Avoid Making The Most Common Mistakes When Filing Taxes

Carpenters have a very practical saying. “Measure twice, cut once.” When it comes to filing tax returns there needs to be a saying to the effect of triple check if you want that check! Something needs to be done that might help people avoid continually making the same mistakes over and over again. Maybe this article will help.

While it may seem amazing, the IRS reports that there are 10 common mistakes made by taxpayers year after year. Remember to go over your returns with a fine- toothed comb, because any mistake can delay a refund and could lead to – horror of horrors – an audit. Having your tax preparer file electronically can circumvent some of the common errors. However, there are many errors of omission that electronic filing cannot prevent.

As you begin preparing to file, keep these common mistakes in mind as reported by Tom Murse on the About News website. Do your best to avoid making any of them. (http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/incometaxandtheirs/tp/Ten-Most-Common-Tax-Mistakes.htm)

According to the article, the most common mistake is the failure to sign and date the return!


  1. Failing to sign and date return: The IRS does not accept returns that are not dated and signed. And do keep in mind that married, filing jointly requires both spouses’ signatures.

  2. Checking wrong filing status: Another common tax mistake is choosing the wrong filing status. You have five choices: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household and qualifying widower. Taxpayers often incorrectly claim head of household filing status without meeting the requirements

  3. Messing Up Social Security Numbers: The names and Social Security numbers for the taxpayer, taxpayer’s spouse, dependents, and children who qualify for the Earned Income Credit or Child Tax Credit must be included on the return exactly as they appear on the Social Security Cards.

  4. Failing to Report Income:According to the IRS, taxpayers often make the mistake of failing to report income that’s not including on a W-2 or 1099 form such as rental income or self-employment income. If you forget to report that type of income, it may cost you in the long run. The IRS can assess interest and penalties.

  5. Using The Wrong IRS Form: If you file your own return, this is an easy mistake to make. If your tax preparer uses the wrong form, that’s inexcusable. Take care to review the instructions on all forms and schedules to make sure you’re using them correctly and accurately.

  6. Claiming Ineligible Dependents: A qualifying dependent can be a child or a relative, but never your spouse. To claim someone as a dependent, that person must be a U.S. citizen, U.S. resident alien, U.S. national or resident of Canada or Mexico for some part of the year.

  7. Overlooking The Earned Income Credit: The Earned Income Credit is designed for low- to moderate-income working individuals and families. Congress approved the tax credit in 1975 in part to offset the burden of Social Security taxes and to provide an incentive to work. Both your earned income and adjusted gross income needs to be within certain ranges for you to qualify.

  8. Failing to Pay and Report Payroll Taxes: If you hire household workers such as a house cleaner, an in-home caregiver, or a nanny, you must pay and report payroll taxes beyond a certain income threshold.

  9. Forgetting About The Alternative Minimum Tax: Federal tax laws provide tax benefits for certain kinds of income and allow special deductions and credits for certain kinds of expenses. The alternative minimum tax is an attempt by the IRS to ensure that anyone who benefits from these tax advantages pays at least a minimum amount of tax, according to the government.

  10. Failing To File a Return: Yes, it seems silly to even bring this up. And yet many Americans make this tax mistake. Even if you don’t owe taxes to the government, you’ve still got to file a return if you earned an income. And if you are due a return? Bad news: Taxpayers forfeit refunds if they don’t file returns within three years.

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