Hi, I’m Patti, and I work for the IRS.
Did you know that it takes us longer to process tax returns that have mistakes?
That means people who are due refunds have to wait longer to get them.
Don’t let that happen to you.
So here are the most common mistakes and how to avoid them, starting with incorrect or missing Social Security numbers.
Be sure to enter your Social Security number, your spouse’s if filing jointly, and those of any dependents you are claiming exactly as they appear on everyone’s Social Security card.
And make sure that the Social Security numbers match the names.
Speaking of names, make sure that every name listed on your return matches the Social Security Administration’s records exactly.
So if you changed your name after getting married or divorced, update the information with the Social Security Administration before filing a tax return using your new name.
Also, some people have trouble figuring out the taxable amount of their IRA distributions, pensions and annuities or Social Security benefits.
What can help?
Use tax preparation software or, if you file a paper return, fill out the worksheet in the instructions.
One of the most common mistakes on returns is math errors.
Always double-check your math, or better yet e-file and let the tax software double-check it for you.
Another error is incorrectly claiming credits and deductions.
Especially the Earned Income Tax Credit, the child care credit, the premium tax credit that applies to taxpayers who purchase their health insurance from the Health Insurance Marketplace, and the special standard deduction for people who are senior citizens or blind.
Again, tax preparation software can help you figure the correct amount of credits and deductions.
Another mistake is not choosing the right filing status. They are single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and qualifying widow or widower with dependent child.
The IRS Interactive Tax Assistant tool can help you choose the right status.
Go to IRS.gov and search “filing status” to get started.
Another common error is putting in the wrong routing and account number for the direct deposit of your refund.
So be sure you double check the numbers so that the IRS deposits your refund into the right account.
And finally, if you mail a paper return, don’t forget to sign and date it.
If you’re married and filing jointly, both spouses must sign and date the return.
If not, we’ll have to send it back to you for signature.
You can avoid this error by using tax software, which guides you through the electronic signature process, or by e-filing, which requires a return to be digitally signed before it can be submitted.
For every error there are tips and solutions.
Learn more at IRS.gov/taxerrors.