Archive January 2022

Common tax return mistakes that can cost taxpayers

Common tax return mistakes that can cost taxpayers

Tax laws are complicated but the most common tax return errors are surprising simple. Many mistakes can be avoided by filing electronically. Tax software does the math, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information. It can also help taxpayers claim valuable credits and deductions.

Using a reputable tax preparer – including certified public accountants, enrolled agents or other knowledgeable tax professionals – can also help avoid errors.

  • Filing too early. While taxpayers should not file late, they also should not file prematurely. People who don’t wait to file before they receive all the proper tax reporting documents risk making a mistake that may lead to a processing delay.

  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers. Each SSN on a tax return should appear exactly as printed on the Social Security card.

  • Misspelled names. Likewise, a name listed on a tax return should match the name on that person’s Social Security card.

  • Entering information inaccurately. Wages, dividends, bank interest, and other income received and that was reported on an information return should be entered carefully. This includes any information needed to calculated credits and deductions. Using tax software should help prevent math errors, but individuals should always review their tax return for accuracy.

  • Incorrect filing status. Some taxpayers choose the wrong filing status. The Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help taxpayers choose the correct status especially if more than one filing status applies. Tax software also helps prevent mistakes with filing status.

  • Math mistakes. Math errors are some of the most common mistakes. They range from simple addition and subtraction to more complex calculations. Taxpayers should always double check their math. Better yet, tax prep software does it automatically.

  • Figuring credits or deductions. Taxpayers can make mistakes figuring things like their earned income tax credit, child and dependent care credit, child tax credit, and recovery rebate credit. The Interactive Tax Assistant can help determine if a taxpayer is eligible for tax credits or deductions. Tax software will calculate these credits and deductions and include any required forms and schedules. Taxpayers should Double check where items appear on the final return before clicking the submit button.

  • Incorrect bank account numbers. Taxpayers who are due a refund should choose direct deposit. This is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their money. However, taxpayers need to make sure they use the correct routing and account numbers on their tax return.

  • Unsigned forms. An unsigned tax return isn’t valid. In most cases, both spouses must sign a joint return. Exceptions may apply for members of the armed forces or other taxpayers who have a valid power of attorney. Taxpayers can avoid this error by filing their return electronically and digitally signing it before sending it to the IRS. 

The IRS urges all taxpayers to file electronically and choose direct deposit to get their refund faster.

Tax filing step 1: Gather all year-end income documents

Tax filing step 1: Gather all year-end income documents

As taxpayers are getting ready to file their taxes, the first thing they should do is gather their records. To avoid processing delays that may slow their refund, taxpayers should gather all year-end income documents before filing a 2021 tax return.

It’s important for people to have all the necessary documents before starting to prepare their return. This helps them file a complete and accurate tax return. Here are some things taxpayers need to have before they begin doing their taxes.

• Social Security numbers of everyone listed on the tax return. Many taxpayers have these numbers memorized. Still, it’s a good idea to have them on hand to double check that the numbers on the tax return are correct. An SSN with one number wrong or two numbers switched will cause processing delays.
 
• Bank account and routing numbers. People will need these for direct deposit refunds. Direct deposit is the fastest way for taxpayers to get their money and avoids a check getting lost, stolen or returned to IRS as undeliverable.

• Don’t have a bank account? Learn how to open an account at an FDIC-Insured bank or through the National Credit Union Locator Tool. Veterans can access the Veterans Benefits Banking Program.

• Forms W-2 from employer(s).

• Forms 1099 from banks, issuing agencies and other payers including unemployment compensation, dividends, distributions from a pension, annuity or retirement plan.

• Form 1099-K, 1099-MISC, W-2 or other income statement for workers in the gig economy.

• Form 1099-INT for interest received.

• Other income documents and records of virtual currency transactions.

Forms 1095-A, Health Insurance Marketplace Statement. Taxpayers will need this form to reconcile advance payments or claim the premium tax credit.

• Letter 6419, 2021 Total Advance Child Tax Credit Payments, to reconcile advance child tax credit payments.

• Letter 6475, Your 2021 Economic Impact Payment, to determine eligibility to claim the recovery rebate credit.

Forms usually start arriving by mail or are available online from employers and financial institutions in January. Taxpayers should review them carefully. If any information shown on the forms is inaccurate, the taxpayer should contact the payer ASAP for a correction.