Guide to filing a Maine income tax return

The famed lighthouse in Port Elizabeth, Maine towers beneath a blue sky.Image: The famed lighthouse in Port Elizabeth, Maine towers beneath a blue sky.

In a Nutshell

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maine 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 Tax® product specialist team, led by Senior Manager of Operations Christina Taylor. It has been updated for the 2019 tax year.

Maine is famous for lobsters and lighthouses — and being the birthplace of Stephen King, the king of horror novels.

If you live and work in the Pine Tree State, you may need to file a Maine income tax return, but it doesn’t have to be a scary process. Here’s information that can help you when it’s time to file your Maine state income tax return.



What are some basics of Maine income taxes?

If you live and work in Maine, or live in another state and earn income in Maine, you generally have to pay Maine income tax.

Taxing body

Maine Revenue Services administers tax laws and collects taxes, including income tax, sales tax, use tax, property tax, fuel tax and real estate transfer tax.

If you have any questions about Maine income tax, you can go online to explore individual income tax FAQs, call the Taxpayer Contact Center at 1-207-624-9784 or e-mail taxpayerassist@maine.gov for general tax questions, refund status and other services. You can also get in-person help at the agency’s walk-in Taxpayer Service Center at 51 Commerce Drive in Augusta, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday.

Filing and payment deadline

For 2019 state taxes, the state has extended the filing and payment deadline. Maine 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, Maine 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 Maine 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 Maine’s Tax Day is April 15 — the same as the federal deadline. As with your federal income tax return, if the 15th falls on a weekend or holiday, the deadlines may be extended to the next business day.

Maine offers an automatic six-month extension to file your state return, provided you file by the end of that period. You can apply in writing, before the six months end, for a two-month extension. If you don’t pay at least 90% of what you owe by the original due date, you’ll face penalties for late payment and interest on any tax not paid by the original due date, regardless of an extension.

Be aware that a filing extension doesn’t extend the time you have to pay any tax due. Any tax you owe is still due by April 15.

Filing statuses

The state of Maine recognizes the federal filing statuses: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household and qualifying widow(er).

How tax-filing status affects your tax bill

Maine income tax rates

With Maine’s progressive income tax code, tax rates rise as income increases. But with three separate tax rate schedules and rates, ranging from 5.8% to 7.15% based on your filing status and taxable income, it can take a bit of work to calculate what you owe the state. You can view the Maine tax rate schedules here.

What are some Maine deductions and credits to know?

If you file a Maine state income tax return and you can’t be claimed as a dependent on another person’s return, you can take a personal exemption of $4,200, or $8,400 if married filing jointly or filing as a qualifying widow(er). The exemption gets phased out for high-income taxpayers.

Maine also allows deductions. Generally, you’ll have to use the same deduction method on your Maine return — standard or itemized — that you used on your federal return. But unlike federal taxes, the amount of your deductions can be limited if your Maine adjusted gross income exceeds certain amounts.

Maine standard deduction

Maine standard deduction amounts are equal to the federal standard deduction, depending on your filing status, though it’s phased out at higher incomes.

  • Single: $12,200
  • Married filing jointly: $24,400
  • Married filing separately: $12,200
  • Head of household: $18,350

Itemized deduction

Maine caps the amount you can claim for itemized deductions at $29,550, but medical expenses are not subject to that limit. For 2019, you may be able to increase your itemized deduction by the amount of real and personal property taxes you couldn’t deduct on your federal return because of the $10,000 state and local tax cap limitation ($5,000 for those married filing separately).

Maine tax credits

You may be able to offset your tax liability with any Maine deductions and credits you qualify for. You’ll have to meet various criteria on income, filing status and other conditions to be eligible.

Here are some tax credits available for 2019 (caps and conditions apply).

  • Child care credit
  • Adult dependent care credit
  • Earned income tax credit
  • Educational opportunity tax credit, based on qualified loan payments made in 2018
  • Property tax fairness credit

FAST FACTS

What’s the difference between a tax credit and a tax deduction?

A tax deduction reduces the amount of income you pay taxes on, which can in turn lower your tax bill. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of tax you owe. Learn more about tax deductions and tax credits.

How can I file a Maine income tax return?

You have a few options for filing your Maine state income tax return.

  • You can file your state income tax return electronically via the Maine FastFile service’s free I-File option, or get in-person help to e-file at the state agency’s walk-in Taxpayer Service Center at 51 Commerce Drive in Augusta, from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday.
  • You can use a software vendor or online tax-preparation and filing service, like Credit Karma Tax®, that’s listed on the Maine Revenue Service filing options page. While Credit Karma Tax® is always free, be aware that some vendors and services may charge a fee to prepare and file your taxes, depending on factors like your income, age and the complexity of your return.
  • Or you can download the tax forms you need, including the 1040ME, Maine’s equivalent of the federal Form 1040, and file by mail. If you expect a refund, mail the completed forms to Maine Revenue Services, P.O. Box 1066, Augusta, ME 04332-1066. If you don’t expect a refund, mail them to Maine Revenue Services, P.O. Box 1067, Augusta, ME 04332-1067.

What if I owe and can’t pay?

Even if you can’t pay, you should still file your Maine tax return by the due date to avoid a late-filing penalty. And if you don’t make your full tax payment by the deadline, you’ll likely face penalties and interest on the unpaid balance. You can call Maine Revenue Services at 1-207-621-4300 to arrange a payment plan.

How can I track a Maine tax refund?

If you’re expecting to get a refund of your Maine state tax, you can use the Refund Status tool to help track your state refund. You’ll need to provide your Social Security number, filing status and amount of refund expected.


Bottom line

The sooner you get your Maine state income taxes filed, the more time you’ll have to curl up with a good book by Stephen King, roam the craggy shoreline or explore the remote wilderness of the Pine Tree State. And the sooner you file, the sooner you’ll know if a refund is headed your way.


Christina Taylor is senior manager of tax operations for Credit Karma Tax®. 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: Deb Hipp is a freelance writer with a bachelor’s degree in English and creative writing from the University of Missouri-Kansas City. When she’s not writing about personal finance and new… Read more.