8 Tips for Avoiding Common Tax Return Errors

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The most common mistakes people make on their federal tax returns are relatively simple. Unfortunately, simple mistakes can cause a lot of grief. A wrong identification number here, a misspelled name there, could cause a delayed refund - or worse.

Here are eight tips for avoiding common errors on your tax return:

  1. Double-check your Social Security numbers.

    Be sure you enter SSNs for yourself and others on your tax return exactly as they are shown on the Social Security cards.

  2. Make sure names are spelled correctly.

    Be sure you enter names of all individuals on your tax return exactly as they are shown on their Social Security cards. Don't use nicknames or alternate names. If your name or your child's name has changed, be sure to report the new name to the Social Security Administration before you file your return.

  3. Choose the best filing status for which you qualify.

    Choose the right filing status. There are five filing statuses: Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child.

    If you are married and living with your spouse, you must use the Married Filing Jointly or Married Filing Separately filing status.

    If you are single, you will generally pay less tax if you qualify to file as Head of Household or as a Qualifying Widow(er) With Dependent Child.

    If you're not sure which filing status to choose, see IRS Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.

  4. Avoid math and calculation mistakes.

    The easiest way to avoid math and calculation mistakes is to let TaxAct do all the calculations for you. The IRS reports that tax returns prepared using software are far less likely to contain errors than returns prepared by hand.

  5. Review all TaxAct Alerts.

    TaxAct can help you find errors and missing information before you file your return. During the review process, red alerts identify incomplete or inconsistent information. Yellow alerts identify potential problems. Green alerts point out potential tax savings.

  6. Review bank account numbers.

    Direct depositing your refund or paying taxes directly from an account is fast, easy, and safe, provided you enter your bank routing and account numbers correctly.

    If you do enter the wrong account numbers, the IRS may not be able to validate the account number. The IRS will then send you a paper refund check. If the number you enter belongs to someone else, your refund may be deposited in their account.

  7. Review your return.

    When your return is ready to be filed, print and read through it carefully. If you don't understand something; for example, if you didn't get a deduction or credit that you expected, you may want to go through the step-by-step interview again and make sure you answered all the questions correctly.

  8. Don't forget to sign your return.

    Your tax return is not valid until you sign it. You and your spouse must both sign a joint return.

    If you e-file your tax return, you'll sign the return electronically using a Personal Identification Number (PIN). Simply follow the easy instructions in TaxAct.

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Upcoming Tax Dates

September 5 — Everyone
Federal Holiday (Labor Day) Details

September 10 — Employees who work for tips
If you received $20 or more in tips during August, report them to your employer Details

September 15 — Individuals
Make a payment of your 2018 estimated tax if you are not paying your income tax for the year through withholding (or will not pay in enough tax that way). Use Form 1040-ES. This is the third installment Details

September 15 — S Corporations
File a 2017 calendar year income tax return (Form 1120S) and pay any tax due. This due date applies only if you timely requested an automatic 6-month extension Details

September 15 — Partnerships
File a 2017 calendar year return (Form 1065). This due date applies only if you were given an additional 5-month extension Details

September 15 — Corporations
Deposit the third installment of estimated income tax for 2017 Details

September 15 — Social security, Medicare, and withheld income tax
If the monthly deposit rule applies, deposit the tax for payments in August.

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