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MAKING A MISTAKE on your annual tax return
could cost you time and money. Taxes are a complex
topic, and each individual’s situation stands on its
own, so it’s best not to draw conclusions. That said,
here are some common tax-time errors everyone can
avoid on their returns.
Don’t make Social Security slips. If you
enter the wrong Social Security number for yourself
or for your dependents on your federal tax return, or
fail to put a number down, the IRS will reject deductions and exemptions you claim.
Double-check your math. Math and computation mistakes can reduce your tax refund or
result in you owing more than you thought. Mistakes
may happen less frequently when you use a tax software program, but you still need to make sure initial
numbers are entered accurately. If you use a tax preparer, you should double-check their numbers.
Minor computation mistakes will get you a correction notice. If you make a bigger error, you will generally be referred to audit.
Avoid name-spelling miscues. If your
name doesn’t match the tax identification number on
record with the Social Security Administration, the
IRS will slow down or stop processing your return. If
you’ve changed your name, make sure you alert the
Social Security Administration so your new name
won’t cause a problem when you file your taxes.
Make sure you sign. An unsigned tax
return is not valid. If you don’t sign your return, it will
be considered late, which will leave you liable for penalties and interest. E-filing your return is an option
and allows you to submit an electronic signature,
which means you don’t have to sign or mail a return.
Remember that both spouses must sign a joint return.
Use the correct filing status. Using the
incorrect filing status on your income tax return can
affect the tax benefits you receive, the amount of your
standard deduction and the amount of taxes you pay.
There are five filing statuses: Single, Married
Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of
Household and Qualifying Widow(er) with
Dependent Child. If you aren’t clear about your filing
status, you can find helpful information in IRS
Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction,
and Filing Information, available at irs.gov/publica
tions/p501 or by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-
Declare all 1099 income. If you worked as
an independent contractor, received interest or dividends, and/or sold stock and fail to report the income,
you are risking an audit. This is because 1099 forms
are matched to your Social Security number.
Even if a 1099 issuer has an old address for you
and you don’t receive a 1099, the information is
reported. As long as you have the correct information
that’s on the 1099, you can include it on your taxes
without having the actual 1099 form. So make sure
you do it.
If you want to reduce your chance of making
errors, we suggest you e-file. According to the IRS,
people who file a paper return are about 20 times
more likely to make a mistake than those who e-file.
If the e-file system detects errors, it sends it back to
you for correction. If you discover an error after you
file your tax return, you may need to amend it.
Before filing your return, make sure it is correct
and complete! As time consuming as it may be, it is
important that you review your entire return.
For more information on amending a return,
visit IRS.gov. For an IRS checklist of common
errors to review before you file, visit irs.gov/taxtop
ics/ tc303.html. C
BEWARE! If you get a call
from someone claiming to
be the IRS saying you owe
money, and threatening you
with arrest, lawsuit, depor-
tation or loss of a driver’s
license if you don’t pay
immediately, it’s a scam.
Fraudsters will go to
any length to fool you.
They alter their caller ID
number to make it look as
if they’re calling from an
IRS office and leave urgent
messages for you. They
send follow-up emails that
appear to be legit and
demand that payments be
made by prepaid debit
card. Sometimes they say
you have a refund due and
ask you to provide personal
information so you can
claim it. They may even
call with another disguised
caller ID so it appears
they are calling from the
police department or the
Department of Motor
Vehicles. Don’t be fooled!
The real IRS will usu-
ally contact you by regular
mail first and won’t
demand immediate pay-
ment by phone. The
agency also doesn’t ask
for personal or financial
information by email, text
or social media.
If you suspect you are
the victim of an IRS impersonation scam, report it at
report_scam.shtml or call
toll-free 1-800-366-4484. C
Don’t fall for an