How to File Your State Tax Return in New Jersey

Are you a resident of New Jersey? Are you unsure of how to file your state tax return? Look no further! This article will provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to file your state tax return in New Jersey, ensuring that you can navigate the process smoothly and accurately. From gathering the necessary documents to understanding the different filing options available, we’ve got you covered. By following these simple instructions, you’ll be able to file your state tax return with ease and confidence, avoiding any unnecessary stress or confusion.

Gather necessary documents

Before you can start filing your state tax return in New Jersey, it’s important to gather all the necessary documents. Having everything ready will help streamline the process and ensure that you have all the information you need at your fingertips. Here are the documents you will need:

Your federal tax return

Your federal tax return contains valuable information that will be needed to complete your state tax return. Make sure you have a copy of your most recent federal return on hand.

W-2 forms

If you are an employee, you will need your W-2 form from your employer. This form will provide information about your wages, taxes withheld, and other important details related to your employment.

1099 forms

If you received miscellaneous income throughout the year, such as freelance work or rental income, you will likely receive 1099 forms. Make sure you have all the necessary 1099 forms to accurately report your income.

Income statements

Any other income you received throughout the year should be documented with income statements. This includes income from investments, retirement accounts, and any other sources not covered by W-2 or 1099 forms.

Proof of deductions

If you plan to claim deductions on your state tax return, make sure you have the necessary proof to support your claims. This includes receipts, invoices, and any other documentation related to your eligible deductions.

Determine your filing status

Your filing status determines how you will file your state tax return and what deductions and credits you may be eligible for. There are several filing statuses to choose from in New Jersey:


If you are unmarried or legally separated, you can file as a single individual.

Married filing jointly

If you are married and want to file your taxes jointly with your spouse, you can choose the married filing jointly status. This status can often result in lower tax liability for couples.

Married filing separately

Alternatively, if you are married but want to keep your finances separate from your spouse, you can choose the married filing separately status. It’s important to note that this status may result in a higher tax liability compared to filing jointly.

Head of household

If you are unmarried and have dependents, you may be eligible to file as head of household. This status offers certain tax benefits to individuals who financially support their dependents.

Qualifying widow(er)

If your spouse passed away within the past two years, you may be eligible to file as a qualifying widow(er). This status provides certain tax benefits for individuals who have recently lost their spouse.

Choose the appropriate filing method

Once you have determined your filing status, it’s time to choose the filing method that best suits your needs. In New Jersey, you have two options:

Paper filing

If you prefer the traditional method of filing your taxes, you can choose to file your state tax return on paper. This involves filling out the necessary forms and mailing them to the appropriate tax authority.

Online filing

Alternatively, you can take advantage of the convenience and efficiency of online filing. New Jersey offers an online platform where you can electronically file your state tax return. This method saves time and reduces the risk of errors.

Ensure eligibility for free filing options

Before you start preparing your tax return, it’s important to determine if you are eligible for any free filing options. The state of New Jersey offers free filing options for certain individuals based on income, age, and software availability.

Income requirements

Most free filing options in New Jersey are based on income. The income threshold for eligibility may vary from year to year, so make sure you check the current requirements. If your income falls below the designated threshold, you may be eligible to file your state tax return for free.

Age restrictions

In addition to income requirements, there may be age restrictions for certain free filing options. For example, some programs may only be available to individuals of a certain age or older. Be sure to check the specific criteria for each program.

Software options

Free filing options often come in the form of software programs that guide you through the tax preparation process. These programs are designed to simplify the process and ensure accuracy. Make sure to check which software options are available for free filing in New Jersey.

Prepare your tax return

With all the necessary documents gathered and your eligibility for free filing options determined, it’s time to start preparing your state tax return. Here are the key steps involved:

Basic personal information

Start by providing your basic personal information, such as your name, address, and Social Security number. Make sure you double-check this information for accuracy to avoid any delays or issues with your return.

Income details

Next, report all your income for the tax year. This includes income from employment, self-employment, investments, and any other sources. Use the documents gathered earlier to accurately report your income.

Deductions and credits

Take advantage of all eligible deductions and credits to minimize your tax liability. New Jersey offers various deductions and credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Homestead Benefit Program. Make sure you review the available options and claim them if applicable.

Review for accuracy

Before submitting your tax return, carefully review all the information you have provided. Check for any errors or omissions that could impact the accuracy of your return. Taking the time to review your return can help avoid costly mistakes and potential audits.

Calculate your tax liability

Once your tax return is prepared and accurate, it’s time to calculate your tax liability. There are several methods you can use to calculate your tax owed:

Use tax tables

If you are filing your state tax return on paper, you can refer to the New Jersey tax tables to determine your tax liability. These tables provide a breakdown of tax rates based on your income and filing status.

Utilize tax software

If you chose to file your taxes online, the tax software you are using will automatically calculate your tax liability for you. This eliminates the need for manual calculations and ensures accuracy.

Consider online calculators

If you prefer a more hands-on approach, you can use online tax calculators to estimate your tax liability. These tools allow you to input your information and instantly calculate your tax owed.

Decide whether to itemize deductions

When filing your state tax return, you have the option to either take the standard deduction or itemize your deductions. Here are the factors to consider when making this decision:

Compare standard deduction vs. itemized deductions

The standard deduction is a set amount that you can subtract from your taxable income without having to itemize. Itemized deductions, on the other hand, require you to list and provide proof of each eligible deduction. Compare the potential tax savings of both methods to determine which is more beneficial for your situation.

Review eligible deductions

If you decide to itemize deductions, make sure you review the list of eligible deductions provided by the state of New Jersey. Common itemized deductions include mortgage interest, charitable contributions, and medical expenses. Determine which deductions you qualify for and gather the necessary documentation.

Calculate potential tax savings

Once you have determined which deductions you will itemize, calculate the potential tax savings compared to taking the standard deduction. If the difference is significant, itemizing may result in lower tax liability.

Make payment or seek a refund

After calculating your tax liability, it’s time to either make a payment or seek a refund.

Pay your tax liability

If you owe taxes, make sure to promptly pay your tax liability to avoid any penalties or interest charges. The state of New Jersey provides various payment options, including electronic payment methods and payment plans.

Consider electronic payment options

Electronic payment options, such as direct debit or credit card payments, offer convenience and speed. They ensure that your payment is processed quickly and accurately, minimizing the risk of late fees.

Check refund status

If you are expecting a refund, you can check the status of your refund online. The New Jersey Division of Taxation provides a tool where you can track the progress of your refund and get an estimated arrival date.

Submit your state tax return

Before submitting your state tax return, make sure to go through the following steps:

Review your completed return

Take the time to review your completed tax return one last time. Confirm that all the information is accurate and matches the supporting documents you have gathered.

Include all necessary forms and schedules

Double-check that you have included all the necessary forms and schedules with your state tax return. Missing documents can cause processing delays or trigger inquiries from tax authorities.

File by the deadline

Finally, make sure to file your state tax return by the deadline. In New Jersey, the deadline for filing individual tax returns is typically April 15th. Filing late may result in penalties and interest charges.

Keep copies for your records

Once your state tax return is filed, it’s important to keep copies for your records. Here’s what you should do:

Maintain copies of your tax return

Keep a copy of your filed state tax return for your records. This will serve as a reference if you need to review your tax information in the future. Store it in a safe place, such as a designated folder or an encrypted digital storage solution.

Organize supporting documents

In addition to your tax return, keep organized copies of all the supporting documents you used to prepare your return. This includes your W-2 forms, 1099 forms, income statements, and proof of deductions. Having these documents easily accessible can be helpful in case of an audit or when preparing future tax returns.

Store in a secure location

Ensure that your copies and supporting documents are stored in a secure location. This could be a locked filing cabinet, a secure cloud storage service, or a safe deposit box. Protecting your tax-related documents is crucial for maintaining the privacy and security of your financial information.

By following these steps, gathering the necessary documents, determining your filing status, choosing the appropriate filing method, ensuring eligibility for free filing options, preparing and reviewing your tax return, calculating your tax liability, deciding on deductions, making payments or seeking refunds, submitting your state tax return, and keeping copies for your records, you can successfully file your state tax return in New Jersey. With careful preparation and attention to detail, you can navigate the tax filing process with ease. Remember to consult with a tax professional or refer to the official resources provided by the New Jersey Division of Taxation if you have any specific questions or concerns. Happy filing!


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