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OK, it's not as hopeful or as expectant as counting down shopping days until Christmas, but the clock is ticking down on the midnight April 19 deadline for filing state income tax — and one day less, midnight April 18, for the federal income tax return.

The different filing deadlines stem from the Emancipation Day holiday celebrated this year in the District of Columbia on Friday, April 15, the traditional filing deadline for state and federal income tax. Since Washington D.C. is on holiday that day, including the IRS, federal tax returns are due on Monday, April 18.

But April 18 in Massachusetts is a state holiday, Patriot's Day, so state tax returns are not due until April 19.

The pace of tax filing has picked up. As of Monday, March 7, 1,097,766 state income tax returns have been filed, with an estimated 3.3 million returns expected. Last year at this time, 12,626 fewer returns had been filed. Nearly 90 percent of those returns (89.2 percent) have been filed electronically, up 2 percent from a year ago.

As in past years, the vast majority of taxpayers filing as of today — 80.65 percent — are receiving refunds, not tax bills. The number of refunds issued, 885,354, is up 25,881 or 3 percent from a year ago, with the average refund $479 as opposed to $488 a year ago. Taxpayers have received $424,521,852 in refunds, up from the $419,819,466 returned to taxpayers at this same time a year ago.

The average time processing paper returns is 5.6 business days, a day quicker than year ago, while the average time process electronic returns is 3.3 business days, .1 percent better than a year ago. Direct deposit of refunds is occurring in 68 percent of returns, up from 64 percent a year ago.

Remember, if you haven't filed your state return, check out WebFile for Income, a free, secure and reliable way to file electronically. And DOR's homepage, www.ma.gov/dor, is full of tax filing tips and helpful information. You can also check the status of your refund from the homepage.

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