Although I am not a fan of doing my taxes each year, using tax software makes it easy and helps avoid mistakes. I certainly don’t ever do them by hand, you’re just asking for trouble.
When preparing your taxes there are a lot of simple and easy errors you can avoid with a little double-checking and extra diligence. Also, one of the biggest reasons a tax refund is delayed is because of an error. Before you file your taxes, check out this list of common errors and correct them before you file:
1. Incorrect Social Security Numbers or Expired Individual Tax Identification Number
Double-check your Social Security numbers (SSN) before you file. You need to make sure that you have the right numbers for you and your spouse, as well as for any dependents that you claim. Each SSN on your tax return should appear exactly as it is printed on the Social Security card. Your Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) and other dependent-related tax benefits could be at risk if you have the wrong Social Security number for your child or dependent.
If you are using an individual tax identification number (ITIN) make sure the ITIN is not expired. If an expired ITIN is used to file a tax return the IRS will process that return and treat it as filed on time but the IRS will not allow any exemptions or credits for that tax return with an expired ITIN. This will delay the processing of the tax return and the IRS will send you a notice to renew your number so that the return can then be processed normally.
Also, make sure the information on your tax return is legible. Rather than filling out the forms by hand – making it easy to mistake the number 8 for the number 3 in your SSN or ITIN, use tax prep software.
2. Forgetting Dependents
Don’t forget to claim dependents. In many cases, college students can be claimed by you. Also, if you have been caring for an aging parent, you can often claim mom or dad as a dependent. Think about those to whom you have been providing material support, and don’t forget to claim them as dependents.
Just make sure that no one else is claiming them as well. Each dependent can only be claimed on one tax return. So you need to work out claims with siblings if it’s your aging parent, or with your ex if you are divorced.
3. Overlooking Tax Deductions and Credits
Go through your expenses from the past year, and make sure you aren’t overlooking deductions. You might be surprised at what you can deduct, from camp for your kids to education expenses to learn a new skill, if you meet the right criteria. Don’t pay more than you have to.
4. Not Taking Advantage of E-file
E-filing is a great way to file your tax return quickly (and make sure you don’t miss the April 18 deadline this year) as well as get your tax refund processed quicker. Plus, there is a reduced chance of mistakes on the IRS end if you e-file.
If you are entitled to a tax refund, you can get it much faster when you e-file. E-file combined with direct deposit is the fastest way to get your tax refund. The IRS estimates that 9 out of 10 tax refunds will be processed within 21 days if there is no errors. Also, make sure you use the correct routing and account numbers on your tax return when you choose direct deposit.
Don’t worry about knowing these tax rules. Meet with a TurboTax Expert who can prepare, sign and file your taxes, so you can be 100% confident your taxes are done right. Start TurboTax Live Full Service today, in English or Spanish, and get your taxes done and off your mind.