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Department of Revenue offers tips for taxpayers

ST. PAUL, Minn. — This year's income tax filing season ends April 18, and as the date approaches, the Minnesota Department of Revenue offers tips to help taxpayers as they get ready to file their returns.

"While about half of Minnesota taxpayers have already filed their income taxes ahead of the April 18 deadline, many will be sitting down in the coming days to do their taxes. These helpful tips could make filing easier," said Revenue Commissioner Cynthia Bauerly.

Income tax filing tips:

• E-file and choose direct deposit. Electronically filing your return and choosing direct deposit for your refund is the most secure and convenient way to file your taxes and get your refund. Double-check bank routing and account numbers used on tax forms for direct deposit. Incorrect account numbers will delay your refund.

• Find an up-to-date list of certified tax software providers. Filing electronically can be done using any of the certified tax software providers listed on our website. See the list and learn more by visiting our website.

• File online for free. Some software vendors offer free income tax filing options for those who qualify. You can find a list of vendors that offer free online filing. If you qualify for free filing, you must use the link from our website under the heading "You may qualify for FREE electronic filing" to access the service. Each vendor has its own criteria.

• Choose a tax preparer carefully. If you're using a professional tax preparer to do your taxes, take the time to ask about their training, their history preparing taxes, and their affiliations with various tax professional organizations. Learn more about choosing a preparer on our website.

• Enter your name and any dependents' names exactly as they appear on Social Security cards. Incorrect names or Social Security numbers will result in refund delays.

• Do not staple or use paperclips on your paper return. Staples and paperclips on tax returns need to be removed by hand and can slow down processing.

• If you move after filing your return, contact us right away. That way anything sent to you will reach you, such as refund checks or requests for more information. You must do this even when requesting a direct deposit. Call us at 651-296-3781 or 800-652-9094 (toll-free) to change your address.

• File your return by April 18, 2017, even if you owe more than you can pay. Pay as much as you can by the due date. Acting quickly can help to minimize any late filing or late payment penalties that may apply.

• If you owe, you can pay electronically. You can include your banking information on your electronically filed return to make the payment on or before the due date. Follow the instructions provided by the software product you are using. Another payment option is to pay electronically with our e-Services Payment System. You can specify when the payment will be taken from your checking or savings account, in advance or on the due date.

For more individual income tax filing tips, check out our Weekly Tax Tip video series.

After you file:

• Track your refund. You can track the status of your refund by using our Where's My Refund? system. This system gives you the ability to track which of the four stages your refund is in and whether you need to take any action to allow us to complete processing your refund. You will see the date your refund was issued when it is finished processing. This online system is available 24-hours a day with no wait time and provides as much information as our phone agents can.

• Do not spend your refund until the money is in your bank account. Returns may take longer to process because of the increase in attempted refund fraud due to scams, stolen personal information and identity theft. The department will take the time necessary to review returns to make sure taxpayer dollars are not getting into the hands of criminals. Visit our website to learn more about our efforts to protect your information.

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