How to file a Virginia state tax return

Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, is now a National Historic Landmark in Charlottesville, Virginia.DNY59/iStock Unreleased/Getty ImagesImage: Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, is now a National Historic Landmark in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In a Nutshell

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Virginia has extended its payment deadline to June 1, 2020. The filing deadline remains May 1 for individual income tax returns.
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This article was fact-checked by our editors and CPA Janet Murphy, senior product specialist with Credit Karma. It has been updated for the 2019 tax year.

Virginia is one of four states that use the designation “commonwealth.”

But when it comes to income taxes, the commonwealth’s system works just like any other state’s.

If you’re a resident of Virginia for at least part of the year or you owe Virginia state taxes as a nonresident, it’s important to know the state’s unique requirements.

In this guide, we’ll cover deadlines, tax rates, deductions, credits and more.

The basics of Virginia state tax

Virginia state taxes are due a couple of weeks after your federal return, and the penalties for failing to file or pay can be steep. Here’s what else you need to know.

Taxing body

The Virginia Department of Taxation regulates the commonwealth’s taxes. If you have any specific tax-related questions, you can reach customer service at 804-367-8031 if you’re an individual taxpayer, or at 804-367-8037 if you’re a business owner.

Customer service representatives are available from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. If you have an online account, you can reach out with a secure email once you log in.

Filing and payment deadline

For 2019 individual income taxes, the commonwealth has extended the payment deadline but not the filing deadline. Virginia residents must file by May 1 – the normal filing deadline – but now have until June 1, 2020 to pay any state tax they owe. Virginia won’t apply penalties to unpaid balances as long as at least 90% of your outstanding tax payment is paid by June 1. But interest will accrue starting on May 1.

Although this year is a bit different, the due date for most people to file and pay Virginia tax returns is May 1 every year. If, however, that date falls on a weekend or legal holiday, you have until the next business day to file your return on time without getting hit with penalties.

Depending on your situation, other deadlines may also apply. If you can’t manage to file your return by the deadline, the commonwealth will automatically grant you a six-month extension. However, you must still pay your Virginia tax by the original due date of May 1 (for most taxpayers) or risk penalties and interest.

You can make an extension payment online from your bank account (you’ll need your bank routing and account numbers) or by mailing a check or money order with form 760IP to:

Virginia Department of Taxation
P.O. Box 760
Richmond, VA 23218-0760

Be sure to write your Social Security number and the tax period you’re paying for on your check.

Filing statuses

The commonwealth of Virginia recognizes the following filing statuses for residents:

  • Single
  • Married filing jointly
  • Married filing separately

If you’re a nonresident, there’s a separate filing status if you’re married and your spouse has no income from any sources. Note that you’ll file as single even if you filed your federal return as head of household or qualifying widow(er).

Virginia income tax rate(s)

Virginia has a progressive income tax based on the following brackets for 2019:

Virginia taxable income Marginal rate
$3,000 or less 2%
$3,001 – $5,000 3% of amount over $3,000 + $60
$5,001 – $17,000 5% of amount over $5,000 +$120
$17,001 or more 5.75% of amount over $17,000 + $720

States typically have their own deductions and credits beyond what’s offered in the federal tax code, and Virginia is no different. Here’s a quick summary of some of the tax breaks available to individuals and families that aren’t also available on your federal tax return.

Credit for taxes paid to another state

If you’re a Virginia resident and paid income taxes to another state as a nonresident, you may be able to qualify for a credit for those taxes paid.

Low-income individuals credit

If the total Virginia adjusted gross income (VAGI) for your family is below federal poverty guidelines, you may be eligible to claim a credit of up to $300 for each personal and dependent exemption you claim on your Virginia tax return. The VAGI for your family is the Virginia adjusted gross income for you, your spouse (if married) and dependents even if they don’t have to file a Virginia tax return. The credit is nonrefundable.

Learn about the federal Earned Income Tax Credit

Standard deduction

You can take a standard deduction, the amount of which depends on your filing and residency status. The standard deductions for 2019 are:

  • $4,500 for single taxpayers (Filing Status 1 on your Virginia tax return) and those married filing separately (Filing Status 3), and
  • $9,000 for taxpayers married filing jointly (Filing Status 2).

Note that if you itemize deductions on your federal return instead of taking the federal standard deduction, you’re required to also itemize on your Virginia tax return — even if itemizing on your state return would yield a greater tax benefit.

Foster care deduction

If you’re a foster parent, you can deduct $1,000 for each child living in your home under permanent foster care. You must claim the child as a dependent on your federal and state tax returns to qualify.

Virginia college savings plan contributions

If you’re younger than 70 on or before Dec. 31 of the tax year, you can deduct the amount you contributed to one or more Virginia529 accounts, up to $4,000 per account. If you contributed more than $4,000, you can carry forward the amount that wasn’t deducted and use it on future tax returns until the full contribution amount has been deducted. Grandparents and other elders take note: If you’re 70 or older , you can deduct the full amount you contribute, as long as you’re the owner of record for the account.

Sales tax paid on energy-efficient equipment or appliances

You can deduct 20% of the sales taxes you paid on certain energy-efficient equipment or appliances, up to $500 for single filers or $1,000 ($500 per person) if you’re filing a joint return.

Charitable mileage

If you claimed the charitable mileage deduction on your federal tax return, you can take an extra deduction on your Virginia state tax return. Specifically, you can deduct the difference between 18 cents per mile and the mileage rate used to calculate charitable mileage on your federal return.

Note that there are also other tax deductions and credits available, depending on your tax situation.

How to file your Virginia state tax return

You have multiple options for filing your Virginia state tax return, including:

  • FreeFile – This e-filing service was free if you made less than $69,000 during the 2019 tax year.
  • E-file through a free online filing service.
  • E-file through approved paid tax preparation software.

If you want to file a paper return, you can download your tax forms through the state’s website. Once you’ve completed your return, mail it to this address if you’re expecting a refund:

Virginia Department of Taxation
P.O. Box 1498
Richmond, VA 23218-1498

If you owe taxes, mail your return to:

Virginia Department of Taxation
P.O. Box 760
Richmond, VA 23218-0760

If you owe and can’t pay

If you can’t file by the deadline, Virginia allows an automatic six-month extension on your Virginia state tax return. No application is required. But you’ll still need to pay the amount you owe by the original due date to avoid penalties and interest.

Penalties include:

  • Extension penalty: If you get an extension but don’t pay at least 90% of what you owe, you’ll pay a penalty of 2% per month or part of a month, up to 12% total.
  • Late filing penalty: If you file your return after the initial six-month extension ends, the penalty will be 6% per month or part of a month that you’re late, up to 30% total.
  • Late payment penalty: If you file your Virginia state tax return during the six-month extension but don’t pay the amount you owe at the same time, there’s a late-payment penalty of 6% per month, up to 30% total.
  • Interest: In addition to potential penalties, Virginia also charges interest until you settle what you owe. The interest rate is the federal underpayment rate plus 2%.

Keep in mind that you can get penalties waived if you couldn’t meet filing and payment deadlines because of extenuating circumstances. Examples include illness or the death of the taxpayer or tax preparer, or destruction of records by fire, flood or natural disaster. If you owe less than $1,000 in penalties, write to:

Virginia Department of Taxation
P.O. Box 1115
Richmond, VA 23218-1115.

If you owe more than $1,000 in penalties, file an offer in compromise and mail a detailed letter, plus any documentation to support your request, to:

Tax Commissioner
Virginia Department of Taxation
PO Box 2475
Richmond, Virginia 23218-2475

Payment plans

The commonwealth does offer payment plans if you can’t afford to pay all the tax you owe on time. If you owe less than $25,000 in tax, penalties and interest — and meet other criteria — you may be able to set up a payment plan online. If you don’t qualify to establish a payment plan online, you may still be able to make a payment arrangement by calling 804-367-8045.

Be aware that penalties and interest may still accrue while you’re making payments, so you may want to set up the shortest payment plan you can afford.

Tracking your Virginia tax refund

If you qualify for a tax refund, you can track it using the state’s online tool or by calling 804-367-2486. If you use the online tool, be prepared to share your Social Security number, the tax year, your expected refund and how you filed.

You should be able to see the status of your refund 72 hours after you file electronically or four weeks after you mail a paper return.

Bottom line

Your Virginia tax return has a few different requirements than your federal tax return and includes additional potential tax breaks. In addition to getting a later deadline, you may also qualify for some state-specific tax deductions and credits to reduce your tax bill.

A senior product specialist with Credit Karma, Janet Murphy is a CPA with more than a decade in the tax industry. She’s worked as a tax analyst, tax product development manager and tax accountant. She has accounting degrees and certifications from Clemson University and the U.S. Career Institute. You can find her on LinkedIn.

About the author: Ben Luthi is a personal finance freelance writer and credit cards expert. He holds a bachelor’s degree in business management and finance from Brigham Young University. In addition to Credit Karma, you can find his wo… Read more.