10 Common Mistakes When Filing a Tax Return

Filing a tax return is nearly every American’s springtime headache. From gathering the necessary documentation to remembering deductions, tax time can be stressful. In times of stress, human error is more likely to occur, and it often occurs when someone is preparing and filing income tax paperwork. For those who prefer to file taxes without the help of a professional, here are some of the common pitfalls do-it-yourself return filers encounter--and tips on avoiding them.

1.  Making Mathematical Errors

Mathematical errors are the most common problems filers encounter on returns. One of the best ways to avoid a math error is to double-check your figures. Using a standard calculator can also reduce error.

2. Sending Your Return to the Wrong Office 

For those who file a paper return, writing the wrong address on your return envelope can delay processing or even cause refunds to be sent to another address. Avoid this common pitfall by using the address label provided by the IRS.

3. Checking the Wrong Filing Status

If you check the wrong status, you could miss important exemptions such as the child tax credit, earned-income credit and dependent exemptions. Check one (and only one) filing status. Then check off the appropriate exemption boxes as they apply to your household.

4. Using the Wrong Tax Table and Not Including the Correct Social Security Number 

Stay within the guidelines of your filing status by using the correct IRS tax table. Your return will warrant correction if you use the wrong one. The IRS computer will automatically reject all your credits and deductions if you haven’t written down the correct Social Security number.

5. Making an Error on Your Direct Deposit Information 

Asking the IRS to deposit your refund directly into your account is an easy way to access funds. However, if you furnish the wrong account or routing number, your refund may be delayed indefinitely.

6. Forgetting to Include All Verification Documentation

The IRS needs to verify the information you provide on your return. Therefore, remember to include the vital paperwork, such as 1099s, W-2s , receipts and the other necessary forms and schedules.

7. Forgetting to Include Payment and/or to Sign the Document

Forgetting to include your payment sends a red flag to the IRS, and forgetting to sign and date your return will put you in the position of not having filed. Not filing according to deadline means that you could be saddled with a variety of penalties and problems.

8. Missing Tax Credits and Deductions

You could lose money for forgetting to include your deductions. Possible deductions include child care expenses, student loans, certain moving costs, tuition and alimony.

9. Not Reporting ALL Income

Do not fail to report even minor income from, for instance, a second or temporary job. Not reporting all income can position you for criminal and civil investigation.

10. Sending Your Only Copy 

In the event that you encounter an audit or need to dispute action against you, having a copy of your return will help you make your case.