Whether you do your own taxes or you pay an accountant to help you, there are lots of very easy mistakes that many people make on their tax returns every year. The easiest way to avoid making these mistakes is to slow down and take the time to double check everything before you seal the envelope or hit “send” on the e-file form. From simple spelling errors to math miscalculations to missing numbers and more, here are five of the most common errors, according to the IRS.
Check Your Math
One of the easiest and yet most common errors found on tax forms comes down to simple mathematics. Just simply transferring numbers from one column to the other or the addition and subtraction may seem easy enough, but many people rush through their forms, missing calculations and making very avoidable mistakes. If you use a tax software program it can help you avoid these simple errors, but if you do your forms the old fashioned way, be sure to take the time to check your math. Twice.
Check Your Spelling
You never misspell your own name, right? Well, some people do, especially when they’re rushing through tax forms trying to meet the deadline. In addition, if you’re recently married or had a child, these can all increase the possibility of a spelling mistake on a name. It’s also a common problem for women who have recently changed their name, but remember, if you didn’t alert the Social Security Administration when you changed your name, then you won’t be able to use the new name on your tax forms.
Bank Account Numbers
So you’ve finished your taxes and you’re due a return. Unfortunately, you weren’t paying attention when you entered your routing or checking account number and now your return is lost. It’s another very easy mistake to make, and one that it totally avoidable. Direct deposit is a very convenient way to get your return, just be sure that you spend the time to check your account and routing numbers so you don’t have any troubles getting your money.
Filing Status Errors
You may be surprised to learn how many people make mistakes when it comes to filing status. It's actually a little more complicated than you may have originally thought. To be safe, use the Interactive Tax Assistant on the IRS website, which will help you choose the right filing status on your tax return. Or, if you use tax software, they typically have the same type of assistant program built in, so you should be safe.
Sign And Date Your Forms
If you forget to sign and date your tax forms it is a lot like forgetting to sign a check — it’s simply not a valid form. Sure, you may have made it in by the tax deadline, but without that signature, you’ve missed the boat. Remember, if you’re filing a joint return, both spouses must sign it as well. Just make sure to take the time to check everything, sign everything and double check all your math. A few minutes checking things in advance can save you a lot of headaches and hassles down the road.
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Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.
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