2020 Individual Income Tax Checklist

Important: The Department encourages taxpayers to file their individual income tax returns electronically. Electronic filing provides the following benefits:

  • One-stop shop with ability to file and pay state and/or federal together - current, amended, and prior years (up to two years prior to current tax year)
  • Pay by bank draft (no convenience fee) when you eFile your return, or take advantage of payment scheduling options.
  • Faster, easier, more accurate than using paper forms
  • Easy to follow, interview-type prompts
  • Reduce paperwork, attach PDFs as necessary
  • Reduce common math errors (software is programmed to help with math computations)
  • Built-in software tools for help with deduction discovery and audit risk assessment
  • Automatic confirmation when your tax forms and payments are received
  • Direct deposit of your state tax refund – individuals only!

Review the step by step instructions for eFile.

If you plan on filing your return manually, review the steps outlined below.

Step 1 - Read the instructions carefully before you begin preparing your individual income tax return.

Step 1 - Read the instructions carefully before you begin preparing your individual income tax return.

The instructions for individual income tax returns are provided in Form D-401, North Carolina Individual Income Tax Instructions.

When completing your return, remember the following:

  • Do not submit photocopies of the return. Submit original forms only. Do not use any prior year forms.
  • Use black or blue ink only. Do not use red ink or pencil.
  • Write your numbers clearly inside the boxes. Do not use dollar signs ($), commas, decimal points, or other punctuation marks.
  • Do not use brackets to indicate negative numbers. Instead, enter a minus sign in the appropriate space in the web-fill verion of the form and fill in the circle next to the number of the handwritten version of the form.
  • If you do not have an entry for a particular line, leave it blank. Do not enter dashes, zeros, draw lines, or other symbols in boxes that you have no entry for that line.
  • Round off to the nearest whole dollar. Drop amounts under 50 cents and increase amounts from 50 cents to 99 cents to the next whole dollar.
  • Use CAPITAL letters.
  • Fill in applicable circles completely.
  • Each year the Department makes available several different versions of tax forms and schedules, including handwritten and web-fill versions. Do not mix the different versions. If you submit different versions for the same tax year, the Department cannot process your tax return.

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Step 2 - Make sure that you complete and attach the proper tax schedules to your tax return.

Step 2 - Make sure that you complete and attach the proper tax schedules to your tax return.

Incomplete or inaccurate information may result in the Department returning your tax return to you, thereby delaying the processing of your tax return and any refund due. The following questions may help you avoid errors that could delay your refund.

  1. Important: You must enter your entire nine digit social security number(s) (“SSN”) in the appropriate boxes on the forms. An incorrect or missing SSN can increase your tax, reduce your refund, or delay your refund.
  2. Did you attach copies of all W-2 Forms and other statements to verify your North Carolina income tax withheld?
  3. Did you enter the correct amount of North Carolina income tax withheld on the return? Check to be sure you did not mistakenly enter your federal income tax withheld, social security tax, or state tax withheld but paid to another state.
  4. Did you enter the correct social security number? Make sure your correct social security number is on the return and on the W-2 Forms.
  5. Did you enter the correct amount of federal adjusted gross income as the starting point for your North Carolina return? The starting point for the computation of North Carolina taxable income is federal adjusted gross income.
  6. Did you erroneously enter zero as the starting point for the return? Enter your federal adjusted gross income from your federal return on Line 6 of Form D-400. If federal adjusted gross income is a negative number, enter the negative amount and fill in the circle to indicate that the amount is negative. (Note: If you are completing a web-fill-in form on the Department’s website, enter a minus sign to indicate a negative number.)
  7. Did you have any additions to federal adjusted gross income? If yes, you must complete and attach D-400 Schedule S, Part A - Additions to Federal Adjusted Gross Income. The total additions entered on Form D-400 Schedule S,Part A - Additions to Federal Adjusted Gross Income, Line 17, also needs to be entered on Form D-400, Line 7.
  8. Did you have any deductions from federal adjusted gross income? If yes, you must complete and attach Form D-400 Schedule S, Part B - Deductions from Federal Adjusted Gross Income. The total deductions entered on Form D-400 Schedule S, Part-B - Deductions from Federal Adjusted Gross Income, Line 34, also needs to be entered on Form D-400, Line 9.
  9. Did you enter the N.C. standard deduction or N.C. itemized deductions on Line 11 of Form D-400? Please see the Individual Income Tax Instruction Booklet to determine the correct N.C. standard deduction or N.C. itemized deductions. If you claimed the N.C. itemized deductions, you must complete and attach Form D-400 Schedule A, N.C. Itemized Deductions. The total N.C. itemized deductions entered on Form D-400 Schedule A, Line 9, needs to be entered on Form D-400, Line 11.
  10. Were you and/or your spouse either a part-year resident or nonresident?  If so, you must complete and attach Form D-400 Schedule PN, 2020 Part-Year and Nonresident Schedule.  The decimal amount entered on Form D-400 Schedule PN, Line 24, also needs to be entered on Form D-400, Line 13.
  11. Are you required to file Form D-400, Schedule PN-1, Other Additions and Other Deductions? If so, you must attach it to Form D-400.
  12. Did you check only one filing status? You are allowed only one filing status.
  13. Do you want part or all of your refund applied to next year's estimated tax? If you do not, you must leave Line 29 blank on Form D-400.
  14. Did you double check the math on your entire return?
  15. Did you sign and date the return?
  16. Are you amending your individual income tax return Form D-400? If yes, you must fill in the amended return indicator and attach Form D-400 Schedule AM, 2020 North Carolina Amended Schedule to the front of Form D-400, also attach all required schedules and supporting forms, see instructions on pages 24-25 in the North Carolina Individual Income Tax Instructions, Form D-401.
Step 3 - When, Where, and How to File Your North Carolina Return

Step 3 - When, Where, and How to File Your North Carolina Return

Review When, Where, and How to File Your North Carolina Return to make sure that:

  • You file your return by the due date.
  • You send your return/payment to the correct address.
  • You include all required information with your return.