How to file a Maryland state tax return

A pile of bright, red crabs with a boat and marina in the background. The state of Maryland is famous for its crabs and fishermen are subject to Maryland state tax just like other residents of the state.Image: A pile of bright, red crabs with a boat and marina in the background. The state of Maryland is famous for its crabs and fishermen are subject to Maryland state tax just like other residents of the state.

In a Nutshell

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Maryland 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.

Like most states, Maryland has complicated personal income tax laws, so filing your state taxes could make you feel downright crabby.

But you can make the process less painful by learning more about how to file your Maryland state taxes. Getting up to speed on credits and deductions might also help you reduce your overall state tax burden.

What are the basics of Maryland state taxes?

If you want to prepare and file a state tax return in Maryland, here’s some info that could help make the process easier.

Taxing body

The Comptroller of Maryland is responsible for collecting taxes from individual taxpayers. It has 12 branch offices and offers free in-person tax preparation services.

There are four ways to get help with filing your tax forms and making your tax payments.

  • Call 1-800-638-2937 or 1-410-260-7980 from central Maryland, Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. Feb. 3 to April 15, 2020, if you have any tax questions. During tax season, the phone lines have extended hours. Hearing-impaired or TTY users should call via Maryland Relay at 711.
  • Email
  • Visit a branch office.
  • Mail your queries, including your name, address and other details, to …
    Comptroller of Maryland
    Revenue Administration Center
    Taxpayer Service Section
    110 Carroll Street
    Annapolis, MD 21411-0001

Filing and payment deadline

For 2019 state taxes, Maryland has extended the filing and payment deadline. Maryland residents now have until July 15, 2020 to file their state returns and pay any state tax they owe. As with the federal deadline extension, Maryland 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.

While this year is a little different, generally the annual deadline to file your state tax returns in Maryland is April 15. If that’s a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, the deadline for the tax filing season is extended to the next business day.

If you requested a federal extension and don’t expect to owe any tax to Maryland, but you need more time to file your state return, the commonwealth grants an automatic six-month filing extension — and you don’t have to request a separate state extension to get it. But if you owe tax, you should submit Form 510C to request an extension and pay any amount due. You can submit an extension request online through the state’s iFile interactive application.

Filing statuses

Maryland recognizes six tax filing statuses.

  • Dependent (for any individual who can be claimed as a dependent on someone else’s federal return, regardless of the individual’s marital status)
  • Head of household
  • Single
  • Qualifying widow(er) with a dependent child
  • Married filing jointly
  • Married filing separately

For more details, check a chart on the comptroller’s website. It says most individual taxpayers should use their federal filing status.

How your tax-filing status affects your tax bill

Filing requirements

If your Maryland gross income (which is your total federal income plus any Maryland additions to income) exceeds the threshold for your filing status, you’ll likely have to file a Maryland state tax return. Here are the minimum filing levels for 2019 taxes.

Filing status Maryland gross income
Younger than 65 65 or older
Single $12,200 $13,850
Married filing separately $12,200 $12,200
Head of household $18,350 $20,000
Married filing jointly $24,400 $25,700 (one spouse 65 or older)

$27,000 (both spouses 65 or older)

Qualifying widow(er) $24,400 $25,700

What are Maryland’s income tax rates?

Maryland has two tax rate schedules: one for taxpayers whose filing status is single, dependent or married filing separately; and another one for taxpayers whose filing status is head of household, qualifying widow/widower or married filing jointly. Each schedule has eight tax brackets, with rates ranging from 2% to 5.75% and a set amount of tax associated with each bracket.

Maryland personal exemption

Although personal exemptions have been suspended for your federal income taxes, you may be able to take one for your Maryland state taxes.

If your federal adjusted gross income is $100,000 or less, you’ll likely qualify for a $3,200 personal exemption (unless you’re filing as a dependent eligible to be claimed on someone else’s tax return). Exemption amounts are reduced for single filers with federal AGI of more than $100,000 and at $150,000 for those married filing jointly, as head of household or as a qualifying widow(er). And it phases out completely for single or married filing separately taxpayers with federal AGI of more than $150,000. For joint filers, heads of household and qualifying widow(er)s, it phases out at $200,000-plus.

What are some Maryland deductions?

Maryland offers both standard deduction amounts and the ability to itemize deductions, but the option you can use will depend on how you filed your federal income tax return.

Maryland standard deduction

Maryland’s standard deduction allows taxpayers to reduce their Maryland adjusted gross income by 15%, with minimums and maximums set depending on filing status.

The standard deduction for taxpayers filing as single, married filing separately or dependent taxpayer ranges from $1,500 to $2,250, depending on your income. Taxpayers filing as married filing jointly, head of household or qualifying widow(er) have a standard deduction range of $3,050 to $4,550.

If you took the standard deduction on your federal return, you must also take the Maryland standard deduction on your state return. But if you itemized on your federal return, you can opt to either itemize on your Maryland state return or take the state standard deduction.

Itemized deductions

For 2019, Maryland offers a number of subtractions that you can use to reduce your taxable income. Here are a few.

  • If you adopt a child with special needs through a public or nonprofit adoption agency, you can deduct up to $6,000 in related expenses. The deduction is up to $5,000 for adopting a child without special needs.
  • If you are active-duty military, you can deduct up to $15,000 of federally taxable military pay if you earned it while serving overseas. You must meet income limitations to take this subtraction.
  • Starting in 2019, if qualified, you may be able to subtract up to $15,000 of military retirement income, including death benefits, that you receive if you’re 55 or older, and up to $5,000 if you’re younger than 55.
  • Parents of foster children may be able to subtract up to $1,500 of unreimbursed expenses incurred on behalf of their foster child. The foster parent and child must meet certain qualifications.
  • If you purchase a Maryland Prepaid College Trust or contribute to a Maryland college investment plan, you may be able to deduct up to $2,500 (if you meet certain qualifications).
  • If you do a living organ donation, you may be able to subtract up to $7,500 of unreimbursed travel and lodging expenses and lost wages incurred because of the donation.
  • Filers teaching full time in a Maryland elementary or secondary school (K–12) may deduct up to $250 ($500 for joint filers) of unreimbursed expenses they paid during the tax year to buy supplies for their students to use in the classroom — or that they used in preparation for or during teaching in the classroom. But they can’t deduct the same expenses that they used to claim an educator’s tax deduction on their federal return.

What are some Maryland tax credits?

Maryland offers a number of tax credits and deductions for taxpayers who qualify. The list includes the following:

  • Earned income tax credit — Maryland residents who claimed and received the federal earned income tax credit may be able to receive a state-level credit, provided they meet eligibility and income requirements.
  • Student loan debt relief credit — If you’ve spent at least $20,000 on undergraduate or graduate student loan debt, or both, you may be able to take this credit.
  • Child and dependent care credit — If you were eligible for the federal child and dependent care credit, and you meet income requirements, you may be able to take a tax credit equal to a percentage of your federal credit. And starting in 2019, a portion of the credit may be refundable.
  • State poverty level credit — If your Maryland state tax is more than 50% of your federal earned income credit, and both your earned income and federal adjusted gross income are below the poverty level for the number of people in your family, you may be able to claim a nonrefundable credit of 5% of your earned income.
  • Quality teacher incentive credit — Qualified teachers who paid tuition to take graduate courses required to maintain their teaching certification may qualify for a tax credit.
  • Venison donation credit  Hunters with a deer management permit who legally hunt and harvest an antlerless deer can donate the processed meat to a venison donation program to feed people in need in Maryland. By doing this, you can receive a credit of up to $50 per deer, up to a maximum of $200 in any tax year, with some exceptions.
  • Endowments of Maryland historically black colleges and universities — If you make a donation to certain permanent funds at Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University or the University of Maryland Eastern Shore (historically black schools), you may be able to take a credit of 25% of the donation amount.

How can I file a Maryland state tax return?

You can e-file your state tax return using external services such as professional tax preparers or software. You can also file on the Maryland comptroller’s website, drop off a paper return at any of the branch offices or mail a paper return. The tax can be paid by personal check, money order, credit card or, if you file electronically, by direct debit. If you use a credit card, you’ll have to pay a convenience fee.

What if I owe and can’t pay?

If you can’t pay your taxes by the filing deadline, you can request a payment plan. But you should still file your state tax return by the filing deadline. You can seek a payment arrangement by …

  • Setting up a new payment agreement online
  • Calling 1-410-974-2432 or 1-888-674-0016
  • Replying to the tax bill you receive for the amount due

If you don’t arrange a payment plan or pay your taxes, the state can take a number of enforcement actions, including …

  • A late payment penalty of up to 25% of the tax amount you owe
  • Interest charges
  • Nonrenewal of motor vehicle license and registration
  • Withholding renewal of certain state-issued business or professional licenses
  • Interception of state or federal tax refunds or vendor payments
  • Salary lien
  • Tax lien on assets
  • Seizure of bank accounts, cash, liquor licenses, equipment, vehicles, business inventory or real property
  • Posting tax delinquency information online
  • Referral of debt to a collection agency

Can I track a Maryland tax refund?

You can track your Maryland tax refund in three ways.

  • Call 1-410-260-7701 or 1-800-218-8160
  • Email
  • Go online to the Maryland tax website

Bottom line

The Maryland comptroller’s website has a lot of well-organized and taxpayer-friendly information to help you pay what you owe. If you have more questions or you’re ready to file your return, click on “Maryland Taxes” on the site’s home page, scroll down to “Individual Taxpayers,” look for “Information by Tax Type” and then click on the “Income Tax” link to find everything you need.

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: Marcie Geffner is an award-winning freelance reporter, editor, writer and book critic. Her work has been featured online and in print by the Chicago Sun-Times, Fox Business Network Online, Los Angeles Times, The Washi… Read more.