Tips for Filing Massachusetts Personal Income Taxes

Keep up to date with these helpful tips for filing your 2021 Massachusetts personal income tax return.

Updated: July 26, 2022

Table of Contents

E-file this year

If you are still filing on paper, it’s a good time to make the change to e-file. Almost 90% of Massachusetts taxpayers file electronically. Refunds are faster, there’s greater accuracy and it’s a safe way to file your return. Most can file for free. Learn more about e-file.

Get some free help with filing your taxes

You may qualify for free help from tax professionals in preparing your tax return. See what’s available and choose something that works for you. Learn more about free tax preparation services.

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. There are some requirements. You will need to file a tax return, even if you don’t owe any tax or aren’t required to file. Learn more about the Earned Income Tax Credit.

When I’m 65

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. It could mean just over $1,000 for you. Learn more about the Circuit Breaker Credit, how you apply to receive it, and who can help.

License or state identification information on the 2021 return

Providing this information can strengthen safeguards to protect taxpayers from identity theft and validate the taxpayer’s electronically-filed return before the return is accepted for processing.

ID information is not required on the Massachusetts tax return, and the option for no ID can be chosen if the taxpayer does not wish to provide it.

Avoid common tax filing mistakes for a faster refund

Most tax filing errors can be avoided by filing your tax return electronically using software that is commercially available and free to use for the majority of taxpayers. Calculations are done for you, the correct schedules are included, and processing is faster, resulting in faster refunds. If you file on paper, please avoid these common mistakes.

1)  Enclose the right schedules – like healthcare Schedule HC

If the right schedules are not included, your return cannot be processed and refunds are delayed. The Schedule HC must be included with every return – please be sure it’s filled out completely and accurately. If you amend your return, include all the schedules filed with the original return, even if there are no changes to those schedules.

2)  Check your math

Double-check your arithmetic. It’s important that you add or subtract correctly. If you are claiming the Earned Income Tax Credit, calculate the correct amount for your status. Follow the instructions carefully.

3)  Don’t use staples or paper clips

Please do not attach checks or other documents to your return with staples or paper clips. It will definitely slow down the processing of your return.

4)  Recheck bank account numbers

Receiving your refund as a direct deposit to your bank account is a good idea. Just be sure that your bank account number is entered correctly on your return.

5)  Include your signature

Please sign your tax return on the bottom of page 1. The return is not valid without a signature. If filing a joint return, both spouses will sign. When you owe taxes and are paying by check, the check must be signed. It sounds obvious, but it’s often forgotten

Reporting unemployment benefits received during 2021

If you received unemployment benefits or pandemic unemployment benefits during 2021, 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 2021 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 or pandemic unemployment benefits during 2021, 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 filing a fraud report online or call the DUA customer service department at 877-626-6800. 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 2021 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.


Child and dependent related credits

Starting with the 2021 tax year, when filing your Form 1 or Form 1-NR/PY return, you can choose between the following 2 credits:

  1. Child care expenses credit:
    • For children under age 13
    • Disabled dependent or spouse.
  2. Dependent member(s) of household credit:
    • For children under age 12
    • Dependents age 65 or over (as of December 31, 2021)
    • Disabled dependents.

If you qualify for both, you cannot claim 2 credits. You are only allowed the greater of the 2 credits. 

Learn more about child and dependent related credits.



Tax Department (617) 887-6367
Toll-free in Massachusetts (800) 392-6089

9 a.m.–4 p.m., Monday through Friday