If you make a mistake on your tax return, it usually takes the IRS longer to process it. The IRS may have to contact you about that mistake before your return is processed. This will delay the receipt of your tax refund.
The IRS reminds filers that e-filing their tax return greatly lowers the chance of errors. In fact, taxpayers are about twenty times more likely to make a mistake on their return if they file a paper return instead of e-filing their return.
Here are eight common errors to avoid.
1. Wrong or missing Social Security numbers. Be sure you enter SSNs for yourself and others on your tax return exactly as they are on the Social Security cards.
2. Names wrong or misspelled. Be sure you enter names of all individuals on your tax return exactly as they are on their Social Security cards.
3. Filing status errors. Choose the right filing status. There are five filing statuses: Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child. See Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information, to help you choose the right one. E-filing your tax return will also help you choose the right filing status.
4. Math mistakes. If you file a paper tax return, double check the math. If you e-file, the software does the math for you. For example, if your Social Security benefits are taxable, check to ensure you figured the taxable portion correctly.
5. Errors in figuring credits, deductions. Take your time and read the instructions in your tax booklet carefully. Many filers make mistakes figuring their Earned Income Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit and the standard deduction. For example, if you are age 65 or older or blind check to make sure you claim the correct, larger standard deduction amount.
6. Wrong bank account numbers. Direct deposit is the fast, easy and safe way to receive your tax refund. Make sure you enter your bank routing and account numbers correctly.
7. Forms not signed, dated. An unsigned tax return is like an unsigned check – it’s invalid. Remember both spouses must sign a joint return.
8. Electronic signature errors. If you e-file your tax return, you will sign the return electronically using a Personal Identification Number. For security purposes, the software will ask you to enter the Adjusted Gross Income from your originally-filed 2011 federal tax return. Do not use the AGI amount from an amended 2011 return or an AGI provided to you if the IRS corrected your return. You may also use last year’s PIN if you e-filed last year and remember your PIN.
Additional IRS Resources:
- IRS Free File
- E-file Options
- IRS Tax Tip 2013-13, Determining Your Correct Filing Status
- Tax Topic 303 Checklist of Common Errors When Preparing Your Tax Return