Common Tax Filing Mistakes to Avoid
When it comes down to filing your taxes, there’s a lot at stake. Not only can you miss out on hundreds – or possibly even thousands – of dollars if you make a mistake, but even the tiniest of errors can lead to colossal and endless problems with the IRS. So, before you take a crack at filing your income taxes, take a second to look at some of the most common tax filing mistakes so you can determine exactly what NOT to do and avoid the monumental headache of dealing with IRS agents and having to hire a tax lawyer to fix them.
According to the IRS website, these are the top eight mistakes taxpayers make when filing their income taxes.
Mistake #1: Inputting the wrong social security number. Sure, we all get distracted when filing taxes. After all, it’s a numbers game and sifting through an entire year’s worth of receipts, expenses, and wages can drive anyone bonkers. But if there’s one number you should make sure to jot down correctly, it’s your social security number. Double, triple, and quadruple-check to ensure you use the correct SSN.
Mistake #2: Misspelling your name. Just as you should take the time to ensure you use the correct social security number when filing your taxes, make sure you list your correct name. You don’t want Peggy Sue or John Doe getting your tax return do you? And you surely don’t want the IRS to come knocking on your door claiming you attempted tax fraud! Make sure your name is listed exactly as it is on your SSN card – middle name and all.
Mistake #3: Filing the wrong status. This one can get tricky. Not everyone knows for sure whether they are the head of household or are filing as “single”. Luckily, the IRS provides a nifty little calculator, called the Interactive Tax Assistant, to help you figure it out. Filing the wrong status can cause you to lose out on a larger return.
Mistake #4: That darn numbers game. One of the easiest and most common mistakes taxpayers make each and every single year is with their mathematical calculations. Don’t worry, it’s not your fault. All that number crunching can do a number on you – no pun intended! Even if you are using the worksheets that the IRS provides, it’s easy to make a mistake. Be sure to double-check your math. Have doubts? Use a tax software program, like Turbo Tax, which will take care of all that math for you or consult with an accountant or tax attorney.
Mistake #5: Deductions and credits. If you’re unsure as to how many credits or deductions you are entitled to, don’t worry, you’re not alone. This is one of the trickiest parts of filing taxes and one of the areas where several people mess up. If you claim a higher number of deductions or credits than you should, you may end up getting a letter from the IRS a few months down the line informing you that you owe the government money. Conversely, if you claim a lower number of credits or deductions than you actually merit, you will end up losing money.
Mistake #6: Incorrect bank account number. This is one mistake you don’t want to make. If you request your refund be automatically credited to your bank account, inputting the wrong account number can cause a delay in receiving your refund.
Mistake #7: Not signing or dating your forms. If you don’t sign and date your tax return, it’s not valid. Don’t forget your Johnny Hancock!
Mistake #8: Using the wrong PIN when filing taxes electronically. If you’re using tax software to e-file your return, make sure you are using the correct PIN number. The PIN is used to identify taxpayers and acts the same way as a signature on paper would. It also helps to prevent tax fraud and identity theft. You can use the same PIN every year, so be sure to keep it in a safe, yet easily accessible place.
Now that you know the most common tax mistakes that taxpayers make, you can focus extra time on these areas to avoid issues with the IRS.