You’re already busy with your career and family, but it’s that time of year when you have one more task to accomplish – preparing your taxes. Taking your time and checking your work can help you avoid some of the most common tax filing mistakes, including the following:
- Failing to include all W-2 forms – You need to include official copies of all your W-2 forms from your employer (or employers). The wages and amounts withheld listed on these forms generally must be reported on your tax return.
- Forgetting necessary paperwork – Make sure you have all the documents you need before filing, such as forms from investment companies, including Form 1099-INT for interest income and Form 1099-DIV for dividend income.
- Entering incorrect Social Security number – Transposing a couple of digits on your Social Security number can cause the IRS to reject your return. So, double-check your SSN, and that of your spouse, if filing jointly, before submitting your return.
- Using the wrong column from Tax Tables– If you do your own taxes, you will probably have to refer to the 1040 Tax Tables page to make the correct calculations. But if you look at the wrong column for your filing status, you could miscalculate – a mistake that’s not uncommon, according to the IRS.
- Making math errors – If you file a paper tax return, be sure to check your math to make sure the figures add up. Using a software program or working with a tax professional means you won’t have to do the math on your own. However, it's always important that you review your return before filing, regardless of whether if you completed it yourself.
- Entering the wrong routing or account number – If you want your tax refund to be deposited directly into your bank account (which is the fastest way to receive your refund), you need to be sure you provide the correct routing and account numbers. A simple mistake can result in the IRS sending you a paper check or, even worse, someone else receiving your refund.
- Failing to sign and date your return – Signing your return is an easy task – but it’s also easy to overlook. If you file your taxes electronically, as most people do, you may be able to use a Self-Select PIN as your digital signature. If you’re filing a joint return, you and your spouse would each use your respective PINs.
- Missing the filing deadline – In 2022, tax returns are due April 18. If you’re running late, file for an extension before this filing deadline. You’ll still need to pay the taxes you owe (though you may have to estimate the amount) by the April 18 date, and if you owe more, you’ll likely accrue interest, but you’ll avoid failure-to-file penalties, which can be hefty.
According to the IRS, submitting your return electronically can ensure greater accuracy and timelier processing as the e-file system can detect common errors, allowing you to correct the return immediately. And of course, you might choose to hire a tax professional, a move that can greatly reduce the likelihood of mistakes. But in any case, you’ll want to be quite familiar with what’s expected of you and what goes into your tax returns. After all, when taxes are involved, the fewer surprises, the better.