How to file an Arkansas state tax return

Downtown Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, is seen in the background with the scenic arch of the Pike Avenue Bridge spanning the Arkansas River in the foreground.Image: Downtown Little Rock, the capital of Arkansas, is seen in the background with the scenic arch of the Pike Avenue Bridge spanning the Arkansas River in the foreground.

In a Nutshell

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Arkansas has extended its filing and payment deadline for 2019 income taxes to July 15, 2020.
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This article was fact-checked by our editors and Jennifer Samuel, senior product specialist for Credit Karma. It has been updated for the 2019 tax year.

Arkansas may be most famous for sending then-governor Bill Clinton to the White House in 1992.

But from the scenic beauty of the Ozark Mountains to other celebrated natives, like Johnny Cash, John Grisham and Joycelyn Elders, there’s a lot more to Arkansas than its presidential fame. And if you live in Arkansas, you may have to file a state income tax return, depending on your filing status and gross income. Here are a few things to know about individual state income tax in The Natural State.

What are some basics of Arkansas state taxes?

Taxing body

The Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration handles all state tax issues. For questions about individual state income tax, there are a few ways you can get help.

  • Calling the DFA or its tax hotline at 1-501-682-1100 or 1-800-882-9275
  • Emailing with your queries
  • Getting in-person help at the DFA’s Office of Income Tax Administration, Ledbetter Building, 1816 W. 7th Street, Room 2300, Little Rock, AR 72201

Filing and payment deadline

For 2019 state taxes, the state has extended the filing and payment deadline. Arkansas residents now have until July 15, 2020, to file their state returns and pay any state tax they owe for 2019. As with the federal deadline extension, Arkansas won’t charge interest on unpaid balances between April 15 and July 15, 2020.

You don’t need to do anything to get this extension. It’s automatic for all Arkansas taxpayers.

While this year is a bit different, generally you must submit your Arkansas state tax return and any tax due by April 15 each year — the same deadline for filing federal tax returns to the IRS. If the 15th falls on a holiday or a weekend, the deadline moves to the next business day. If you fail to file and/or you don’t pay your tax by the due date, you will face penalties and interest.

Need more time to file? You can get an automatic extension of the Arkansas deadline until October 15 if you already filed a federal extension with the IRS. When you’re ready to file Arkansas taxes, you’ll have to check the appropriate box on your state return to indicate that you filed a federal extension form.

If you need a filing extension on only your Arkansas state tax return, you’ll need to mail state Form AR1055 before the April tax filing date to …

Individual Income Tax Section
P.O. Box 8149
Little Rock, AR 72203-8149

Remember that a filing extension doesn’t extend your deadline to pay your state tax. You need to pay the entire balance due by the April deadline to avoid penalties and interest.

Filing statuses

Arkansas recognizes six filing statuses: single, married filing joint, head of household, married filing separately on the same return, married filing separate returns, and qualifying widow or widower with dependent child.

Arkansas income tax rates

Arkansas has a progressive tax code, which means your tax rate goes up with your income. But with 12 tax brackets, two separate individual income tax tables (one of which is only for low-income taxpayers), and rates of 2%, 3%, 3.4%, 5%, 6% and 6.9%, depending on your income, you’ll need to do some calculations to determine your state tax liability.

For 2020, Arkansas state income tax rates have changed significantly. Early in 2019, the state passed the 5.9 Tax Cut Plan, which reduces the number of tax brackets and lowers income tax rates to 2%, 4%, 5.9% and 6.6% In 2021, the top rate will drop to 5.9%.

What are some Arkansas deductions and credits?

Most Arkansas taxpayers can take the Arkansas standard deduction or itemize deductions on their state tax return, depending on which method gives them a bigger reduction on their tax bill. However, when a married couple files separate returns and one spouse itemizes, then the state requires the other spouse to do the same.

Arkansas standard deductions

Unless you use the low-income tax table, the amount of your Arkansas state standard deduction is based on your tax-filing status.

Standard deduction amounts for 2019 are:

  • $2,200 for single filers, head of household, married filing separately on the same return, married filing separately on different returns and qualifying widow(er)
  • $4,400 for married filing joint

Arkansas tax credits and deductions

Arkansas offers several deductions and credits to those who qualify. To be eligible, you’ll have to meet different criteria on income, filing status and other conditions. Here are some deductions and credits available for 2019.

  • Deduction for interest paid on student loans
  • Postsecondary tuition deduction for you, your spouse or dependents to attend a postsecondary educational institution
  • Deduction for qualified medical and dental expenses
  • Childcare credit
  • Self-employed health insurance deduction for you, your spouse and your dependents
  • Home mortgage interest
  • Credit for adoption expenses
  • Deduction for caring for a dependent with total and personal disabilities in your home
  • State political contribution credit
What's the difference between a tax deduction vs. a tax credit?

How can I file an Arkansas state tax return?

Arkansas doesn’t provide an option to e-file your individual state tax return through the DFA website. But if you meet income, age and other requirements, you may be able to file your Arkansas state tax return for free through an online provider.

You also can file paper forms. You can download them from the DFA site and mail your tax forms and any payment to one of these addresses.

If you owe tax

If you expect a refund

No refund/no taxes

Arkansas State Income Tax

P.O. Box 2144

Little Rock, AR 72203-2144

Arkansas State Income Tax

P.O. Box 1000

Little Rock, AR 72203-1000

Arkansas State Income Tax

P.O. Box 2144

Little Rock, AR 72203-2144

What if I owe and can’t pay?

If you owe Arkansas state tax but don’t pay by the annual April deadline, the state charges interest of 10% per year on the unpaid balance. You could also be charged the following penalties:

  • Failure to pay: A penalty of 1% of the tax owed per month if you haven’t paid all the tax you owe.
  • Failure to file: If you didn’t file on time and you owed taxes, the penalty is 5% of the amount owed per month.

Both penalties — failure to pay and failure to file on time — max out at 35% of your unpaid tax balance. If you’re late in both filing and paying, total combined penalties also max out at 35%.

How can I track an Arkansas state tax refund?

Go online to Where’s My Refund? on the DFA website to check your Arkansas state tax refund status. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number and expected refund amount, and you can sign up to receive an alert once your refund has been processed.

Bottom line

When you pay your Arkansas state tax, you’re helping support many of the wooded areas, mountains, streams and lakes that earned the state its nickname of “The Natural State.” Remember to file and pay your state tax on time to avoid penalties and interest, so you can use your hard-earned money to enjoy the state’s many natural wonders instead.

Jennifer Samuel, senior tax product specialist for Credit Karma, has more than a decade of experience in the tax preparation industry, including work as a tax analyst and tax preparation professional. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Saint Leo University. You can find her on LinkedIn.

About the author: Christy Rakoczy Bieber is a full-time personal finance and legal writer. She is a graduate of UCLA School of Law and the University of Rochester. Christy was previously a college teacher with experience writing textbo… Read more.