7 Most Common Tax Mistakes

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Messing up at tax time can wreck a timely refund, cost you a penalty, or even result in an audit appearance. So if you are on your own, avoid common errors.

“Most common errors we see are having to do with Social Security numbers. Wrong number, no number, misplaced digit. Probably number two is having to do with the earned income tax credit, where people don’t compute it correctly.”
-Mike Dobzinski, IRS

Another common error? Math. One reason why if you’re going it alone, tax software makes so much sense.

Of course software can’t look over your shoulder to make sure you sign the check you’re sending in…and the return.

Here’s another potential mistake: using a simple form like an EZ, when a 1040A or 1040 would get you a bigger refund.

If you made less than $42,000 last year, there are thousands of places you can get your return prepared free. So paying a preparer could also be the wrong move.

And one final mistake: failing to file electronically:

“It’s faster, it’s more accurate, it’s convenient and for those that get refunds, and most people do, you’ll get your refund a lot quicker.”
-Mike Dobzinski, IRS

A lot of mistakes happen for the same reason: waiting till the last minute and rushing through the process. So the single best thing you can do for yourself is start early and take your time. Why make things more taxing than they have to be?

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  • glenn jennings

    hi stacy, i am a travel agent and when you say go to the internet for the best travel deals, this irks me. you might put a plug in for travel agents. we have tools also to find the best prices out there, and would like to keep our jobs especially with the economy as bad as it is.

    • http://www.moneytalksnews.com/ Stacy Johnson

      Hi Glenn!
      You're right…travel agents…a vanishing breed…can really help save money, especially on more complex itineraries like those that include air/hotel/tour packages or international travel.

  • glenn jennings

    hi stacy, i am a travel agent and when you say go to the internet for the best travel deals, this irks me. you might put a plug in for travel agents. we have tools also to find the best prices out there, and would like to keep our jobs especially with the economy as bad as it is.

    • http://www.moneytalksnews.com Stacy Johnson

      Hi Glenn!
      You're right…travel agents…a vanishing breed…can really help save money, especially on more complex itineraries like those that include air/hotel/tour packages or international travel.

  • vicki

    Stacy,
    You say there are thousands of places where one can get their tax prep free, but you don't say how to find one. Is there a list somewhere?

    • Stacy Johnson

      Hi Vickie!
      The places you're looking for are called VITA sites. (VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.) To locate your nearest VITA site, call 1-800-829-1040. You can also learn more about eligibility, what to bring, etc. at the IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=1076…

  • vicki

    Stacy,
    You say there are thousands of places where one can get their tax prep free, but you don't say how to find one. Is there a list somewhere?

    • Stacy Johnson

      Hi Vickie!
      The places you're looking for are called VITA sites. (VITA stands for Volunteer Income Tax Assistance.) To locate your nearest VITA site, call 1-800-829-1040. You can also learn more about eligibility, what to bring, etc. at the IRS website: http://www.irs.gov/individuals/article/0,,id=1076…