People who still haven’t filed a 2021 tax return should file electronically to avoid these common mistakes

COVID Tax Tip 2022-140, September 13, 2022

Summer is winding down and the filing deadline for people who requested an extension is quickly approaching. Everyone who still needs to file a 2021 tax return should do so as soon as possible.

Don't wait until the deadline to electronically file a complete — and accurate — return

Extension filers have until October 17 to file but filing electronically helps reduce processing time and correct errors. Mistakes on a tax return can also lead to longer processing time or cause the return to be rejected.

Filing electronically can help taxpayers avoid many mistakes. Tax software does the math, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information. It can also help eligible taxpayers claim overlooked credits and deductions.

Another way taxpayers can avoid mistakes is by using a reputable tax preparer, including certified public accountants, enrolled agents or other knowledgeable tax professionals.

Here are some of the most common errors taxpayers should avoid:

  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers. Each SSN on a tax return should appear exactly as printed on the Social Security card.
  • Misspelled names. Likewise, a name listed on a tax return should match the name on that person's Social Security card.
  • Entering information inaccurately. Taxpayers should carefully enter wages, dividends, bank interest, and other income received and reported on an information return. This includes any information needed to calculated credits and deductions. Using tax software should help prevent math errors, but individuals should always review their tax return for accuracy.
  • Incorrect filing status. Some taxpayers choose the wrong filing status. The Interactive Tax Assistant on can help taxpayers choose the correct status, especially if more than one filing status applies. Tax software also helps prevent mistakes with filing status.
  • Math mistakes. Math errors are some of the most common mistakes. They range from simple addition and subtraction errors to more complex calculation mistakes. Taxpayers should always double check their math.
  • Figuring credits or deductions Taxpayers can make mistakes figuring things like their earned income tax creditchild and dependent care creditchild tax credit, and recovery rebate credit. The Interactive Tax Assistant can help determine if a taxpayer is eligible for tax credits or deductions. Tax software will calculate these credits and deductions and include any required forms and schedules. Taxpayers should double check where items appear on the final return before clicking the submit button.
  • Incorrect bank account numbers. Taxpayers who are due a refund should choose direct deposit. This is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their money. However, taxpayers need to make sure they use the correct routing and account numbers on their tax return.
  • Unsigned forms. An unsigned tax return isn't valid. In most cases, both spouses must sign a joint return. Exceptions may apply for members of the armed forces or other taxpayers who have a valid power of attorney. Taxpayers can avoid this error by filing their return electronically and digitally signing it before sending it to the IRS. 

Taxpayers who file electronically and choose direct deposit get their refund faster. IRS Free File offers online tax preparation, direct deposit of refunds, and electronic filing —all for free to qualified individuals. Some options are available in Spanish. Many taxpayers also qualify for free tax return preparation from IRS-certified volunteers.

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