How to file a Louisiana state tax return

Pubs are alight with neon lights on New Oreleans famed Bourbon Street, where revelers and workers alike may have to pay Louisiana state tax. Image:

In a Nutshell

If you live or earn an income in The Pelican State, you’ll need to file a Louisiana state tax return in addition to your federal tax return. Here are some things to know about filing your Louisiana state income tax returns.

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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.

The basics of Louisiana state tax

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

The home state of the Big Easy gives its residents a bit of a break when it comes to a filing deadline. Louisiana’s Tax Day for personal income taxes is 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.

Learn more about federal income tax rates and tax brackets

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.

Louisiana exemptions, deductions and credits to know

Although the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 suspended personal exemptions at the federal level, Louisiana has retained its state-level personal exemptions. Here are the combined personal exemption and standard deduction amounts for the 2018 tax year.

  • Single and married filing separately: $4,500
  • Married filing jointly, qualified surviving spouses and heads of household: $9,000

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 2018 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 to file your 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. The Louisiana list of approved vendors includes the free Credit Karma Tax® service, which depending on your filing status can help you calculate and file your federal and Louisiana state tax returns online, depending on your filing status.
  • Going the paper route. Download tax forms, including Form IT-540 — Louisiana’s equivalent of the federal IRS Form 1040 — through the LDR website. Both nonresidents and part-year residents with income from Louisiana sources must use Form IT-540B.

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.

If you 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. But you 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.

Tracking your 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 60 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 Tax®, 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.