colorado 104 form, instructions and appropriate schedules as guides and reference. Filing through Revenue Online is free. Visit Revenue Online, www.Colorado.gov/RevenueOnline, and click on the “File a Return” button located under “For Individuals.” Make sure the correct year and type of return is correctly selected before filing the return. If you owe, pay tax by credit card or e-check. The system will calculate the total tax owed, plus interest and penalty. You may choose the amount you wish to pay and you will be billed for the remaining amount due. Or, use the tax professional or tax software of your choice.
• If you cannot file or pay electronically, complete the 104 return and appropriate schedules. Include your payment by check if you owe. The 104 booklet is available at www.TaxColorado.com under Forms, Individual Income, Current and Prior Year. Due to the continued growth of electronic filing and to save state funds, taxpayers do not automatically receive income tax booklets by mail.
Regardless of filing method, taxpayers should always:
• Use the correct form for the tax year. Do not use a 2012 form to file 2013 taxes.
• Read instructions carefully. Errors can be avoided if taxpayers understand the form and understand which lines may or may not apply to them.
• Check the math. Simple calculation errors may result in the return being adjusted or the department manually correcting the returns.
• Social security numbers must be correct. Avoid transposing numbers within the nine-digit number. If social security numbers (SSN) are not correct on paper or electronic returns, the system will place the account on a list to be manually reviewed, which will delay the refund.
• Verify where the refund is to be sent. When direct deposit is requested, accurate financial information should be submitted. Carefully review bank account and routing numbers. The Department of Revenue advises that you use caution when designating your direct deposit into an account other than your own. If a taxpayer wishes to receive a refund by mail, addresses should be complete.
• Don’t file more than one return for the same tax year. If changes or corrections to a return that has already been filed are necessary, use an Amended Return (104X) for that specific year. Each return has different lines from year to year. Using the correct corresponding year is important to ensure smooth processing.
• Attach all supporting documentation to the return. All W-2, 1099 and supporting documents required for tax credits taken must be attached to the paper return. Skip the paper and staples. Use Revenue Online’s “Submit a Filer Attachment” at www.Colorado.gov/RevenueOnline to attach any supporting documentation required for your income tax filing.
When required documentation is not included with the return, taxpayers will receive a “Your Return Cannot Be Processed” letter. They will have 21 days to respond. The fastest way to submit documentation is through Revenue Online and the “Respond to Inquiry Letter” link. The sooner taxpayers respond, the sooner their return will continue through processing. The most important thing to remember is to read the filing instructions so you submit the needed documentation the first time and avoid processing delays. For tax information, visit www.TaxColorado.com.