Guide to filing a North Dakota state tax return

The State Capital grounds in Bismark, North Dakota are home to the states legislature, which establishes North Dakota state tax laws.Image: The State Capital grounds in Bismark, North Dakota are home to the states legislature, which establishes North Dakota state tax laws.

In a Nutshell

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, North Dakota 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 a member of the Credit Karma product specialist team, led by Senior Manager of Operations Christina Taylor. It has been updated for the 2019 tax year.

North Dakota’s pop culture claim to fame may be Fargo — the movie or TV series, not the city — but the state with one of the smallest U.S. populations also has a relatively simple state income tax system going for it.

The Peace Garden State (so named for the International Peace Garden that spans the border between North Dakota and Manitoba, Canada) has a progressive income tax with just five rates that top out at a low 2.9%.

If you need to file a North Dakota state tax return, here are some things to know about the state’s income taxes.

The basics of North Dakota state tax

If you live in North Dakota and have to file a federal income tax return, you must also file a state individual income tax return — even if part of your income comes from sources outside the state. If you don’t live in North Dakota, you should still file a North Dakota state tax return if you get income from sources within the state and you had to file a federal return (although there are some exceptions).

Taxing body

The North Dakota Office of State Tax Commissioner regulates the tax code for the Peace Garden State. If you have questions about North Dakota individual income taxes, you can call 1-701-328-1247 or send an email to

You can also visit one of the agency’s remote offices in Dickinson, Fargo, Grand Forks, Minot and Williston. Call ahead though, to make sure they’re open.

Filing and payment deadline

For 2019 state taxes, the state has extended the filing and payment deadline. North Dakota 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, North Dakota 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 North Dakota taxpayers. But keep in mind that if you’re expecting a refund, you might want to go ahead and file as soon as possible. During the coronavirus crisis, the state is continuing to process tax returns and issue refunds.

While this year is a bit different, generally the deadline for filing your state tax return and paying your bill is April 15. If the 15th falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadline moves to the next business day.

If you need more time to file your return, you can request it in two ways. The first is by requesting an extension for your federal return, which automatically applies to your state return. If you don’t also need an extension on your federal return, you can request one for your state return alone by filing Form 101.

Keep in mind though, that the state extension isn’t automatic — you’ll need a good reason to get it approved.

If you don’t file by the April 15 deadline or by the time your extension ends, and you owe taxes, there are penalties and interest. For 2019 tax returns, the failure-to-file penalty is 5% ($5 minimum) per month or part of a month that balances remained unpaid.

Do I need a good reason to request a filing extension for a federal tax return?

Typically, the IRS will grant an automatic six-month filing extension to anyone who requests one by Tax Day, and you don’t need to provide a reason for your request. However, the automatic filing extension is not an extension of time to pay your taxes. Any federal income tax you owe is still due on time.

Filing statuses

North Dakota recognizes the same filing statuses as the IRS and requires you to use the same status on your state return as your federal return. Those statuses include the following:

  • Single
  • Head of household
  • Married filing jointly
  • Married filing separately
  • Qualifying widow(er)

North Dakota income tax rate(s)

The Peace Garden State is one of the more tax-friendly states in the country, providing five tax brackets with relatively low rates. The tax rates for 2019 are 1.10%, 2.04%, 2.27%, 2.64% and 2.9%.

North Dakota subtractions

While North Dakota doesn’t offer a standard deduction of its own, the state uses federal taxable income as the starting point for calculating your state tax. So North Dakota state filers that took the standard deduction on their federal return can get the benefit of that deduction when calculating their state tax. The state also provide taxpayers with other deductions, also called subtractions.

Here are some of the more common ones that are available for 2019.

  • National Guard or reserve member exclusion — If you were a member of the North Dakota National Guard or the U.S. Army Reserve, and you were mobilized or activated for federal active-duty service, you can exclude from your taxable income the compensation you received from that service. If your compensation was exempted from federal income tax, or you received it for attending annual training, basic military training or professional military education, you can’t exclude it on your state return.
  • College SAVE contribution deduction — If you contributed to a North Dakota College SAVE account, you can deduct your contributions up to a set maximum amount that’s based on your filing status. You can take the deduction even if you’re not the owner of the account.
  • Organ donor deduction — If you or your dependent make a living donation of certain types of organs (such as liver or bone marrow), you may deduct unreimbursed medical expenses (as defined for federal income tax purposes) and lost wages not compensated by sick pay up to a maximum of $10,000 of qualified expenses. You can take the deduction for the tax year when you had the medical care that led to the expenses, regardless of when you were billed for or paid the expenses.
What's the difference between a tax deduction vs. a tax credit?

North Dakota credits

In addition to a handful of deductions, North Dakota also provides several tax credits to allow taxpayers to lower how much they owe. Here are a two of the more common ones that are available for 2019.

  • Family member care tax credit — If you paid qualifying care expenses for a qualifying family member, you may be able to take a credit of 20% to 30% of your expenses, depending on your federal taxable income. The maximum credit is worth up to $2,000 per family member ($1,000 if you’re married filing separately), and up to $4,000 total ($2,000 if you’re married filing separately).
  • Marriage credit — If you’re married and filing a joint return, and your income exceeds a certain threshold, you may qualify for a credit. The threshold and maximum credit amount can change each year, so use the worksheet in the instruction booklet to determine whether you qualify and for how much.

How to file your North Dakota state tax return

If you meet eligibility criteria, you may be able to e-file your federal and state tax returns for free through a Free File e-file service. Participating companies have varying criteria for free filing, so be sure to check out their requirements before choosing one.

If you’d rather file a paper return, you can download and print out the applicable forms on the state’s website. Whether you owe money or you’re expecting a refund, mail your return, payment and voucher (if applicable) to …

Office of State Tax Commissioner
P.O. Box 5621
Bismarck, ND 58506-5621

If you owe and can’t pay

If you can’t pay your tax bill in full, you should pay as much as you can and then call the Accounts Receivables Section (Collections) at 1-701-328-1244 to find out if you’re eligible to set up a payment plan.

If you’ve already received a collection notice, calculation worksheet, statement of tax due or collection letter, you can request a payment plan online.

Keep in mind, though, that you’ll pay a failure-to-pay penalty and interest until your balance is paid in full. The penalty is 5% (minimum $5), and the interest rate is 1% per month or part of a month.

Tracking your North Dakota tax refund

If you’re expecting a refund, you can check the status on the state’s website using the Where’s My Refund? tool. To get an update, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, filing status and the amount of the refund you’re expecting.

Bottom line

The Peace Garden State offers some different deductions and credits than other states do, but taxpayers can still look forward to low tax rates and a few deductions and credits. To avoid penalties and interest, be sure to file your return on time and pay what you owe by the deadline.

Christina Taylor is senior manager of tax operations for Credit Karma. She has more than a dozen years of experience in tax, accounting and business operations. Christina founded her own accounting consultancy and managed it for more than six years. She codeveloped an online DIY tax-preparation product, serving as chief operating officer for seven years. She is the current treasurer of the National Association of Computerized Tax Processors and holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration/accounting from Baker College and an MBA from Meredith College. You can find her on LinkedIn.

About the author: Ben Luthi is a personal finance freelance writer and credit cards expert. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University. In addition to Credit Karma, you can find his wo… Read more.