6 Common Tax Filing Mistakes and How To Avoid Them

No one wants to wait longer than expected for their tax refund to arrive from the IRS. Though there are ways to expedite the process, like filing online and requesting your refund via direct deposit, the last thing you’d want to do is make any mistakes or errors that would delay your refund even further.

tax returns

There are many mistakes the IRS receives on tax returns every year. They raise red flags and may set back your refund by weeks or even months as the IRS attempts to resolve the issue. In many cases, they may even require you to file an amended return.

Here are some commonly overlooked mistakes people make on their returns. Be sure to double check your return and all your tax documents to ensure you get your refund in time!

Incorrect Social Security Numbers

Though this might seem like a no-brainer, incorrect Social Security Numbers are actually listed as one of the IRS’s most common filing errors. It can be quite easy to confuse or mix up the number, especially if you are filing on behalf of your spouse or kids. This year, instead of relying on your memory, take the time out of your day to double-check everyone’s Social Security card to enter the number exactly as it is.

Many people using online tax preparation software make this mistake because these programs don’t have access to the Social Security Administration database. Unlike most errors that these programs are designed to automatically detect and fix, they are not able to detect an incorrect Social Security Number. This will cause your return to get rejected, so be cautious.

Wrong Taxpayer Name

Another common mistake is using the incorrect name for married filing separately returns. Put your own name as the taxpayer in the first line of Form 1040. Your spouse’s name will go in the field at the right of the filing status checkboxes.

You’ll also want to check that the names on your return match up to their corresponding Social Security cards. Many people will accidentally mix up the names and numbers. If you recently got married, divorced, or changed your name, but have not received confirmation from the Social Security Administration, you need to file using the name printed on your Social security card. Your return will be rejected if there are mismatching records.

Don’t Forget to Include an Identity Protection Pin

The IRS provides IP PINs to certain taxpayers in order to prevent the abuse of their Social Security number on fraudulent returns. You may have received a PIN if you got a CP01A Notice from the IRS, received an IRS letter inviting you to create an IP PIN, or filed a tax return the previous year as a resident of California,Arizona, Connecticut, Colorado, Delaware, Georgia, Florida, Marland, Nevada, Michigan, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Carolina, New York, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Washington, the District of Columbia, or Texas and chose to receive an IP PIN.

If you have been issued an IP PIN and don’t include it in your electronically filed return, it will be automatically rejected. You’ll then have to paper file your return, which will delay your refund. The IRS will also require your return to go through additional security screening to confirm your identity.

Remember to Sign Your Return

If you are filing jointly with your spouse, don’t forget that both of you must sign the return. Forgetting to sign can delay your return for several weeks. The IRS will return your document for your signature and may even give you a penalty for filing late.

Forgetting to File on Time

April 15, 2020 is the tax filing deadline for 2019 tax returns. If you need extra time to situate your taxes, a six-month extension will give you until October 15, 2020.

Don’t forget you will still be responsible for paying your taxes by April 15 or you will receive a late payment penalty. An extension of time to file does not give you an extension of time to pay. If you are getting an extension because you do not have the required cash, you should still pay off what you can and set up an installment agreement to pay off the remainder.

Incorrectly Claiming Dependents

Make sure the person you are trying to claim as a dependent on your taxes is qualified. You will not be able to claim someone unless they are a qualifying child or relative that meet the following criteria:

Requirements for a Qualifying Child

  • They must be your son, daughter, stepchild, foster child, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister, stepbrother, stepsister, or a descendant of any of them.
  • The child must be under age 19 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly); a full-time student under age 24 at the end of the year and younger than you (or your spouse if filing jointly), or any age if they are permanently and totally disabled at any time during the year.
  • The child must have lived with you for longer than half of the year unless there were any temporary absences or if the parents were divorced or separated.
  • The child did not support themselves alone for more than half the year.
  • The child cannot be filing a joint return with a spouse, unless they are only filing to get a refund of withheld income tax.

Requirements for a Qualifying Relative

  • They can’t be your qualifying child or the qualifying child of anybody else.
  • The person must be related to your or must live with you the entire year as a member of your household.
  • Their annual gross income must be less than $4,200.
  • You must have provided more than half of their total support for the year.

Take the time to double-check your return for errors and discrepancies. Not only will it save you time, it will allow the IRS to issue your refund as quickly as possible. Though some of the mistakes listed above can be voided by using tax preparation software, there will always be room for simple inputting mistakes. So, it’s always a good idea to double-check your return before submitting. This small step will help you circumvent rejected returns, delayed refunds, and irksome notifications from the IRS.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *