4/13 Tax tips: Common errors to avoid

April 13, 2010 

Errors made on tax returns may delay the processing of your tax return, which in turn, may cause your refund to arrive later. Here are nine common errors to avoid to help guarantee your refund arrives on time.

1. Incorrect or missing Social Security numbers. When entering the numbers for anyone listed on your tax return, be sure to enter them exactly as they appear on the Social Security cards.

2. Incorrect or misspelling of dependent’s last name. When entering a dependent’s last name on your tax return, ensure they are entered exactly as they appear on their Social Security card.

3. Filing status errors. Make sure you choose the correct filing status for your situation. There are five filing statuses: single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualifying widow(er) with dependent child. See Publication 501, exemptions, standard deduction, and filing information to determine the filing status that best fits your needs.

4. When preparing paper returns, review all math for accuracy. Remember, when you file electronically, the software takes care of the math for you.

5. Take your time so you avoid computation errors. Many taxpayers make mistakes when figuring their taxable income, withholding and estimated tax payments, earned income tax credit, standard deduction for age 65 or over or blind, the taxable amount of Social Security benefits, and the child and dependent care credit.

6. Incorrect bank account numbers for direct deposit are sometimes a problem. If you are due a refund and requested direct deposit, be sure to review the routing and account numbers for your financial institution.

7. Forgetting to sign and date the return. An unsigned tax return is like an unsigned check – it is invalid.

8. Incorrect adjusted gross income information. Taxpayers filing electronically must sign the return electronically using a Personal Identification Number. To verify their identity, taxpayers will be prompted to enter their adjusted gross income from their originally filed 2008 federal income tax return or their prior year PIN if they used one to file electronically last year. Taxpayers should not use an adjusted gross income amount from an amended return, Form 1040X, or a math error correction made by IRS.

9. Taxpayers with earned income should claim the Making Work Pay Tax Credit by attaching a Schedule M, Making work pay and government retiree credits to their 2009 Form 1040 or 1040 A. Taxpayers who file Form 1040-EZ will use the worksheet for Line 8 on the back of the 1040-EZ to figure their credit. The credit is worth up to $400 for individuals and $800 for married couples filing jointly. Many people who worked during 2009 are slowing down the processing of their tax return by not properly claiming this credit.

Source: Internal Revenue Service

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