Taxpayers to get Larger Refunds this Year as Massachusetts DOR Kicks Off 1999 Tax Filing Season

January 11, 1999
Ann Murphy / Jeffrey Busha
(617) 626-2251

Acting Revenue Commissioner Bernard F. Crowley, Jr. today issued the first refund checks to taxpayers who used DOR's Telefile and PC file technology to file their 1998 state income taxes. Crowley powered-up the refund machines at DOR's command center located at the Massachusetts Information Technology Center in Chelsea.

Crowley said that the number of taxpayers who will receive refunds on their state income tax returns will dramatically increase due to two major tax cuts totaling $562 million enacted last year. DOR estimates that as many as 400,000 additional taxpayers who had a balance due last year will get a refund on their 1998 state income taxes. This will bring the number of refund recipients to 2.4 million, or almost 80 percent of all income tax filers. Most taxpayers can expect an additional refund of up to $200.

"We guarantee your refund will be in your pocket in less than four days if you file electronically. In just 34 hours since we activated Telefile, there have been 3,300 returns filed and checks are being cut right now," said Crowley.

The first Telefile return was called-in on Monday, at 12:13 a.m., by a taxpayer from Worcester. His refund totals $574. Last year that same taxpayer's refund was $252. At 12:14 a.m. a taxpayer from Medford Telefiled and was issued a refund of $150 compared with last year's refund of $25. The third taxpayer Telefiled at 12:14 a.m. from Haverhill and was issued a refund of $812 compared with $646 last year. The refund increases are due to the two tax cuts. Taxpayers' names were not disclosed due to the confidentiality law.

DOR has mailed thousands of postcards to taxpayers who had to pay last April 15, but most likely will receive a refund this year to encourage them to file electronically, or Efile. Crowley also unveiled DOR's new slogan for the tax filing season, "Call or click. Get it quick!" The slogan is to encourage taxpayers to take advantage of DOR's cutting-edge tax filing technologies. They are: Telefile by touch-tone telephone, PC file by downloading the free software or file electronically with a tax preparer.

Taxpayers may also have their refunds directly deposited into their bank accounts whether they electronically file or file on paper. Credit card payments are also accepted for Telefilers. Electronic filing, or Efile, saves DOR in processing costs due to reduction in labor required to process returns and to the amount of space needed to store paper documents.

Also new this year is the automatic six-month extension on DOR's website. This will be available in early March. Taxpayers who do not owe any tax just fill out the short form on the website and email it to DOR.

Electronic filing, or Efile, saves DOR in processing costs due to reduction in labor required to process returns and to the amount of space needed to store paper documents.

The personal exemptions were doubled, but phased-in over two years, with a 73 percent increase for tax year 1998 and 100 percent increase in tax year 1999. The 1998 personal exemptions were additionally increased due to the FY'98 budget surplus. In addition, in tax year 1999, the rate on unearned income will drop from 12 percent to 5.95 percent.

Highlights of the 1999 Tax Filing Season
  • 400,000 additional taxpayers who paid last year will receive refunds this year due to increases in the personal exemptions.
Personal Exemption Increases
Filing Status Prior Law Tax Year 1997 Tax Year 1998 Increased Savings
Head of Household$3,400$4,065$7,385$237
Married Filing Jointly$4,400$5,260$9,560$307
  • Electronic Filing (Efiling) means faster refunds. File through Telefile, PC File or electronically through a tax practitioner and receive your refund in four days or less.
  • PC File by downloading free software
  • Direct Deposit available for all taxpayers, regardless of how they file their taxes.
  • Credit card payments accepted for Telefilers.
  • File for an automatic 6-month extension through DOR's website beginning in March if you owe no tax.
  • Extended hours for Customer Service telephone assistance from January 11 to February 28 at night and on weekends: Monday through Thursday, 8:45 am to 8:00 p.m., Friday, 8:45 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Saturday, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Call 617-887-MDOR or 1-800-392-6089.
  • Customer Service E-mail. Got a question? Just ask us. All e-mail questions are responded to within 1 - 2 business days.
  • Massachusetts Tax Laws now reflect federal changes, of note:
  1. Roth IRA income is exempt from state income tax, distributions are tax free so long as taxpayer is at least 59 1/2 (or disabled or a first-time homebuyer) and the account is at least 5 years old.
  2. Exclusion for gain on the sale of a principal residence, $250,000 for single filers, $500,000 for joint filers.
  3. Business deductions such as travel, meals and entertainment.