Most Americans find tax filing to be a tedious and daunting task, which is why it is no surprise that many postpone filing until the last minute. According to the Internal Revenue Service, 20 to 25 percent of Americans choose to file during the last weeks before the deadline. Although there is nothing inherently wrong with this, procrastinating often leads to mistakes and therefore higher costs and possible delays in the receipt of any expected tax refund.
The biggest problems in filing tax returns are usually easily preventable, but are overlooked by rushed and careless filers. This year, make sure you do not make that mistake. Here is a list of what you need to watch out for:
Math and computation errors
The most common error that taxpayers make is miscalculation. It could be that you or your tax professional incorrectly estimated your tax return entries like taxable income and payments, or it could simply be bad math. Usually, using a tax software program can help reduce math errors, but you would still want to double check the numbers before you file your return. Otherwise, the IRS will refigure your taxes for you.
Misspelling or name changes
Misspelled names may seem trivial, but if the name of the taxpayer or their dependents do not match the tax identification numbers on record, this can slow down the process and delay the receipt of a tax refund.
Additionally, any name changes must also be noted when filing tax returns. For example, newly married women who changed their surnames must alert the Social Security Administration and use the correct name when filing for a joint tax return for the first time.
Incorrectly entered numbers
Before submitting your tax returns, make sure that your social security number is written correctly. This is crucial because it is used to claim any benefits, accounts, or taxable income.
Likewise, if you have chosen to have your refund directly deposited into your bank account, double check that you have entered the account number and the routing number correctly. Otherwise, your refund may end up in someone else's account or is returned to the IRS.
Failure to sign the tax return
The IRS will not process any return that is missing the appropriate signatures. This goes for e-filed returns as well. For those who are submitting their returns online, you will need a personal identification number or PIN to verify your identity.
On the other hand, if you are mailing your return, check if you and your spouse (if you are filing for a joint tax return) have signed and dated all the documents before you stuff it in an envelope and send it off.
Missing the deadline
If you are one of the millions of Americans who chose to file at the last minute and are afraid to miss the dreaded April 15 deadline, you might want to request an extension to avoid any penalties and interest charges. The IRS offers taxpayers the option to extend the deadline by up to six months by filing Form 4868, which can be found on their website.