Do All States Require a Copy of the Federal Tax Return When Filing Your State Return?

by Ryan Cockerham ; Updated June 28, 2018

When it comes time to file your annual tax return, you may be asking yourself whether it is mandatory to file a copy of your federal return alongside your state return. Depending upon the state you live in, submitting this combination of forms may be required for your state return to be processed. Knowing how to locate this valuable information can help ensure that your taxes are files as efficiently and accurately as possible.

General Rules

Although some states require you to submit your federal return alongside your state return, the reverse situation in which the federal government would require you to submit your state return is never the case. That being said, one important similarity between these two filings is that both returns have the same deadline for receipt. With that in mind, even though you likely will be sending these returns different places, you must ensure that both are completed within the same time frame.

Learning About Your State's Rules

Because the Internal Revenue Service has no specific authority over the taxation laws of your state, you must consult with the Department of Revenue or equivalent taxation department in your state to learn more about the filing instructions for your location. If you are preparing your taxes without the aid of a CPA or electronic filing service, the responsibility for determining whether or not you are required to jointly file your federal and state return with your state's taxation department rests on your shoulders. If, however, you are filing your taxes with the assistance of a CPA or an online service, this process likely will be much more streamlined.

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Notable Exceptions

In a small number of states, you will not be required to file state income tax at all. These states are Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Wyoming and Washington. If you are a resident in any of these states, you can ignore the process of filing state income tax and focus solely on your federal return. Residents of New Hampshire and Tennessee must file a return only for income that stems from interest and dividends, though Tennessee intends to phase that out by 2021. An important point to remember, however, is as follows: if you live in a state that does require income tax reporting and you were paid in part from a state that does not require income tax reporting, you will still have to report this income in the state you currently live in.

About the Author

Ryan Cockerham is a nationally recognized author specializing in all things innovation, business and creativity. His work has served the business, nonprofit and political community. Ryan's work has been featured at Pocket Sense, Zacks Investment Research, SFGate Home Guides, Bloomberg, HuffPost and more.

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