TAX NEWS - DECEMber 2009

Tax Filing requirements and Other Tax Filing Questions for Residents, Nonresidents, Part-Year Residents, and Military Personnel - State of Georgia tax

Q. What are the resident requirements for filing a Georgia Individual Income Tax Return?

A. You are required to file a Georgia income tax return if any of the following apply: (a) You are required to file a Federal income tax return; (b) You have income subject to Georgia income tax but not subject to federal income tax; (c) Your income exceeds Georgia's standard deduction and personal exemptions. These requirements apply as long as your legal residence is Georgia even if you are temporarily absent from the state or live outside the state temporarily. Even though your income may be less than the filing requirements (personal exemption(s) plus standard deduction), you may file a return to receive a refund of tax withheld or to claim a refund for the low income credit.

Q. What are the requirements for a resident who earned income in another state?

A. A full year resident is taxed on all sources of income regardless of where the income is derived. Georgia allows other state credit for income taxes paid to states other than Georgia. A copy of the other state(s) income tax return must be attached to the Georgia return. Use the worksheet in the Georgia instruction booklet (IT-511) to compute the other state credit for a full or part-year resident. If you paid taxes to more than one state, use the total of the other state's income to compute the credit. No credit is allowed for income earned in another state if the income was not taxed by the other state. The credit cannot exceed your Georgia income tax. No credit is allowed for income earned in another country.

Q. What are the tax filing requirements for a nonresident who works in Georgia and/or has other Georgia source income?

A. Nonresidents, who work in Georgia or receive income from Georgia sources and are required to file a Federal income tax return, are required to file a Georgia income tax return. Some examples of Georgia source income are wages, Georgia lottery winnings, income from flow through entities (s-corporations, partnerships, LLC's, trusts, and estates), rents, etc. If you are a legal resident of another state, you are not required to file a Georgia income tax return if your only activity for financial gain or profit in Georgia consists of performing services in Georgia for an employer as an employee when the compensation for services performed does not exceed the lesser of five percent of the income received in all places during the taxable year or $5,000.

Q. What are the filing requirements for military personnel?

A. Military personnel whose home of record is Georgia or who are residents of Georgia are subject to Georgia income tax upon all income regardless of source or where it is earned, unless specifically exempt by Georgia law. Refer to the instruction booklet (IT-511) for additional information.

Q. How do we file a tax return when one spouse is a resident of Georgia and the other is not?

A. If one spouse is a resident of Georgia and one is not, the taxpayer should write three (3) in the residency code block (nonresident) of the Form 500. You must use schedule 3 of Form 500 to calculate your Georgia taxable income.

Q. If we file jointly on the federal return, can I file separately on the state return?

A. Generally a taxpayer must use the same filing status on their Georgia return that they used on their federal return. However, a taxpayer who filed a joint return with a nonresident, who has no Georgia source income, may file a separate return and claim himself or herself only.

Q. What are the tax law rules for changing filing status from married filing separate to married filing joint and married filing joint to married filing separate?

A. If taxpayers filed separate returns, they may change to a joint return for that year any time within three years from the due date of the separate return or returns. If they filed a joint return, they cannot choose to file separate returns for that year after the due date of the return. Exception: A personal representative for a decedent may change from a joint return elected by the surviving spouse to a separate return for the decedent. The personal representative has one year from the due date of the return to make the change.

Q. Does Georgia recognize common law marriages?

A. Prior to 1997, Georgia recognized common law marriages. Georgia no longer recognizes common law marriages that occurred after 1996.

Q. What should I do if I received an additional W-2 or 1099 after I filed my return?

A. File Form 500X to amend your return.

Q. If I need to file for prior years, can I use the current year return?

A. Some prior year forms are available on our website. Other prior year forms can be ordered by calling 1-877-GADOR11 (1-877-423-6711) .

Q. If I owe tax, can I file without paying?

A. Yes. Pay as much as possible and be sure to file by the deadline to avoid a late filing penalty. If you are unable to pay the full amount of tax due as shown on your individual income tax return, you may request monthly installment payments. To apply for an installment agreement, complete and file your return by the due date. Place Form GA-9465 on top of your return and submit it along with your return or when you receive a bill for the balance due, submit a written request for an installment payment plan to the Installment Program Section, P.O. Box 740396, Atlanta, GA 30374-0396. You may also call (404) 657-0295 to request an installment payment plan once you receive a bill. To minimize the interest and penalty charges, you are encouraged to pay as much of the tax as possible by April 15. If you would like to make additional payments before receiving a bill, send payments to: Installment Program Section, P.O. Box 740396, Atlanta, GA 30374-0396. Be sure to write the tax year and your social security number on the check. Note: Interest and late payment penalties will apply to any amount not paid by April 15, even if your request to make installment payments is granted. Before requesting an installment payment agreement, you should consider less costly alternatives.

Q. How do I obtain an extension for filing my Georgia income tax return?

A. There are two ways to obtain an extension:

1. Georgia will accept a copy of the Federal extension attached to the Georgia return when filed; or

2. You may file an extension on Georgia Form IT-303.

An extension to file extends the filing date only, it does not extend the date for paying the tax. The tax must be paid by the due date of the return. Georgia Form IT-560 is used to pay the tax.

Q. Normally Georgia will accept the automatic federal extension to file (form 4868) if it is attached to the Georgia return. What procedure should be used if the federal extension was obtained over the telephone or electronically?

A. The instructions to the 4868 indicate that before you call or file electronically you should fill in form 4868 as a worksheet. If you did not fill in this 4868 worksheet as they requested, fill one in now with the appropriate information. Attach this 4868 worksheet to your Georgia return. Also, write "filed extension by telephone" or "filed extension electronically" and the IRS confirmation number on the top of the 4868 worksheet. If you eventually file your return electronically, it is not necessary to send us a copy of the 4868 worksheet. The 4868 worksheet should be retained with your copy of the return.

Q. Can I file from my personal computer?

A. Yes, click here for additional information.

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