Topic 303 - 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 Free File tax software. For more information, visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov and click on the e-file logo on our home page.
  • Did you clearly print your name, social security number, and address, including ZIP code directly on your return? Note that if you are married but filing a separate return, do not include your spouse's name in the name, address and social security number fields on the return.
  • Did you enter the names and social security numbers for yourself, your spouse (if filing jointly), your dependents, and qualifying children for the earned income credit or child tax credit, exactly as those names and numbers appear on each person's social security card? If there have been any name changes be sure to contact the Social Security Administration at 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 those names and numbers appear on each person's social security card, for all dependents you 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 chart in the Form 1040 Instructions (PDF) or the Form 1040A Instructions (PDF)?
  • 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 Form W-2 to your return? If you have more than one job, combine the wages and withholdings from all Form W-2s you receive and report those amounts 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 as shown in the upper right-hand corner?
  • Did you use the correct mailing address from your tax form instructions?
  • 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.
  • If you are due a refund and requested direct deposit, did you check your financial institution's routing and account numbers?
  • Did you make a copy of the signed return and all schedules for your records?

A few of the most common errors are:

  1. Incorrect or missing social security numbers.
  2. Incorrect tax entered based on taxable income and filing status.
  3. 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.
  4. Withholding and estimated tax payments entered on the wrong line.
  5. Math errors, both addition and subtraction.

It is important that you review your entire return because any errors may delay the processing of your return.

More Tax Topic Categories

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: June 18, 2014