Reduce Your Stress This Tax Season
With tax season upon us, you may be weighing your options about whether to prepare your own taxes or to get assistance from software or a professional tax preparer. If you opt to go it alone, here is a list of some common pitfalls from the IRS. Avoiding these can reduce the likelihood of an audit and can help you to maximize your refund.
Consider filing your tax return electronically.
By electronically filing your tax return, many common errors may be avoided or corrected by the computer software. Depending on your income, you may even qualify to e-file for free by using IRS Free File.
Clearly print your name, social security number, and address directly on your return.
If you are married but filing a separate return, do not include your spouse’s name in the “Name, Address and Social Security Number” field on the return. Enter the names and social security numbers for yourself, your spouse, your dependents, and qualifying children for earned income credit or child tax credit, exactly as they appear on the social security cards. If anyone in your family has changed their name, be sure to contact the Social Security Administration at www.ssa.gov or call at 800-772-1213.
Use the correct mailing address from your tax form instructions, and remember to use a postage stamp on the envelope. If you owe tax, enclose a check or money order made payable to the “United States Treasury” with the return. Always include your name, address, social security number, daytime telephone number, tax form, and tax year on the payment.
Check the appropriate exemption boxes.
Enter the names and social security numbers exactly as they appear on the social security cards for all of the dependents claimed.
Avoid common sense errors.
Make sure to fill in all the basic information accurately. Incorrect or missing social security numbers can lead to delays processing your return. Always double-check your math. It’s easy to make computation errors when entering taxable income, withholding and estimated payments. If you have to enter identification numbers (such as one for a child care center, for example), be sure you have the most accurate information. The IRS says that many delays that occur in processing tax returns come from simple errors – not complex schemes. Spending the extra time to avoid common sense mistakes should help you get through tax season with ease.
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