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Avoiding Tax Return Mistakes That Could Cost You

Did you know the average person spends approximately 12 hours preparing their income tax return? Have you started gathering all your information to prepare your 2018 return? Remember, if you spend all that time preparing your return, the last thing you want to do is make a mistake because you are in a rush. Mistakes, no matter how simple, can delay your refund. Below are some common mistakes that are made on tax returns and what you can do to avoid them.

Get Organized: If you don’t already have your tax information together you better start now. Missing information can have the potential of costing you unnecessary funds.

Improper Social Security # or incorrect ID: The SS# must match with what’s on your Social Security card because the IRS compares all returns with the Social Security Administration’s database. Also, it is easy to get to focused on the numbers that you forget to sign your return or even enter other necessary information. Even having the incorrect name can be a problem. These problems often happen after marriage or divorce, especially if you haven’t informed Social Security.

Filing Status Mistakes: There are five filing status options (Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household, and Qualifying Widow w/ dependent) that are used to determine your filing requirements (standard deduction, eligibility for credits, deductions and your correct tax. Choosing the best filing status for you is one of the initial steps in filing your return.

Math Errors and Miscalculations: With all those numbers you can enter on your tax forms, it is easy to make simple math mistakes. If the IRS finds those errors they may recalculate them for you but not to your advantage. So, it would be to your benefit to check your math before you send in your forms. In addition to possible math errors, there can be miscalculations linked to taxable income, withholdings, estimated tax payments, and misc. tax credits.

Incorrect Bank Account Numbers for Direct Deposit: It’s important to double check your bank’s routing number and your account number to ensure you receive your refund in a timely manner. Just as important is paying your tax on time to avoid possible penalties and interest.

Underreported Income: Don’t forget to add income from anything other than your place of employment. This includes interest income, savings dividends, rental income or funds from a second job. Make sure you total all your income statements (W-2s, 1099s, K-1s and 1098s). Remember, the IRS gets copies of all those forms as well.

Filing Late or even not at all: Many of us can get overcome with details and put off filing our returns on time or not at all. Sooner or later the IRS will discover your tardiness and you will get a bill for the interest and penalties for not following the rules. If you are unable to make the April 15th deadline, you can request a six-month extension and avoid these penalties if you pay any taxes due by the filing deadline.

Start Saving: Whether you owe the IRS or are expecting a refund it’s always good to be saving. Sometimes refunds get delayed so you can’t delay your bills waiting for your refund. Make sure you set aside a portion of your income now so you will be prepared to pay any unexpected payments.

Use your return sensibly: If you are expecting a return this year, make sure you use it wisely. Before you spend it, make sure you prioritize your financial needs and put the refund toward that.

My Tip To You: Make sure you prepare your tax return when you have fewer diversions. If you are interrupted or have annoying distractions, stop what you are doing and finish your return at a later time. A little extra time spent on your tax return will go along way to sending in an accurate return. By following these simple tips, you can safeguard you won’t get a letter from Uncle Sam letting you know you owe extra money.

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