The Most Common Causes of E-filing Problems

March 01, 2015 by Karen Reed, EA

When your electronically filed tax return is rejected by the IRS, it can be frustrating. But, most of the time, there’s a simple explanation for the rejection, and the errors can be easily fixed.

The most common tax return rejections relate to errores in the entries of names (last names in particular), Social Security Numbers, birth dates, the prior year’s AGI (adjusted gross income) or e-filing PIN. If the information in the return does not match the Social Security Administration or IRS records, the return will be rejected by the IRS’s electronic filing system.

While all of the above errors are fixable, sometimes a tax return cannot be e-filed, period. The IRS requires that a return be mailed in if certain forms are included in your return, or if the same person appears as a dependent or taxpayer on more than one tax return in the current year. A W-2 with a blank box 1, or with box 16 of W-2 exceeding box 1, will also be rejected. In addition, you cannot electronically file prior year returns, amended tax returns, or returns which report no taxable income. Tax returns that were prepared using software overrides will need to be mailed to the IRS as well.

If, during your attempt to e-file, you learn that a tax return has already been filed using your Social Security Number, you may be a victim of tax identity theft. If you suspect this is the case, visit the IRS’s Taxpayer Guide to Identity Theft for instructions on what to do and how to report it.



Karen Reed, EA


During her years as an audit representative for TaxAudit, Karen successfully defended the company’s members throughout the entire federal and state audit processes, handled cases assigned to US Tax Court, and developed procedures to make the audit process easier for taxpayers. Karen attributes a great deal of her tax acumen to the six tax seasons she spent as a return reviewer, analyzing thousands of returns. Responding in writing to questions from taxpayers, she became familiar with the common mistakes self-preparers make. Karen was previously the manager of the Tax Education and Research Department and the Director of Communications at TaxAudit. Her tax advice has been featured in U.S. News and World Report, the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, and other publications.


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