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600 E. Boulevard Ave.
  Bismarck, ND 58505-0599
  701.328.7088 phone
  701.328.3700 fax
  877.328.7088 toll-free
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Contact: Cory Fong, Tax Commissioner 701-328-2770
Tuesday, February 14, 2006

MANY NORTH DAKOTA TAXPAYERS MAY BE MISSING OUT ON FREE E-FILE

BISMARCK, N.D. - Tax Commissioner Cory Fong encourages taxpayers to check into the free electronic filing available through the Free File program found on the Tax Department web site www.nd.gov/tax. As the number of North Dakotans e-filing increases, Fong is concerned that citizens might be missing out on a free electronic filing service that has been available since 2003.

“I encourage taxpayers to take a few minutes and review the various offers for free e filing found on our web site,” said Commissioner Fong. “About 70 percent of North Dakota’s resident taxpayers might be eligible for the Free File this year.” Last year approximately 44 percent of the tax filers used e-file, counting both the paid service and the free service, according to Fong.

This is the fourth filing season that the Tax Department has been a member of the Free File Alliance. The Free File Alliance is a partnership between the state and federal governments and software developers. Through this partnership, software companies offer free e-filing for taxpayers who meet certain eligibility criteria. Four companies offer free e-filing for tax filers in North Dakota who meet the requirements. Those requirements vary from company to company and are usually based on age, income, military status or earned income tax credit eligibility.

Fong indicates that there may be some confusion about what is available to someone who wishes to file electronically. Much of it stems from filers accessing the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) web site to complete their federal taxes. In order to avoid accessing a program that does not support North Dakota’s forms, Fong urges taxpayers to e-file through the department’s web site at www.nd.gov/tax. The Tax Department’s site offers several options that allow filers to simultaneously complete and file both their federal (IRS) and North Dakota state returns electronically. And, many of North Dakota’s taxpayers will qualify for filing their federal and state taxes at no charge when accessing the Free File option, also found on the Tax Department’s web site.

And for those who may not qualify for free e-filing, Fong encourages taxpayers to ask their tax preparer to e-file or use one of the online service providers listed on the Tax Department’s web site. Eleven online companies are approved to e-file North Dakota’s tax returns. Taxpayers may purchase software at their local retailer as well. Three companies provide software that taxpayers may purchase and load onto their home computer so they may complete and electronically file their state and federal income taxes.

“If taxpayers choose to pay for an online service, it’s a good idea to shop around for the best deal because taxpayers who file their income taxes online have to file their state and federal returns at the same time,” suggested Fong. “Some vendors charge for either the state or federal return, while others charge for both.”

Fong added that electronic filing is a fast, easy way to file taxes and allows taxpayers to get a refund as quickly as five to seven days versus four weeks if they file by paper. Last year about 147,000 North Dakota taxpayers filed their individual income tax returns electronically. Fong would like to see that number increase to 160,000 returns, or about 50 percent, this year.

For more information about e-file, visit the Tax Department’s web site at www.nd.gov/tax or call 701.328.2770.

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