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Updated: Common Input Issues

Many common issues are easy to resolve by following the instructions below. The most frequent issue involves data entry errors.  Please review your return closely before e-filing.  Because Free File Fillable Forms is basic, you must follow the instructions exactly and enter data only on the lines indicated.

Below you will find a few more general tips for successful e-filing and then some more specific issues currently trending for Free File Fillable Forms:

General Tips

  • Many issues can be resolved by simply using the “tab” key which ensures you will see all the data boxes. For example, when you use the tab key, you will see the MI box for your middle initial on the top of the Form 1040.
  • Use the state drop down box in the address field and enter zip code in appropriate box.
  • Check all your data entries before attempting to e-file.
  • Check your social security numbers for accuracy.  Is your dependent’s SSN correct? Is your SSN correct on the Form W2, Box A, Employee’s SSN?
  • Do not use zero “0” in any field unless instructed to do so.
  • If you’re getting a refund by direct deposit, double check your financial account and routing numbers; the routing number must be nine digits.  Be sure to select checking or savings. 
  • Check your withholdings; make sure your W-2 statement withholdings match the amount on your 1040.
  • Check the withholding amount entered Step 2, Section 1 and make sure it equals the amount in Step 2, Section 2, Box A.
  • Verify your identity. Do not guess at your prior year Adjusted Gross Income. This is the most common error we see. If you don’t remember your AGI, you must get an electronic filing PIN at IRS.gov or call 1-866-704-7388.
  • If your filing status is Married Filing Jointly, make sure to include all information for your spouse, especially Step 2 requirements for identify verification and signing the return electronically.
  •  Whenever you’re entering your information on a form or schedule in Free File Fillable Forms and you have a question, just select the button, "Instructions For This Form," at the bottom of the screen.

Specific Issues

I didn’t get the email confirming that my Free File Fillable Forms return was accepted or rejected

  • First, check your email spam/junk folder. 
  • If it’s not there, take the following steps: Return to your Free File Fillable Forms account. (Either through IRS.gov/freefile or freefilefillableforms.com.) 
  • Select “Get E-File Status” from upper left column. If there is no status update, log-on to your account and review your return for accuracy  
  • CAUTION: Make sure to place the current date ("Today's Date") in Step 2, Section 4, Signing This Year's Return
  • Next, select  “E-File Now” button to resubmit.  
  • If your return was successfully e-filed, you will receive 2 emails: one from freefilefillableforms.com saying it was received and a second one from freefilefillableform.com saying it was accepted or rejected by the IRS. If you do not receive these two emails, you have not successfully transmitted your return.

I got this message: Business Rule X0000-005 - The XML data has failed schema validation

This currently is the second most common error we see, and it’s not as scary as it sounds. You will receive this message when there is a data entry error. This is a simple correction.

  • First, your message will identify the form and line number where the error occurred on your return.
  • Look for one of two key phrases in the error message.
  • If you see the phrase “is expected” that means you left blank a required field.
  • If you see the phrase “not facet-valid with” that means you made an entry in the wrong format, i.e. you used a number where it should be blank, or used a description not allowed in the field.
  • For more information, see our Rejected return help page.

“Do the Math” won’t work

Most often, your form is missing data that the program considers necessary to perform the calculation. Use the “tab” key and double check your entries.

Here's a list of some common problems taxpayers have encountered and possible solutions. 

  • 1040 (Form) Line 44 Tax - You must look up your tax in the tax tables and follow the IRS instructions to manually enter an amount on this line.  Don’t forget this step.
  • Schedule 8812 Additional Child Tax Credit, Lines 9, 11, 12 and 13 - You must complete all the prior required lines, including the buttons on line 6, before these lines will calculate.   Check your entries before you e-file.
  • Form 8863, Education Credits (Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits, Line 15 - You are required to complete Part 1. If instructed to put a zero on a line, you must put a zero on that line.
  • Schedule A, Itemized Deductions
    • Line 23 - The amount for this line is populated from the amount(s) you enter in the grey areas under the words, ‘list type and amount’. There are two lines under these words and two fields on each line. The first field is for a description of the ‘Other Expense’ deduction and the second field is for the amount. Enter the description and corresponding amount and ‘Do the math’ will calculate an amount for line 23.
    • Line 29 - Don't forget to manually enter the total amount for your Itemized Deductions on line 29 of the Schedule A.  Line 29 is not a Do the Math calculated field.  Select the “Yes” or “No” button for line 29 and follow the Schedule A instructions for entering an amount on the line 29.  If your answer is No,  Is Form 1040 line 38 over $150,000, then add up all the column amounts, lines 4 through 28, on the Sch A and enter the total amount on line 29.  Check your math.  If  your answer is Yes, line 38 of the Form 1040 is over $150,000 refer to the Itemized Deductions Worksheet for line 29 (page A-13) and then enter the amount you figured on line 29.  After you enter your amount on line 29, then select “Do the Math.”  The amount on line 29 will then transfer and update Line 40 of Form 1040.
  • Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business Lines 3, 4, 5, and 7 - You must enter the business entity information (A-J) before the lines will calculate.
  • Schedule C-EZ Net Profit or Loss from Business Line 3 - You must enter the business entity information (A-G) before “Do the Math” will calculate.
  • Schedule E, Supplemental Income and Loss, Line 23a, b, etc. - Many lines will not calculate until Part 1 of the form is complete. 

I Can’t Find the Form I need

First, review the list of available Forms You Can Use. You can learn how to add some forms to your return by following the instructions below.

  • Form 4562, Depreciation and Amortization (Including Information on Listed Property -  You must Add the Form 4562 from the “add” button on your Schedule C and/or Schedule E.  You can NOT add the Form 4562 from the “add/view" button.  
  • Form 6198 At-Risk Limitations- Add this form from the “add” button on your Schedule C.
  • Form 8829 Expenses for Business Use of Your Home- Add this form from the “add” button on your line 30 of the Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business
  • Form 8863, Education Credits (Hope and Lifetime Learning Credits) -
    1. Part III on page 2 for each student for whom you are claiming either credit must be completed before you complete Parts I and II on Page 1.  Some taxpayers can’t find the add button for page 2.  Just go to the top of page 1 of the Form 8863 and click on the add button next to the statement click to enter student information on page 2. 
    2. Make sure you use"Do the Math" for computing line 15 of page 1 of the Form 8863.
    3. Make sure you use the tab key for entering the student’s first name and the last name on line 20. Entered the first name in the first grey field and then use the tab key to enter the last name in the grey field to the right. 
  • Form 8949, Sales and other Dispositions of Capital Assets- Don’t forget to add Page 2 to complete this form.  Complete the Form 8949 before you complete your Schedule D. On the Schedule D, complete lines 1b, 2, 3, 8b, 9, and 10. You may add multiple copies of the Form 8949 if you need additional space to report sales and exchanges of your capital assets.
  • Add Forms W2, W2G and 1099-R in Step 2, Section 1.
  • All other Form 1099’s, including SSA 1099, 1099 INT, 1099 MISC etc. are not available as individual forms in Free File Fillable Forms because you do not have to e-file these statements to IRS.
  • BUT make sure to include all other income from Form 1099 including SSA 1099, 1099 INT, 1099 MISC etc. on your Form 1040. Don’t forget to include your federal withholding amounts from these other Form 1099s in Step 2 Section 2 Box B.

I Can’t Print My Return?

  • If you are having trouble printing and you are using Internet Explorer 8.0 you must upgrade your Internet browser or switch to another computer to print your information.  
  • If you can't print, search for 'print' in General FAQs (PDF) for additional information. Remember, always print your return for your records after you successfully e-file.

I am having problems with my 16a and 16b entries for pensions and annuities on the Form 1040

  • Find your total pension or annuity amount on your Form 1099-R and enter it on line 16a of your Form 1040.
  • Then, enter the taxable portion in 16b to the far right under the column of the Form 1040 where you are entering all of your amounts.
  • Do not enter your taxable amount after “b Taxable amount”.   This “b Taxable amount” field is only reserved for the text: “ROLLOVER”, “PSO”, and “ROLLOVER AND PSO” - Refer to the 1040 instructions to see if either of these 3 descriptions apply to you.
  • When your total pensions and annuities equal your taxable amount, “Do the Math” will automatically remove your amount on line 16a.
  • When your total pensions and annuities is greater than your taxable amount, “Do the Math” will display the total on line 16a and taxable amount you entered to the right of 16b.     

I am getting an error on Line 21, "Other income" on the Form 1040 - List type and amount

  • In certain situations, the form instructions may prompt you to enter information next to a line.   There are 2 parts for you to enter: 1) the description type in the first grey box and then 2) a corresponding amount in the second grey box.  Don’t enter descriptions or $ amounts in the grey fields unless the instructions tell you too.  Generally, leave these fields blank and don't enter a zero or '0" amount unless the instructions tell you too.
  •  Use line 21 of the Form 1040 to report any other taxable income not reported elsewhere on your return or on other schedules.  Make sure you enter the type and then the amount for the Other income to the left of the amount on line 21.  Enter the type of income in the first grey field and then enter the amount in the second grey field.   After you enter the amount in the second grey field, select "Do the Math" and the amount you entered to the left in the grey field will transfer to line 21.   Don't forget to enter the type of other income such as gambling winnings or jury duty pay in the first grey field to the left of the amount.  And if one of your other income description types is net operating loss (NOL), make sure you enter a negative sign "-" before the amount.  To view a list of description types for other income examples on line 21, refer to page 28 of the Form 1040 instructions.  Free File Fillable Forms will automatically display the description type in all upper case letters after selecting Do the Math.

Refer to the tutorial for basic tips before your start Free File Fillable Forms. These tips will improve your chances to successfully e-file without getting errors.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 26-Feb-2014