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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.
The basics of Maine income tax
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.
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 MRS at 1-207-626-8475 or send an email to email@example.com. 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. EST Monday through Friday.
Filing and payment deadline
Maine’s Tax Day is the same as the federal deadline — April 15. 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 will 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.
The state of Maine recognizes the federal filing statuses: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household and qualifying widow(er).How your 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.
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 $4,150, or $8,300 if married filing jointly or filing as a qualifying widow(er). The exemption gets phased out for high-income taxpayers.
Maine standard deduction
You can take a Maine standard deduction, which is equal to the federal standard deduction, depending on your filing status, though it’s phased out at higher incomes.
- Single: $12,000
- Married filing jointly: $24,000
- Married filing separately: $12,000
- Head of household: $18,000
Taxpayers who are blind can take an additional standard deduction amount, based on their age and filing status.
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Maine caps itemized deductions at $29,050, but medical expenses are not subject to that limit. For 2018, 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).
But if you use the standard deduction on your federal return, you must use the Maine standard deduction on your state income tax return. If taxpayers use the married filing separately status, both spouses must either itemize or claim the standard deduction.
Here are some deductions you may be able to itemize in 2018.
- State and local income taxes
- Medical and dental expenses
- Charitable contributions
- Park passes for Maine state parks
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 credits available for 2018 (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
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 to file your Maine income tax
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. EST Monday through Friday.
- You can use a software vendor or online tax-preparation and filing service, like Credit Karma Tax®, that is 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.
If you 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.
Tracking your 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.
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.
Troy Grimes is a tax product specialist with Credit Karma Tax®. He’s worked in tax, accounting and educational software development for nearly 30 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in business administration with an emphasis in business analysis from Texas A&M University. You can find him on LinkedIn.