Last Minute Tax Mistakes to Avoid

April 10, 2014 by Carol Thompson, EA
Tax Day and April 15th stamps by stack of papers

The dreaded April 15th deadline is rapidly approaching. Taxpayers are most likely to make errors on returns when they are rushing to finish their returns before the deadline. The IRS issued a list of errors made by procrastinating taxpayers to help them complete the tax returns on time and to insure the returns are correctly completed. (IRS Tax Tip 2014-46)

One of the most important reminders is to use IRS e-filing because returns filed on paper are about 20 times more likely to contain an error than returns that are e-filed. Errors delay IRS processing, and hold up your refunds. E-filed returns are subject to online tests that can spot errors quickly and reject the return within 24 to 48 hours of the filing. The reject explains what the problem is so you can quickly correct it.

Eight common tax-filing errors to avoid:

1. Wrong or missing Social Security numbers (SSN): Verify all SSNs using each person’s Social Security card.

2. Wrong names: The names on the return must match each person’s Social Security card, including all dependents. Do not use nicknames or married names unless you have previously changed the name with the Social Security Administration office.

3. Filing status errors: Check your filing status, especially Head of Household. Most tax software asks questions to help you determine your status. You can also go to the Interactive Tax Assistant .

4. Math errors: There is a benefit to using tax software - the math is done for you. If you are doing the return by hand, double check all computations on a calculator with a paper tape. Keep your receipts with a tape showing the name of the deduction for reference in case you are contacted by the IRS for any reason, as any tax return can be audited even if it is 100% complete and accurate.

5. Credit and deduction errors: Be very careful in calculating the Earned Income Credit, Child Income Credit, and the Child and Dependent Care Credit. Follow the directions, and review the rules for Qualifying Child, Qualifying Relative, and Qualifying Expenses. Another problem area is the Standard Deduction for those who do not itemize. If you are over 65 and\or blind, there is an additional standard deduction amount to add to your Standard Deduction.

6. Bank accounts for refunds: The IRS and most state tax agencies offer direct deposit of refunds. This is the fastest and safest way to receive your refunds, but only if you verify the bank account information. You certainly don’t want YOUR refund going to MY bank account.

7. Forms not signed or dated: An unsigned return is not valid, especially for married couples where both must sign the forms. This can delay processing while the IRS sends a form for correct signatures.

8. Electronic filing PIN numbers: E-filed returns must have a PIN number in lieu of a signature. If you e-filed last year, use the same PIN number. If you can’t remember it, you will need your 2012 adjusted gross income as originally filed – not as amended or corrected by the IRS.


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