Getting Started With Your State Income Taxes

Whether you e-file or file by paper, planning ahead will help you avoid problems and delays with your income taxes. 

First:  click here to determine if you should file a North Carolina individual income tax return. 

Second:  determine your federal adjusted gross income, which is the starting point for your State individual income tax return.  You determine that figure by completing a federal income tax return.  Click here to get started with your federal return. 

Once you have determined that you should file, review these tips to give you a head start on your State income taxes:

  1. Review What’s New for Tax Year 2016.
  2. Review the instructions on how to file your State taxes
  3. Gather your records in advance.  Make sure you have all the records you need, including wage and tax statements (Form W-2) from employers, retirement distribution statements (Form 1099-R) from pension payers, and interest and dividend statements from financial institutions. Don’t forget to save copies for your files.  Filing before you receive all your records could cause you to have to file an amended Form D-400. 
  4. Get the right forms.  Form D-400 is the North Carolina individual income tax return. If you have additions to federal adjusted gross income, deductions from federal adjusted gross income, North Carolina itemized deductions, or you were either a part-year resident of North Carolina during the taxable year or a nonresident and you received income from North Carolina sources, you are required to also complete and attach Form D-400 Schedule S, North Carolina Supplemental Schedule to Form D-400 (Pages 1 and 2). If you are claiming tax credits, you must attach Form D-400 TC.  Those forms, and others, are available on the North Carolina Department of Revenue website. 
  5. A new section, Veteran Information has been added to page one of Form D-400. You and your spouse, if filing a joint return, can voluntarily indicate whether you or your spouse are veterans or not by filling in the “yes” circle. If married filing separately, do not complete the information for your spouse. (see Page 6 of Form D-401.)

Remember: Please don't file photocopies of tax forms. That could delay the processing of your return or cause errors that would require you to file an amended return.

Remember The Deadline!

Unless you file for an extension, State income tax returns are due April 15. However, for tax year 2016, you have until Tuesday, April 18, 2017 to file your return because April 15 is on a Saturday and April 17 is the Emancipation Day holiday observed in the District of Columbia.

Free Tax Help Is Available

The IRS Volunteer Income Tax Assistance Program (VITA) generally offers free tax help to people who make $54,000 or less.  The IRS also offers tax help for seniors through its Tax Counseling for the Elderly program (TCE). There are VITA and TCE sites across the state where trained volunteers can answer your questions, file your taxes and help you take advantage of any tax credits for which you are eligible.

Click here to learn more about VITA and TCE.  

You can call 1-800-829-1040 to find the VITA or TCE site near you.  

Tips For Preparing Your Taxes

When you are ready to fill out your tax forms, remember these tips:

  1. Take your time.  Don’t rush it when you’re filling out your forms; that’s how people make mistakes, particularly with their math.
  2. Do not mix different types (paper, web, web fill-in, software-generated) of tax forms and schedules. All forms and schedules submitted must be the same type; if not, your return can not be processed.
  3. Double-check your math and verify your individual information, including your address and all Social Security numbers.  These are among the most common errors found on tax returns.  Taking care will reduce your chance of hearing from the IRS or NCDOR and speed up your refunds.
  4. File electronically.  E-filing is a quick, convenient and secure way to file both your federal and state taxes.  Many North Carolina taxpayers will qualify for free or low-cost e-filing. 

  5. Don’t panic.  If you have a problem or a question, remember that both the IRS and NCDOR are available to help.  Call the IRS customer service number at 1-800-829-1040 or the NCDOR taxpayer assistance number at 1-877-252-3052.