Tax Tips: Avoid Common Errors

Make sure you avoid these common tax-time errors. Remember, tax day is April 17 this year.

Anxiously awaiting a refund from the Internal Revenue Service this year? Make sure your return is error-free. According to the IRS, mistakes make returns take longer to process, thus delaying a potential refund.

Here are eight errors the IRS commonly sees on tax returns:

  • Incorrect or missing Social Security numbers. Social Security numbers should be entered exactly as they appear on a person's Social Security card.
  • Misspelled names. Besides spelling your name correctly, make sure you spell any dependents' names correctly, too. According to the IRS, misspelling a dependent's last name is a common error. Make sure the name is entered exactly as it appears on the person's Social Security card.
  • Make sure the correct filing status is chosen. The IRS offers five filing statuses: Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. For more information, see or Publication 501 (Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information).
  • Math errors. If you choose to go the old-fashioned paper route, make sure you do the math correctly! If you file electronically, the software does the math for you. Additionally, make sure you've correctly calculated your taxable income, withholding and estimated tax payments, Earned Income Tax Credit, Standard Deduction for age 65 or over or blind, taxable amount of Social Security benefits and the Child and Dependent Care Credit, the IRS says.
  • Enter the correct bank account number. Direct deposit means you'll get your refund faster, but you might not get it at all if you don't enter the correct routing and account numbers for your bank account.
  • Don't forget to sign and date your return. "An unsigned tax return is like an unsigned check—it is invalid," according to the IRS. "Also, both spouses must sign a joint return."
  • Incorrect adjusted gross income (AGI). People who file their returns electronically must verify their identities by signing the return using a Personal Identification Number (if they e-filed in 2010) or the AGI from their 2010 tax return. Note: Taxpayers should use their original AGI amount—not one from an amended return, a Form 1040X or a math-error correction made by the IRS, according to the IRS.

Good luck!


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