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IRS Checklist of Common Errors When Preparing Your Tax Return
Before filing your return, review it to make sure it is correct and complete. The following checklist may help you to avoid common errors:
- Did you 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.
- If you choose to file a paper return, did you use the peel–off label and enter any corrections? If you used the label, did you enter your social security number in the space provided?
- If you do not have a label, or there are too many corrections, did you clearly print your name, social security number, and address, including zip code directly on your return?
- Did you 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 there have been any name changes be sure to go to www.ssa.gov or call at 800–772–1213.
- Did you check only one filing status?
- Did you check the appropriate exemption boxes and enter the names and social security numbers exactly as they appear on the social security cards, for all of the dependents claimed? Is the total number of exemptions entered?
- Did you enter income, deductions, and credits on the correct lines and are the totals correct?
- If you show a negative amount on your return, did you put brackets around it?
- If you are taking the standard deduction and checked any box indicating either you or your spouse were age 65 or older or blind, did you find the correct standard deduction using the worksheet in the Form 1040 Instructions or the Form 1040A Instructions?
- Did you figure the tax correctly? If you used the tax tables, did you use the correct column for your filing status?
- Did you sign and date the return? If it is a joint return, did your spouse also sign and date the return?
- Do you have a Form W-2 (PDF) from each of your employers and did you attach Copy B of each to your return? File only one return, even if you have more than one job. Combine the wages and withholdings from all Form W-2's, on one return.
- Did you attach each Form 1099-R (PDF) that shows federal tax was withheld?
- Did you attach all other necessary schedules and forms in sequence number order shown in the upper right–hand corner?
IRS Checklist of Common Errors When Preparing Your Tax Return - Page 2
A few of the most common errors are:
- Did you use the pre-addressed envelope that came with your tax form booklet? If you did not receive an envelope, check the section called "Where Do You File?" in the tax instruction booklet or at www.irs.gov.
- Did you use a postage stamp on the envelope?
- If you owe tax, did you enclose a check or money order made payable to the "United States Treasury" with the return and include your name, address, social security number, daytime telephone number, tax form, and tax year on the payment? For additional information, refer to Topic 158 , Ensuring Proper Credit of Payments.
- If you are due a refund and requested direct deposit did you check your financial institution routing and account numbers?
- Did you make a copy of the signed return and all schedules for your records?
It is important that you review your entire return because any errors may delay the processing of your return.
- Incorrect or missing social security numbers.
- Incorrect tax entered based on taxable income and filing status.
- Computation errors in figuring the taxable income, withholding and estimated tax payments, Earned Income Credit, Standard Deduction for age 65 or over or blind, the taxable amount of social security benefits, and child and dependent care credit. Also, missing or incorrect identification numbers for child care providers.
- Withholding and estimated tax payments entered on the wrong line, and
- Math Errors. Both addition and subtraction.
IRS Tax Tips About Refunds
Are you expecting a refund from the IRS this year? Here are the top ten things you should know about your refund.
- Refund Options: You have two options for receiving your individual federal income tax refund: a paper check or a direct deposit.
- Separate Accounts: You may use Form 8888, Direct Deposit of Refund to More Than One Account, to request that your refund be allocated by direct deposit among up to three separate accounts, such as checking or savings or retirement accounts.
- Paper Return Processing Time: If you file a complete and accurate paper tax return, your refund will usually be issued within six weeks from the received date.
- Returns Filed Electronically: If you filed electronically, your refund will normally be issued within three weeks after the acknowledgment date.
- Check the Status Online: The fastest and easiest way to find out about your current year refund is to go to the IRS.gov Web site and click on the “Where’s My Refund?” link available from the home page. You will need your Social Security number, filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund to check the status online.
- Check the Status By Phone: Call the IRS Refund Hotline at 800-829–1954. When you call, you will need to provide your Social Security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of the refund shown on your return.
- Delayed Refund: There are several reasons for delayed refunds. For things that may delay the processing of your return, refer to Tax Topic 303 on IRS.gov, which includes a Checklist of Common Errors When Preparing Your Tax Return.
- Larger than Expected Refund: If you receive a refund to which you are not entitled, or one for an amount that is more than you expected, do not cash the check until you receive a notice explaining the difference. Follow the instructions on the notice.
- Smaller than Expected Refund: If you receive a refund for a smaller amount than you expected, you may cash the check, and, if it is determined that you should have received more, you will later receive a check for the difference. If you did not receive a notice and you have questions about the amount of your refund, wait two weeks after receiving the refund, then call 800–829–1040.
- Missing Refund: The IRS will assist you in obtaining a replacement check for a refund check that is verified as lost or stolen. If the IRS was unable to deliver your refund because you moved, you can change your address online. Once your address has been changed, the IRS can reissue the undelivered check. For more information, visit IRS.gov or call 800-829-1040.
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