It’s the season for dealing with all those tax details you have been putting off until now, but when tending to the money issues you need to make sure the IRS forms you fill out are completed correctly. Incorrect information will delay any refund you may be getting, but in general making a mistake on any form will have you revisiting the process again. Maximize your time and move forward by avoiding these 10 common filing errors.
1. Incorrect SSN.
This is not only entering your own Social Security Number but that of your spouse, children, or other dependents you are claiming. One of the biggest reasons for this happening is that people depend too much of their tax preparation software to fix everything. SSNs are one thing software can’t fix, so take your time, double check the information, and be sure to have the SSNs available somewhere else instead of your head.
2. Checking more than one filing status.
This error happens far more often on people who prepare their returns the old fashioned way on paper. Tax prep software doesn’t allow more than one status, so if you like the feel of paper and ink, stop and be sure only one box is checked.
3. Incorrect spelling of names.
It’s hard to understand why this happens as often as it does, but we will presume it’s because people rush through completing the forms. Taxpayers sometimes even spell their own name wrong. Your return will be rejected because your name will not match the IRS database. Of course, if your name is John Smith it’s important to see #1.
4. Incorrect name.
This is a bit different than #3 because many people simply forget the IRS database has not been sent the correct information by you, the taxpayer. If you have been married, divorced, or changed your name for any reason since the beginning of the tax year and have not notified Social Security, there will be a mismatch and the automatic rejection. We understand that you know who you are, but we are dealing with computers here.
5. Not signing your return.
This is the last thing you should do, and because it is the last a good number of people simply want to send it off and be done with it. If you are married, both must sign the return. April 17th is not the time to have a fight and not talk to each other. Sign the return, make up (or vice-versa) and avoid delaying getting the refund.
6. Errors in math.
We suspect this is one of those things where people just don’t like math and trust their calculators too much. But the calculator is only as accurate as the person who is putting the numbers in. Tax prep software has reduced the frequency of this error, so if math is not your strong suit make using tax preparation software a priority.
7. Waiting too long to file a request for an extension.
This is an error that can cost you a lot of money if you owe the IRS. Most people who are getting a refund file their returns way before the April 15th deadline because they want their money yesterday. But extensions are generally requested by people who owe, and failing to file for an extension will start the clock on penalties and interest on the amount owed. Take the approach the people who are getting money back take and file for the extension as early as possible.
8. Omitting the EITC.
The Earned Income Tax Credit can add hundreds of dollars to your refund, yet many people fail to claim it because they are not aware they are eligible for it. There are certain conditions to be able to claim the credit, but unless you are over 65, under 25, or make more than $50,000 a year, chances are you can get something added to your refund.
9. Incorrect banking information.
If you opt to have your payment or refund run through your bank, the IRS needs to have the correct routing number (which identifies your bank) and the correct account number (which identifies you). That $3,173.62 refund check being misdirected to your ex is not the best way to start off the New Year.
10. Claiming dependents who do not meet the IRS qualification status.
No suggestion of fraud is being made by the IRS, but many taxpayers claim dependents that do not meet the specific requirements of a qualifying child. Yes, they can be complicated, but if you don’t take the time to check then your return will get kicked back to you.