6 common tax mistakes

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The 2019 tax season is upon us and many people have already received their W2s. It is in your financial interest to file soon, especially if you expect a refund, but as you start filling in those forms, don’t let haste make waste.

Here is a list of common tax mistakes.

Would you pay a couple hundred dollars for something you can get for free? Millions of Americans take advantage of free tax preparation every year. Companies such as TurboTax, H&R Block and TaxAct offer free tax software. Also, depending on your income, you may qualify for any number of free services such as Volunteer Income Tax Assistance, sponsored by the IRS. There is Tax Counseling for the Elderly, also sponsored by the IRS, and Free File. If your income is less than $66,000, you can use the IRS website to find an online software program to prepare and file your individual income tax return for free. 

On its list of common tax mistakes, the IRS puts incorrect and missing Social Security numbers at the top. Long gone are the days in which you could claim dependents without a Social Security number. Today, every member of your household listed on your return needs to have such a number. Make sure to double-check all the numbers before submitting your return. 

This may sound strange, but misspelling one’s name is another common mistake.  Sure, you know what your name is, but maybe you’re typing too quickly and hit a wrong key or you might be interrupted while filling out the form and start up again later at the wrong spot. There are many ways in which people can, and do, misspell their own names on income tax forms which can lead to rejected returns and delayed refunds.

If you were recently married or divorced and haven’t registered a name change with the Social Security Administration, make sure the name on your forms matches the name listed in Social Security records.

Math errors, once a very common mistake, become less of one if you use software to prepare and file your taxes. The computer will do all the calculations, which virtually guarantees you’ll get it right.
However, the computer can not know whether the numbers you’ve entered are correct. Double-check everything to be sure your return is accurate. 

Don’t forget your John Hancock at the bottom of the form. Many people neglect signing their name. There are two places this mistake can trip you up. The first is by failing to sign a paper return before mailing it.  The second is failing to sign your check if you’re sending in a payment. Either one can result in lengthy delays in processing your return. 

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