At the close of each tax filing season, the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) compiles a list of the most common errors taxpayers make when filing their tax returns. Believe it or not, incorrect mathematical calculations are not the number one error. The most frequent culprit for the past several years is incorrect Social Security numbers being submitted on individual income tax returns.
When an incorrect return is filed, the IRS first “rejects” it then sends a notice to the taxpayer requesting additional information. This can delay a refund by several weeks, or even months. In other instances, the IRS may issue a refund to you, but for a lesser amount than what you were expecting. This may occur when a claimed dependent has a missing or incorrect Social Security number, or when another taxpayer claims the same dependent.
Another reason you may receive a reduced refund is if you are eligible to claim a tax credit for child and dependent care expenses but you do not include the Social Security number of your caregiver on your tax return. The IRS will issue your refund, less the amount of the credit. You will then have to file an amended return and wait several more weeks for the rest of your money. All this can be avoided if care is given when entering required information on your return.
Other details to keep in mind when filing your taxes this year include:
· Remember to sign your return in the proper place. If you are filing a joint tax return with a spouse, both of you must sign. If one spouse has passed away during the year, the surviving spouse must sign both names.
· For proper filing, attach Copy B of all Forms W-2 received during the year to the federal return. Also, attach any Forms 1099 that report tax withholding. For electronic filing, all of the appropriate W-2 or Form 1099 information should be entered on the input form, which is included with the electronic return.
· Mail your return to the proper address. The IRS often changes the address for mailing returns. If you have a balance due, you must use a payment voucher and mail your return to a lock box instead of the service center. If you electronically file your return, the chance of mailing your return to the wrong service center is virtually eliminated.
· If you owe money this year, make your check payable to the United States Treasury Service not the IRS.
· Double-check the tax from the tax tables, as well as all calculations.
· Make a copy of the return for your records.
· Be certain there is enough postage on the envelope. Include your full return address. If you owe, it’s a good idea to spend the extra dollars and use registered mail so there is a record that the IRS received your return.
Taking a few minutes to double check your tax return before you send it to the IRS, whether you mail it or electronically file, will ensure your refund is issued in a timely manner. The IRS encourages taxpayers to e-file. By e-filing your tax return, many common errors may be avoided or corrected by the computer software. Contacting a qualified tax preparer is the easiest way to e-file. Tax professionals are experts who keep current on tax law changes. They can save you time and offer insight on how to use the tax breaks available to you.