WARNING: Don’t Count on Disaster-Relief from LDR

Last Minute Press Release Leaves Taxpayers Uneasy

Disaster Relief Warning crop

 

On May 11, 2016 (five days ahead of filing deadline), the Louisiana Department of Revenue (LDR) issued a press release reminding the public of Monday’s deadline for filing individual returns and paying taxes.  The press release also addresses the extended deadline for taxpayers residing in federally declared “disaster areas” of Louisiana.  According to the LDR, “disaster-related extensions are not granted automatically”, and “[t]hey must be requested from the Department of Revenue.”

 

Options for Requesting Disaster-Related Extensions

The LDR provides taxpayers with two (2) options for requesting disaster-related extensions, as follows:

  1. E-filers – call LDR Customer Service Center at (855) 307-3893 only after having filed your return, or
  2. Paper filers – write “La. Flooding 2016” on top of form (in black ink).

 

Potential Pitfalls for Taxpayers

Given the Department’s last-second “introduction” of stricter reporting requirements, there are quite a few pitfalls that can harm taxpayers this year.  Be careful not to fall victim to these traps:

  • Unlike the IRS, Louisiana is not allowing an automatic extension (to file and pay) until July 15, 2016,
  • If you file your return on paper and reside in a federally declared “disaster-area”, remember to handwrite the phrase “La. Flooding 2016” on top of your return,
  • E-filers that reside in a “disaster-area” should be prepared for an hours-long telephone call to the LDR’s customer center (and consider themselves lucky if they get through at all), and
  • Do not procrastinate in filing your return and paying taxes.  If the past is an indicator of future behavior, I do not foresee many pardons being granted for lack of punctuality.

 

Recommendations

In light of the Department of Revenue’s updated requirements, it may be necessary to update your tax plans.  Depending on your unique situation, I recommend the following:

  • File your Louisiana tax return or extension by Monday, May 16th,
  • Submit payment of Louisiana income tax with extension or tax return by May 16th,
  • Consider filing your tax return on paper instead of electronically (this is a rare recommendation given the prevalence of e-filing, but I am highly skeptical of LDR’s customer service center), and
  • Familiarize yourself with the bulletin (3/22/2016), blog post (3/23/2016), and press release (5/11/2016) issued by the LDR on this topic.
Final Thoughts

Seldom do I voice an opinion on matters of Louisiana politics and government, but alas, the constant turmoil has become too much to bare in silence.

As if prolonged cuts to higher education and 25% tax hikes were not enough, elected leaders in-charge of the Department of Revenue have affirmed the unorganized, mismanaged culture that permeates our “leadership”. Given such an environment, it is no surprise (but nonetheless a crying shame) that their constituents end up holding the bag. In this instance, the citizens originally harmed by severe storms and flooding will effectively receive a double-dose of bureaucratic bi-product, as they are now being denied a brief, but modest, financial reprieve.

 

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