Common Tax Filing Mistakes

South San Francisco, CA   January 18, 2019 Submitted by Dianne,

Benjamin Franklin once said, “But in this world, nothing can be said in certain, except death and taxes.”  You can procrastinate and put off dealing with your taxes until the deadline looms, but you cannot escape them; and worse, you can even incur penalties and delay your refund if you miss the deadline.


If you are expecting a refund from the IRS, you want to receive it the soonest possible time, and mistakes in filing can derail this. Here are common tax-filing mistakes that can delay your tax return process.


  • Failing to disclose all income. If you forget to include all income on your return, the IRS will surely be keen to uncover it. They will let you know that you missed something and, depending on when they discovered it, you can face penalties and interest for the unreported income.


  • Incorrect Social Security Numbers (SSN). Your income statements, retirement plan contributions, savings account interests, among other crucial transactions, are all keyed to your social security number; so do not forget to correctly write down your social security numbers when doing your tax returns. The IRS has stopped putting the SSNs on tax package labels due to privacy issues.


  • Bad Math. These are the most common mistakes done on tax returns. If you want to minimize errors, use tax-software programs to file your return, but you still need to make sure that your initial numbers are correct. Simple typographical errors can make a lot of difference. Discrepancies like these will be spotted by the IRS and they will definitely let you know about them. In a lot of cases, they will be the one correcting the mistake and refigure your taxes for you – but you don’t want to give them the chance, so make sure your numbers are right.


  • Unsigned Forms. You must always sign your return. If you and your spouse are filing jointly, make sure that both you sign he forms. If you forget this, you will have to refile the forms and your return can be held up for weeks.  You can avoid this problem if you file electronically.


  • Spelling Errors. This is particularly important in names. Make sure that all names listed on the return reflect the ones listed on your Social Security card. For recently married women who are changing their surnames, you must alert the Social Security Administration so this change will not cause you any problem when you make your first joint return.


  • Wrong Status. This is another mistake that can be avoided if you file electronically, as the software only allows you to choose one status. If you filing your return on paper, check off the proper filing status.


  • Missing Proper Tax Credits of Deductions. Your credit eligibility depends on your income. Take due diligence in following the instructions. The IRS has an Interactive Tax Assistant to help you determine whether you are eligible for deductions or tax credits.


These are just a few of the common tax filing mistakes. Preparation is still key. Do not wait until the deadline before preparing your tax return. If you find yourself overwhelmed, you can ask for an extension. You can also find a good preparer if you are not very confident that you understand everything that needs to be done.


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