Eight common tax time mistakes to avoid

Published
  • February 05 2017, 4:27pm EST

Forget the complexity of the Tax Code – some of the most common problems with tax returns result from simple mistakes like goofs in arithmetic, misspelled names and transposed numbers.

With that in mind, the Illinois CPA Society put together this list of easy-to-make mistakes for taxpayers and tax preparers to double-check for.

1. Math errors

These kinds of errors are still the most common mistake made on tax returns. Even if all your calculations are correct, an error in your initial figures can throw everything off.

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2. Misspelled or changed names

Sometimes the easiest portions of a tax return can create the biggest hang-ups with a misspelled name or a changed name that’s not correctly listed.

3. Wrong Social Security numbers

An incorrect nine-digit Social Security number or forgetting to list numbers for the taxpayer or their dependents can create unexpected problems. Social Security numbers serve as individual tax ID numbers.

4. Correct direct deposit information

Having a refund direct deposited into one or multiple bank accounts is very convenient, but make sure the account numbers are correct on the return, especially if there are multiple accounts listed.

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5. Changes in your filing status

If the taxpayer was married or divorced or their household situation otherwise changed, it may need to be reflected in their official filing status.

The Internal Revenue Service lists five filing status options for all taxpayers: single; married filing jointly; married filing separately; head of household; and qualifying widow(er) with dependent child.

6. Tax deductible charitable contributions

If the taxpayer donated cash or gifts to qualified charities and nonprofit organizations in the last year, they may be able to deduct the value of their contribution – when itemizing their return. Make sure to list the total amount for all charitable contributions and check the math to see if the overall value is correct.

7. Signing and dating the return

After all that hard work preparing a tax return, it still can’t be filed until it has been signed by the taxpayer and dated on the bottom line.

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8. Don’t be late

Because the usual deadline day of April 15 falls on a weekend this year and the following Monday is a federal holiday in Washington, D.C., taxpayers have a little more time to file. All returns are due by midnight on Tuesday, April 18. Filing Form 4868 can get a six-month paperwork extension, but any taxes owed are still due on April 18.