How to file a Louisiana state tax return

Pubs are alight with neon lights on New Oreleans famed Bourbon StreetImage: Pubs are alight with neon lights on New Oreleans famed Bourbon Street

In a Nutshell

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Louisiana 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.

Mardi Gras in Louisiana means you can party like there’s no tomorrow.

And then, after the carnival is over and the jazz stops, you’ll have to file your Louisiana state income tax return if you live or work in the Pelican State. Here are some things to know about filing Louisiana state tax returns.

What are some basics of Louisiana state taxes?

If you lived in Louisiana for even part of the year, or if you worked in the state and filed a federal income tax return, you’re required to file a Louisiana state tax return. If you’re in the military, your home of record is Louisiana and you have to file a federal return, you’ll also need to file a state tax return.

Taxing body

The Louisiana Department of Revenue manages collection of the state’s individual income tax, as well as other taxes, like Louisiana sales tax, consumer use tax, gift tax and estate transfer taxes.

If you have income tax questions or need technical help while filing your returns online, you can call the Louisiana Department of Revenue at 1-855-307-3893. You can also email your questions directly via a contact form on the agency’s website, which nicely warns you not to send confidential information because email is “not a secure environment.”

Filing and payment deadline

For 2019 state taxes, the state has extended the filing and payment deadline. Louisiana 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, Louisiana 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 Louisiana taxpayers.

While this year is a bit different, the home state of the Big Easy generally gives its residents a bit of a break when it comes to a filing deadline. Louisiana’s Tax Day for personal income taxes is usually on or before May 15 — which gives you a month longer than the typical April deadline for filing your federal income tax returns with the IRS.

Filing statuses

Louisiana recognizes the five federal filing statuses: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household and qualifying widow(er). You must use the same filing status on your Louisiana state return that you claim on your federal return.

Louisiana income tax rates

Louisiana has three tax rates — 2%, 4% and 6%. Your tax rate and tax will depend on your filing status and your Louisiana taxable income.

What are some Louisiana exemptions, deductions and credits to know?

Standard deduction/personal exemption

Louisiana has a combined personal exemption-standard deduction. Here are the 2019 amounts by filing status.

  • Single filers and those married filing separately: $4,500
  • Married filing jointly, qualifying widow(er)s and heads of household: $9,000

There’s also a $1,000 amount for each exemption after the first exemption that filers take. But you won’t see standard deduction or exemption amounts on the IT-540 tax return. The combined personal exemption-standard deduction is included in the calculations the state uses to determine tax amounts shown in the 2019 Louisiana tax table.

Deductions and state tax credits

You might be able to take state tax deductions and credits if you qualify. Keep in mind that eligibility may be subject to caps and income limits. Tax breaks available for the 2019 tax year include the following:

  • Deductions for school tuition, home-school educational expenses and public-school educational expenses
  • An exemption of up to $30,000 of military income for Louisiana residents in the military who were stationed out of state on active duty for 120 or more consecutive days
  • Credits for qualified dependents younger than 6 who attended a qualified childcare facility
  • Exemptions up to a certain amount per beneficiary for contributions to the Louisiana Student Tuition Assistance and Revenue Trust
  • A credit of 29% of the value of the donated property for donating computers or other tech equipment to an educational institution in Louisiana


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

A tax deduction reduces the amount of income you pay taxes on, which could mean you pay less tax. A tax credit is a dollar-for-dollar reduction in the amount of tax you owe. Some tax credits, like the federal earned income tax credit, are refundable. That means if the credit reduces your tax obligation to zero, you could get any leftover portion of the credit refunded to you.

Learn more about the differences between tax deductions and tax credits.

How can I file a Louisiana state tax return?

You can file your Louisiana state tax return and pay any tax you owe electronically or by mailing a paper return. Options include the following:

  • E-filing and paying via the Louisiana Department of Revenue’s free Louisiana File Online service. You’ll need to create an account.
  • Using an approved software vendor from Louisiana’s list of approved vendors to help you calculate and file your federal and Louisiana state tax returns online.
  • Going the paper route. Download tax forms, including Form IT-540— Louisiana’s equivalent of the federal IRS Form 1040 — through the LDR website. Nonresidents with income from Louisiana sources must use Form IT-540B. Part-year residents may also have the option of filing either a resident or nonresident return, depending on which is more beneficial.

Mailing the paper forms:

  • If you owe a payment: Department of Revenue, P.O. Box 3550, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-3550
  • If you expect a refund or face any other situation: Department of Revenue, P.O. Box 3440, Baton Rouge, LA 70821-3440

If you owe taxes, you can pay with your debit or credit card online by clicking on “Individual Income Tax Credit Card Payments,” which takes you to the department’s payments service partner. Or call 1-888-272-9829 to pay taxes by phone with your credit card.

What if I owe and can’t pay?

If you can’t meet the filing deadline, you can request a six-month extension to file your tax return. You must make the extension request before May 15, the tax filing due date for the 2019 tax year. But you still have to pay any Louisiana state income taxes you owe on time to avoid being charged interest and a late-payment penalty.

If you can’t make your full tax payment, you can apply for an installment payment plan for up to six months using Form R-19026.

How can I track a Louisiana tax refund?

Louisiana has a Where’s My Refund? tool to help you track your state refund. You can also use the LDR’s toll-free automated telephone system at 1-888-829-3071 or call 1-225-922-3270 for the Baton Rouge–area office. The expected processing time is up to 45 days for e-filed returns and 12 to 14 weeks for paper returns.

Bottom line

The state tax filing deadline in Louisiana is May 15, so that gives you breathing room to complete your state income tax return — about a month after the typical April 15 filing deadline for federal tax returns. If you’re due a state income tax refund, consider filing both returns by the federal deadline so you can get your state refund sooner.

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: 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 news, she enjoys traveling to seas… Read more.