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Tax mistakes to watch for

With the general tax filing deadline coming up soon, many people will be filing their taxes over the next couple of weeks. Whether one is filing their taxes well in advance of the deadline or is doing their taxes right before the deadline, exercising care when it comes to one's tax returns is important.

There are various things that can help with avoiding mistakes on tax returns, including: being neat on the forms (if doing the forms by hand), having the right information at hand when doing one's taxes, not rushing through the forms and reading the instructions and/or seeking out help if one runs into something they are unsure on. Also, carefully double-checking one's returns before filing can help with catching mistakes before they have a chance to cause problems.

When taking steps to prevent tax mistakes and looking over one's returns for possible mistakes, it can be helpful to know what sorts of tax errors are common. Here are some common errors taxpayers may want to keep an eye out for when doing their taxes:

  • Picking the wrong filing status.
  • Making a math error.
  • Making a health care reporting mistake.
  • Misspelling a name.
  • Making a digit mistake when putting down a Social Security number or bank account number.
  • Accidentally claiming a deduction/credit one doesn't qualify for.
  • Failing to sign the tax forms or making an electronic PIN error.

Why is it so important to take measures to avoid errors when doing one's taxes? Well, mistakes can create some significant headaches and issues for taxpayers. They could cause slowdowns in the processing of one's returns and a person having to wait longer for their refund (if they are entitled to one). Also, some errors, like deduction/credit mistakes, could lead to a taxpayer facing problems with the Internal Revenue Service.

When a person, after filing, notices that they made a tax mistake or is facing IRS scrutiny due to a tax return error they inadvertently made, what they do moving forward can matter greatly. Missteps in responding to an error or scrutiny could compound the situation and make reaching an acceptable resolution to the matter more difficult. So, a taxpayer may want the help/advice of an experienced tax attorney when responding to a tax error they or the IRS discovered.  

Source: Forbes, "The 9 Most Common Tax Filing Mistakes And How To Avoid Them," Kelly Phillips Erb, March 21, 2016

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