The Louisiana Department of Revenue is encouraging all taxpayers to file electronically when they submit their 2011 state individual income tax returns.

“Electronic filing is the best way to ensure error-free returns and speedy income tax refunds,” Secretary of Revenue Cynthia Bridges said in a news release.

The department began accepting 2011 Louisiana Individual Income Tax Returns on Jan. 17. The state filing deadline is May 15.

In addition to electronic filing, a careful review of tax returns can help to avoid unnecessary delays. Many refunds are delayed because of common errors and omissions.

Steps to avoid delayed refunds include:

File electronically. The average processing time for refunds is ten business days when using electronic options such as Louisiana File Online, the state’s free tax filing web application. For paper returns, the processing time is 12 to 16 weeks. Visit

Double check the accuracy of your return. Ensure that all Social Security numbers and tax computations are correct. Math errors and incorrect tax table information are leading causes of delayed refunds.

Include all supporting documentation such as W-2s. Use paperclips, not staples, if filing a paper return.

Don’t forget to sign the return.

Update your mailing address with the United States Postal Service and the Louisiana Department of Revenue.

For paper returns, be sure to attach the proper label to the mailing envelope.

To avoid the potential for late fees and other penalties, taxpayers needing additional time to file must request filing extensions in a timely manner. This year’s deadline for a state filing extension request is May 15, 2012. Visit

If a tax payment is due, include the remittance coupon with paper returns to ensure proper posting. Make checks or money orders payable to the Louisiana Department of Revenue. Do not send cash.