Preparing for tax season can often feel like a daunting maze, with numerous forms and regulations to navigate. But fear not! We’re here to help you steer clear of the most common pitfalls when filing your tax returns.
From missing out on valuable deductions to falling victim to easily avoidable errors, this blog post will guide you through the treacherous terrain of taxes and arm you with the knowledge needed for a smooth and successful filing experience.
So grab your coffee, sit back, and let’s dive into the top ten mistakes with filing tax returns along with expert tips on how to sidestep them like a pro!
1. Not Filing Your Taxes on Time
One of the most common mistakes people make when filing their taxes is not doing so promptly. This can be a costly mistake, as you may be subject to late fees and interest charges if you don’t file your return by the April 15th deadline.
If you’re expecting a refund, filing late means you won’t get your money as soon as you could have. Filing taxes late can result in costly penalties and interest, and in some cases, you can even be subject to criminal prosecution.
To avoid late filing, be sure to set a reminder to file your taxes a few weeks before the due date. If you find yourself unable to complete your taxes by the tax filing deadline, consider filing for a tax extension. It does not relieve you of the obligation to pay your taxes on time.
It does not relieve you of the obligation to pay your taxes on time. Therefore, you should always make an effort to file your taxes before the due date and be prepared to pay all types of taxes owed.
2. Inputting the Wrong Information
When inputting financial information like income, deductions, or other important items, it is important to double-check for accuracy before filing. The IRS encourages taxpayers to review their records, use the correct tax forms, and check online for the most current tax laws and regulations.
It may be beneficial to use accredited tax preparers to assist in filing. If an error is made, it is important to address and correct it as soon as possible. The IRS provides information if a tax return needs to be amended or corrected.
Taking the time to double-check the accuracy of a tax return can lead to avoiding extra costs in the long run due to potential additional fees or penalties. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as mistyping the number or forgetting to include all zeroes at the beginning or end of the number.
If you input the wrong social security number on your tax return, it will be rejected by the IRS. This means you’ll have to resubmit your return with the correct information, which can delay your refund. To avoid this mistake, double-check your social security number before you submit your return.
3. Not Claiming All Eligible Deductions
When it comes to deductions, take advantage of everything you’re eligible for. Common deductions people forget about include student loan interest, educator expenses, and alimony payments. If you’re self-employed, don’t forget to deduct health insurance premiums and retirement plan contributions.
You can also deduct mileage if you use your car for business purposes. To avoid this mistake, taxpayers must know their deductions. The IRS offers an online tool to assist taxpayers in finding the deductions they may be eligible for. It is also important to stay up to date with any changes made to tax laws.
This could influence the tax deductions and credits you can take. The most common deductions for individuals include medical expenses, mortgage interest, property taxes, charitable donations, and education costs. Other deductions you may qualify for include job-related expenses.
It can also include energy-efficient home improvements. Taking the time to research deductions and document them can help you avoid costly mistakes. If unsure of whether an expense qualifies as a deduction, contact an accountant or other qualified tax professional for advice.
4. Not Claiming All Dependents
Failing to claim dependents is one of the most common mistakes when filing tax returns. When claiming dependents, they must have a valid social security number which is reported when filing your tax return.
Depending on your situation, more income may be earned due to the deduction associated with the dependent. Many people don’t realize they have the potential to claim a dependent until it’s too late. To avoid this mistake, always double-check your situation. This is to confirm if dependents can be claimed.
Parents should meticulously document expenses throughout the year such as for childcare, medical bills, etc. These can be taken when filing your return so long as they are reported properly. Make sure to file electronically which thoroughly walks you through all the necessary steps.
This is to properly report all of the necessary information. Take your time and review all of your information for accuracy and you can avoid common mistakes when filing your tax return.
5. Forgetting to Sign and Date Return
Forgetting to sign and date a tax return can be a costly mistake, as it may lead to processing delays or rejection of the return. Fortunately, it is an easy mistake to avoid. Before filing the return, taxpayers should ensure that both the primary and secondary taxpayers have both signed and dated the return.
Taxpayers should double-check their signature date as mistakes can happen easily. Lastly, taxpayers should ensure that the signature dates are within the acceptable timeframe as filing a return before or after the IRS deadline can also cause issues with the return.
To avoid these more basic errors, setting aside the time and being mindful when completing a return are the best courses of action. This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s an easy mistake to make in the flurry of getting everything else done.
6. Incorrectly Reporting Earned Income Credit
If you earn income from working, you may be eligible for the Earned Income Credit (EIC). To claim the EIC, you must file a tax return and include Schedule EIC with your Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR.
If you receive the EIC without being eligible, you will have to pay back the credit plus interest and may be subject to penalties. To avoid incorrectly claiming the EIC, make sure that you:
Are Not Married Filing Separately
It is important to understand all of your filing choices to make sure you don’t make any serious mistakes. Those who are married and filing jointly benefit from their income being combined. However those who are not married and filing separately should take extra caution.
One mistake is to mistakenly file as head of household if you are not married, which can result in the IRS imposing penalties. In addition, when filing separately you are unable to claim the earned income tax credit, child and dependent tax credit, education tax credits, and adoption tax credits.
Do Not Have Investment Income Exceeding $3,650
When money is earned from investments like stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and rental properties, investors must ensure that the total amount is properly reported and included as taxable income. Failing to do so can lead to fines, interest, and other penalties from the IRS.
To avoid this mistake, investors should make sure that they accurately record and report all investment income that exceeds $3,650. They should also keep detailed records of all transactions for tax reporting purposes, and consult an accountant or tax specialist if they are unsure of what to do.
Do Not Have Earned Income From Sources Outside the United States
While you may have income from these sources, it’s important to remember to report them on your tax return. Failure to do so can result in lost deductions, tax penalties, and even criminal charges.
The IRS may impose stiffer penalties if you have deliberately tried to avoid filing a return or to otherwise evade paying taxes on your foreign income. To avoid making this mistake, be sure to report any foreign income you had during the year, as well as any foreign tax brackets paid.
Have a Valid Social Security Number
A taxpayer must use his or her own Social Security number, not that of a spouse, child, or anyone else. If a taxpayer attempts to use someone else’s number the IRS will reject the return and may impose additional penalties.
To avoid this mistake, make sure to use your own Social Security number and double-check it before submitting it. Additionally, make sure to fill out all forms accurately and provide all requested documentation. If you make a mistake or are unsure of anything, contact the IRS for clarification.
Meet the Qualifying Child Requirements
Make sure if the child is the taxpayer’s dependent, they claim the child as a dependent on your tax returns. Also, if you want to claim the Child Tax Credit for the child, make sure to include the child’s Social Security Number.
If the child does not qualify to be claimed as a dependent, then the child cannot be included in the Child Tax Credit. Additionally, the child must be younger than 17 years of age and must be related to the filer.
Make sure you also understand the different types of dependents that are allowed to be claimed as well.
7. Overlooking Tax Credits for Education Expenses
When it comes to filing taxes, many people overlook tax credits for education expenses. This can be a costly mistake, as these credits can save you a lot of money on your tax bill.
There are two main education tax credits available: the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit. The American Opportunity Tax Credit is worth up to $2,500 per eligible student and is available for students who are pursuing their first four years of post-secondary education.
The Lifetime Learning Credit is worth up to $2,000 per tax return and is available for both undergraduate and graduate students. To claim either of these credits, you will need to fill out Form 8863 and submit it with your tax return.
8. Not Keeping Track of Receipts
When it comes to filing tax returns, not keeping track of receipts can be a common mistake. It can be easy to forget to save your receipts or to lose them among other papers, which can have serious consequences.
To avoid this, make sure to immediately put together all relevant payment receipts and itemize them, as well as make sure to save them digitally or physically. If you are a business owner, it is vital to keep an organized system for your receipts.
This could be such as date-specific folders that can be easily accessed in an audit.
9. Failing to Report All Income Sources
Failing to report all income sources can result in significant penalties or the need to amend your return. Some common sources of income include wages from a job, self-employment income, pensions or social security income, interest, dividends, or rental income.
To avoid this mistake, the best thing you can do is keep all your income records organized and reported accurately. Use records from the previous year as a reference when you do your current year’s tax return and make sure all sources are listed.
10. Not Considering a Tax Settlement
Tax debt settlement is an agreement made with the IRS so the taxpayer pays back taxes with less money. To avoid this mistake be sure to consider all the tax settlement options available, as this could potentially save you a lot of money.
Take your time to research all the potential outcomes and then consider if it would be beneficial to you. In most cases, you’ll need to have some financial documentation ready such as pay stubs and recent tax returns to show your current financial situation.
Having a professional perform your taxes ensures that all of your taxes are filed correctly and accurately, reducing the chances of mistakes being made. Professional tax preparers have taken courses and gained certifications, proving their qualifications and experience.
Avoid Mistakes With Filing Tax Returns Starting Today
Filing taxes correctly is essential to minimize the chances of future mistakes. Being up-to-date with deadlines, tax law updates, and the use of accurate software can prevent mind-numbing errors.
Researching more about the rules of filing taxes can also minimize the chances of making mistakes with filing tax returns. It’s best to use the services of a tax expert or CPA to ensure accuracy and understand the deductions and credits you may be eligible for.
Act now to save yourself from future taxes headaches!