Tips for Filing Massachusetts Personal Income Taxes

Keep up to date with these helpful tips for filing your 2023 Massachusetts personal income tax return.

Updated: January 17, 2024

Table of Contents

Filing Season Updates & Video

Are you looking for the latest tax news and updates?

Go to: 

This year’s Filing Season video and related resources (PDF) are available. Learn about new tax relief, the short-term capital gains tax rate change, the 4% surtax, and more.

Watch the video below.

Tax Year 2023 Filing Season Update - Cheryl Brown is located at the upper right hand corner

Gather All Your Tax Records & Documents

You may need the following:

  • Copies of last year’s federal and state tax returns
  • Personal information including:
    • Legal name(s)
    • Birth date(s)
    • Social Security number(s)
  • Records of your earnings (W-2 forms from each employer or 1099-MISC forms if you’re a contractor)
  • Records of interest and dividends from banks (1099 forms: 1099-INT, 1099-DIV, etc.)
  • Proof of health insurance (1099-HC, 1095-B, etc.)
  • Records of tuition payments and student loan interest paid (1098-T)
  • Records of received Social Security benefits (SSA-1099)
  • Record of received pension or annuity (1099-R)
  • Unemployment compensation statements (1099-G)
  • Total child care expenses and child care provider information, including:
    • Legal name(s)
    • Employer ID
    • Social Security number(s)
  • Total rent paid, as well as landlord or rental agent’s name and address
  • Receipts or canceled checks for items such as:
    • Medical expenses
    • Mortgage interest
    • Charitable contributions if you’re itemizing deductions
  • Bank account and bank routing numbers if having a refund direct deposited.

Note:

Employers, banks, and investment firms have until the end of January to send you records such as W-2 forms and 1099-DIV statements. If you don’t receive your W-2, you should contact your employer.

If you file your taxes before receiving all your employment and income statements, you will have to file an amended return.

E-file This Year

If you filed on paper last year, now is a good time to make the change to e-file. Almost 90% of Massachusetts taxpayers e-file.

Why should you e-file?

  1. Refunds are faster
  2. There’s greater accuracy and
  3. It’s a safe way to file your return.

You may be able to file for free if you qualify. Learn more about e-file.

Paper Is Slower & Leads to Mistakes

Most tax filing errors can be avoided by e-filing your tax return 

When you e-file:

  • Calculations are done for you
  • The correct schedules are included, and
  • Processing is faster, resulting in faster refunds.

If you file on paper, please remember to:

1)  Include all schedules, such as Schedule HC

If you don’t include all the schedules, your return can’t be processed, and your refund will be delayed.

The Schedule HC must be completed and enclosed for all resident returns and most part-year resident returns. Nonresidents are not subject to the Massachusetts Health Care Reform Law. 

If you amend your return, include all the schedules filed with the original return, even if you did not make any changes to those schedules.

2)  Check your math

When you add or subtract, check your numbers. If you claim the Earned Income Tax Credit, make sure the credit amount is correct. Follow each instruction carefully.

3)  Don’t use staples or paper clips

Put checks and other documents inside an envelope. Do not use staples or paper clips. Doing so will slow down the processing of your return.

4)  Recheck your bank numbers

You can have your refund deposited directly into your savings or checking account. Be sure to enter the correct routing and account numbers on your return.

5)  Sign and date your return

Don’t forget to sign your tax return at the bottom of Page 1. The return is not valid without a signature.

If married and filing jointly, you and your spouse must both sign the return. When you owe taxes and are paying by check, don’t forget to sign the check.

Note:

E-file your return to get the fastest tax refund.

If you already filed on paper this year, don't e-file for the same tax year.

Before you contact DOR, you should wait up to 10 weeks to get:

  • Your refund or
  • A request from DOR for more information.

You may also go to Where's My MA Income Tax Refund?

Get Some Free Help With Filing Your Taxes

You may qualify for free filing help from tax professionals. Go to free tax preparation services to see if there is an option that works for you..

Find Out if You Qualify for the Earned Income Tax Credit

EITC is a benefit for working people with low or moderate incomes. You might lower your taxes or get a refund.

Learn more about the Earned Income Tax Credit and how to apply.

When I’m 65 (Circuit Breaker Tax Credit)

Be sure to take advantage of the Circuit Breaker credit if you own or rent a home and meet the qualifications, which include being at least age 65. The maximum credit amount for tax year 2023 is $2,590.

Learn more about the Circuit Breaker Credit, how you apply to receive it, and who can help.

License or State Identification Information on the 2023 Return

Providing this information can strengthen safeguards to:

  • Protect taxpayers from identity theft and
  • Validate the taxpayer’s e-filed return before the return is accepted for processing.

ID information is not required on the Massachusetts tax return. You can choose the option for no ID if you do not want to provide it.

Child and Dependent Related Credits

You may be able to claim the child and family credit on your Massachusetts personal income tax return if your taking care of a:

  • Child
  • Dependent or spouse with a disability, or
  • Dependent age 65 or over.

You may claim this credit if you are a:

  • Single taxpayer
  • Taxpayer filing as head of household
  • Married taxpayer filing jointly.

To learn more, go to Massachusetts Child and Family Tax Credit.

Reporting Unemployment Benefits Received During 2023

If you received unemployment benefits during 2023, you should receive a Form 1099-G, Certain Government Payments, showing the amount of unemployment compensation received.

You must report all of this income on your 2023 Massachusetts Individual Income Tax return:

  • Form 1 for residents or
  • Form 1-NR/PY for nonresidents or part-year residents.      

If you did not receive unemployment benefits during 2023, but you did receive a Form 1099-G reporting unemployment benefits, someone may have used your identity to falsely claim unemployment benefits.

You should notify the Department of Unemployment Assistance (DUA) by: 

Do not report this income on your Massachusetts Individual Income Tax return. After DUA reviews the fraud report, they will send a corrected Form 1099-G.

Keep a copy of all Forms 1099-G with your 2023 tax records and be aware that DOR may ask for an explanation of why the amount shown on the Form 1099-G was not reported on the return.

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