IRS Reminds Taxpayers of Common Errors Made by Last-Minute Tax Filers

Days before tax day, the IRS has published a reminder to taxpayers of the errors commonly made when individuals rush to prepare their tax returns at the last minute.  The IRS reminder notes that taxpayers can avoid such errors if the taxpayers take time to review their return and be aware of some of the following key points.

Filing Returns Electronically

Most tax return errors occur when taxpayers file a paper federal income tax return.  Many of these errors occur because the preparer, whether the taxpayer or a tax professional, does not follow the instructions on the Form 1040 or other forms included with the tax return.  In other cases, the preparer simply makes math mistakes.

When taxpayers choose to file a tax return electronically, the tax preparation software eliminates many of the tax errors.  The software automatically performs math calculations, reviews the forms for missing information, and notifies the taxpayer of entries that appear to be erroneous.

Using Incorrect Mailing Address

The IRS has more than one address depending on the information one is mailing to them.  Again for those taxpayer filing a paper federal income tax return, it is not uncommon for such taxpayers to mail their tax return to the incorrect addresses.  Mailing a tax return to the incorrect address can lead to a delay in processing of the return or in loss of the tax return altogether.

Taxpayers who file a tax return electronically can avoid using the incorrect mailing address, since tax software automatically routes filed returns to the IRS.

Providing Inaccurate Bank Routing and Account Number

Taxpayers who would like to receive their refund faster can provide the routing number and account number where they would like the IRS to automatically deposit the tax refund.  The taxpayer can even instruct the IRS to deposit the refund across multiple bank accounts.

However, if the taxpayer provide inaccurate banking information, the IRS may be unable to deposit the refund or may deposit it into the incorrect bank account.  In either case, the mistake will delay receipt of the refund by the taxpayer.

Failing to Include Correct Forms

When filing a paper tax return, taxpayers must include certain supporting documentation.  This documentation includes W-2s to support salary and other wages earned, 1099s related to mortgage interest paid and interest, and other documentation related to withholding.

When a taxpayer fails to include all of the proper documentation, the IRS cannot process the return.  This missing documentation will lead to a delay in processing of the return by the IRS while the IRS contacts the taxpayer and the taxpayer provides the necessary documentation.

Keeping a Copy of All Filed Materials

When a taxpayer files a paper tax return, the taxpayer should keep a copy of the tax forms and all supporting documentation.  In the event the tax return is lost in the mail, the taxpayer may find it difficult and time consuming to recreate the return, because the taxpayer may have to re-request copies of documents from employers, banks, and other institutions.

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by Mark Johnston

Mark has been a contributor to legal web sites related to bankruptcy, tax, and criminal law since 2011. He has an Accounting degree from Texas A&M University.