Avoiding These 11 Tax Mistakes Will Make the Process Less Stressful

By Chika

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Last Updated: March 15, 2022

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Mistakes are an inevitable part of life, as no one is perfect. However, when it comes to tax mistakes, the consequences can be severe.

One misstep could hold up your tax return — maybe even your refund — for weeks or months. It could also bring Uncle Sam knocking on your door, and you might even end up on the hook for interest and penalties.

 

Here are 11 tax mistakes you definitely want to avoid

1. Missing the deadline

The deadline for filing your taxes should never be overlooked. If you have to file after the deadline and are concerned about what will happen if you do so late, be rest assured that the IRS is usually understanding. You can acquire more time by requesting an extension by submitting Form 4868 before the tax-filing deadline.

If you choose to do nothing, you will be subject to a 5% penalty on the amount payable for each month or partial month your return is late. The maximum penalty is 25% of the outstanding balance.

Even if you get an extension, you'll still owe interest on taxes that aren't paid by the deadline. In addition, the IRS may levy a late-payment penalty of 0.5% per month on any tax not paid by the filing deadline. 

The Key Things Every American Should Know About Paying Their Taxes

 

2. Using an incorrect Social Security number

Social Security numbers are used by the IRS to cross-reference information it receives from you with information it receives from your employer, bank, or other institutions.

If you transpose a digit in your Social Security number, the IRS may reject your return. As a result, make sure you include each Social Security number precisely as it appears on your Social Security card on your tax return.

 

3. Getting your name wrong

If you don't use your entire legal name every day, it's simple to make this error. It causes a problem since your name will be spelled exactly as it appears on your tax return on any refund check from the IRS, which may prompt your bank to raise an alarm.

Be careful to spell everyone's names exactly as they appear on their Social Security cards on your return. Notify the Social Security Administration if your name has changed. You can also call the IRS and get your name corrected over the phone.

 

4. Incorrect tax calculations

Every year, the IRS discovers a large number of mistakes on tax returns, with many of them involving several math errors. If you're preparing a paper return by hand, these errors are more likely to occur. By using tax software or employing a knowledgeable tax preparer, you can keep your refund-fueled hopes alive.

 

5. Wrong bank account number

If you pick direct deposit for your refund, you will most likely receive it much sooner. Unless you give the IRS the wrong account number or routing number, it will flow directly into your bank account.

 

6. Not signing your return

From the perspective of the IRS, an unsigned return is invalid. The IRS may not penalize you for missing the filing deadline due to a missing signature if you completed everything else correctly, including mailing in your payment, but you'll almost certainly need to respond with a signed copy to start things rolling again.

Remember that anyone who you paid to prepare your tax return must sign it and supply their IRS Preparer Tax Identification Number. If you're filing jointly, you'll need your spouse's signature as well.

 

7. Mailing your return to the wrong address

If you're mailing a paper return, be sure it's addressed to the correct processing facility. Returns with payments are frequently sent to a separate location than returns without payments.

You're asking for a processing delay if you send it to the wrong center. You may find out where your return should be sent here. You can also e-file to save yourself the trouble.

 

8. Leaving out all the backup

Don't just cram your 1040 into an envelope and send it to the IRS. All required tax forms, supporting schedules, and papers, such as your Schedule A if itemizing and your Schedule D if reporting capital gains and losses, must be attached.

If you lose the backup, the IRS may send you a notice stating that your tax credits or refund will be put on hold until you return the documents. This stage is simpler if you're utilizing software and filing electronically.

 

9. Addressing the check wrongly

If you owe money, write a check to the United States Treasury, not "Uncle Sam" or "International Rat Society." The IRS is unlikely to accept it, which means your payment will be late and you will be penalized. Alternatively, you can pay via IRS Direct Pay or your tax software's electronic payment alternatives.

 

10. Pinching costs on postage stamps

Were you trying to save a few pennies on that large, overstuffed envelope by using one stamp instead of two? Let me tell you something. The USPS will return it, perhaps delaying your return and costing you much more than 55 cents in interest and penalties.

Avoid this headache by e-filing or at the very least double-checking postage requirements with the USPS.

 

11. Giving up

If you've made a mistake on your return, correct it as soon as possible. The IRS should never be ignored. To correct an error on your tax return, obtain a Form 1040X, fill it out, and send it to the IRS.

You'll need to attach other schedules or forms if the modifications require them. If you owe more taxes as a result of the correction, be aware that the IRS will charge interest and penalties starting from the original due date.

Many things might go wrong during tax season, but like with any mistakes, try to learn from them. Take the effort to learn about your tax status; after all, little improvements can save you a lot of money.

 

Key takeaway

As we all know, Uncle Sam is very unforgiving when it comes to tax defaulters. While you may not have meant to default on paying your taxes, a mistake could make it seem like you did. As such it is always advisable to make sure you file your taxes correctly.

This process may seem cumbersome for most people, this is why using an accountant with experience in taxes is always advisable. The extra costs you spend in consulting with a tax accountant would save you penalties and interests in the long term if you file your taxes incorrectly.

Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

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