Last year, 3.5 million taxpayers, or 58 percent of all taxpayers, filed state income tax returns electronically. Electronic filing is the most cost-effective filing method, saving the state about $3.49 per return. Electronic filing offers advantages to taxpayers not available to those filing by paper, such as error-reducing automatic calculators, instant confirmation of successful filing, faster refund processing and direct deposit options.
The department offers two, free electronic tax filing options: TeleFile (1-888-4PAFILE) and pa.direct.file, available through www.revenue.state.pa.us.
If a taxpayer filed a return last year, they may file by phone with TeleFile by simply providing a Social Security number and five-digit ZIP Code. To file using pa.direct.file, each taxpayer will need to provide a Social Security number and one of the following: 2008 or 2007 tax liability; PA driver's license or identification number; or a registered e-signature account with the department.
Also available through tax preparers and authorized computer software is the Fed/State e-file service, which allows taxpayers to file state and federal tax returns together or separately.
Revenue's electronic filing systems are secure and protected with the industry standard for online banking and trading, 128-bit secure socket layer encryption.
Through www.revenue.state.pa.us, taxpayers can file returns using pa.direct.file, make payments (including estimated payments), check the status of returns and refunds, update information, pay taxes by credit/debit card, access online customer service, review answers to commonly asked questions and download tax forms.
The three primary state tax forms are the PA-40 Income Tax Booklet, the Fast File Booklet and the payment voucher letter. All mailed state tax forms should arrive in taxpayers' mailboxes by early February. The Revenue Department drastically reduced the number of forms it prints and mails this tax season to reflect taxpayer filing preferences and reduce costs.
Most notably for personal income tax filers, payment vouchers for individual income tax returns – commonly known as PA-V letters and vouchers – are only being printed and mailed to those individuals who used payment vouchers to submit payment to the department last year.
"The Department of Revenue is reducing spending wherever it can," Hassell said. "We reduced the number of items we print and mail, especially because last year more than half of all Pennsylvanians filed returns electronically."
About 289,000 taxpayers will receive the payment voucher to mail with check or money order, if payment is due. About 632,300 taxpayers will receive the Fast File Booklet including electronic filing instructions and the TeleFile worksheet to use when filing by phone. About 263,600 taxpayers will receive the PA-40 Personal Income Tax Booklet including the traditional long form to prepare and file taxes by paper.
The department reminds all taxpayers who received more than $33 in total gross taxable income in 2009 that they are obligated to file Pennsylvania personal income tax returns by April 15.
Tax forms are available online at www.revenue.state.pa.us and by calling, toll-free, 1-800-362-2050. Tax help is available by calling 717-787-8201, from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.
Taxpayers with annual incomes of $35,000 or less may also visit a Revenue district office, listed in the blue pages of local phone directories, for basic personal state tax filing help. Help at district offices is available from 9 a.m. to noon and from 1 to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Pittsburgh residents are reminded that the Revenue district office recently moved to Room 420 of the Chamber of Commerce Building, 411 Seventh Ave.