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 or Illegible Social Security Numbers
Double-check your Social Security numbers 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. Your EITC and other dependent related tax benefits could be at risk if you have the wrong Social Security number for your child.
Also, make sure 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 Social Security number, 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 him or her 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
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 job hunt expenses to moving expenses, 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 (don’t miss the deadline!) 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.