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disappointed tax clients

Top Common Tax Time Mistakes to Avoid

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Although most tax professionals do their jobs well, it’s not a bad thing to run a sanity check against the IRS’ checklist of common errors. Please review the following list from the IRS to make sure you’re not missing anything in your tax practice. These tips were written for the taxpayer, but they serve as friendly reminders of common mistakes to avoid to help ensure error-free returns, and delay-free refunds, for your clients.

  • Before filing your return, make sure it’s correct and complete. Review your entire return, even if you have someone else prepare it, because any errors may delay the processing of your return.
  • Submitting your tax return electronically ensures greater accuracy than mailing your return. The e-file system often detects common errors and rejects your tax return, sending it back to you for correction. This could save you delays in processing your tax return. For more information, click on the e-file logo on IRS.gov.
  • Did you clearly print your name, taxpayer identification number and current address, including your ZIP code, directly on your return?
  • Did you choose only one correct filing status? See What Is My Filing Status?
  • Did you check the appropriate exemption boxes for your personal, spousal and dependency exemptions? Did you enter the total number of exemptions? Review Personal/Spousal Exemptions and Dependency Exemptions to find out if you qualify.
  • Did you enter the names and taxpayer identification numbers for everyone listed on your return? If using Social Security numbers, they must be entered exactly as those names and numbers appear on each person’s Social Security card. If there have been any name changes, be sure to contact the Social Security Administration at SSA.gov, or call them at 800-772-1213.
  • Did you enter your income on the correct lines?
  • Did you calculate deductions and credits correctly, put them on the right lines, and attach the necessary forms or schedules?
  • Did you put brackets around negative amounts?
  • If you’re taking the standard deduction and checked any box, indicating either you or your spouse were age 65 or older, or blind, did you find the correct standard deduction, using the chart in the Form 1040 Instructions, or the Form 1040A Instructions? See How Much Is My Standard Deduction?
  • Did you figure the tax correctly? If you used the tax tables, did you use the correct column for your filing status?
  • Did you sign and date the return? If it’s a joint return, did your spouse also sign and date the return?
  • If you received an IP PIN (Identity Protection PIN) from the IRS, see “identity protection PIN” in the instructions for your form and The Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN)
  • Do you have a Form W-2 from each of your employers, and did you attach Copy B of each Form W-2 to your return? If you have more than one job, combine the wages and withholdings from all Forms W-2 you received and report those amounts on one return.
  • Did you attach each Form 1099-R that shows federal tax withholding?
  • Did you attach all other necessary schedules and forms, in the order of the sequence number shown in the upper right-hand corner?
  • Did you use the correct mailing address from your tax form instructions?
  • Did you use the correct postage on the envelope?
  • If you owe tax, did you enclose a check or money order, made payable to the “United States Treasury” with your return, and include your name, address, SSN, daytime telephone number, tax form and tax year on the payment? For additional information, refer to Topic 158.
  • If you’re due a refund and requested direct deposit, did you double-check your routing and account numbers for your financial institution?
  • Did you make a copy of the signed return and all schedules for your own records?

Editor’s note: Did you fall victim to one of these common mistakes? Read the ProConnect™ Tax Pro Center article on “How to Navigate Amending Returns for Your Client.”

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