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5 Common Tax Filing Mistakes

By - Posted on January 25, 2019

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes, 31 seconds.

Filing your taxes is probably not the most pleasurable task on your to-do list. But while speeding through your return to get the chore over with quickly might be tempting, it can result in errors. Even minor mistakes can cause major headaches, ranging from delayed refunds to costly penalties and an audit by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – yikes!  Here are five of the most common tax filing mistakes you’ll want to avoid:

Incorrect calculations

Math mistakes are common, particularly on tax returns that are filed by paper. Check and double-check your math. Using a tax software program can help you avoid this issue because it will do the math for you.

Bank account number errors

The easiest and fastest way to receive any tax refund is by using direct deposit. That requires providing your correct bank routing and account numbers on the return. Of course if you include wrong bank account information, you may be waiting indefinitely.

If you are using e-filing, incorrect bank account information may be caught before you submit your return. The software may detect an odd number of digits or an incorrect account routing number and will reject the return. However, if the routing number is correct and the account number is wrong, your refund could go into someone else’s account.

If you are using a paper return, wrong information may delay your refund or it may be deposited into a wrong account. If the IRS catches the error, they will send you a paper check in the mail.

On the flip side, if you owe taxes and choose to have your payment debited from your account, incorrect bank information will delay your payment. If your payment ends up being late, you could be socked with penalties and interest.

If you realize your bank account information is incorrect after you’ve submitted your return you can call the following IRS numbers:

If you are due a refund call 1-800-829-1954

If you were making a payment call IRS e-file Payment Services at 1-888-353-4537

Incorrect Social Security numbers

Entering an incorrect Social Security number is another common tax filing mistake. If you are using tax software and submitted a wrong Social Security number, you may receive an error code. All you need to do to resolve this is edit the tax return and refile it.

If you receive notice of a Social Security number error after filing your return, you’ll need to amend it by filling out IRS Form 1040X.  Visit the IRS website for more information about amending your tax return using Form 1040X.

Not signing your tax return

Believe it or not, the IRS reports that a missing signature is one of the most frequent tax return errors. An unsigned tax return makes the return completely invalid as if it was never filed at all.  So be sure to sign your return – and remember that if you are filing a joint return, both of your signatures are required.

Late returns

Many people wait until the absolute last minute to file their tax returns (hence the rushing and the errors that result from that).  The deadline for filing taxes is April 15 and as long as your return is e-filed or postmarked by midnight of that day, you’ll be on time.

If you know you will not make that deadline, you can request a 6-month extension by filing IRS Form 4868. Submit that form prior to April 15.

There are some special automatic extensions available to military personnel who are stationed abroad or serving in a combat zone. Visit the IRS website for tax information specifically for members of the military.

The bottom line?  Take your time when doing your tax return!  If you need assistance, keep in mind that there are many free or discounted tax filing resources available to the military, including the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. You can find VITA sites at many military installations.  Search for a VITA location near you by visiting Military OneSource.

The information provided in this blog is for informational purposes only. It should not be considered legal or financial advice. You should consult with a financial professional to determine what may be best for your individual needs.


Posted in Financial Tips & Advice