The IRS recently sent a reminder of the upcoming filing deadline for those that filed an extension. The IRS also offered some tips for avoiding common filing mistakes.  Below is a summary of their suggestions:

Filing deadline is October 17
Don’t wait until the deadline to electronically file a complete - and accurate - return. 
Extension filers have until Oct. 17 to file, but filing electronically helps reduce processing time and correct errors. Mistakes on a tax return can also lead to longer processing time or cause the return to be rejected. Filing electronically can help taxpayers avoid many mistakes. Tax software does the math, flags common errors, and prompts taxpayers for missing information. It can also help eligible taxpayers claim overlooked credits and deductions. Another way taxpayers can avoid mistakes is by using a reputable tax preparer, including certified public accountants, enrolled agents, or other knowledgeable tax professionals.

Avoid Common Mistakes:
•    Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers.  Each SSN on a tax return should appear exactly as printed on the Social Security card.
•    Misspelled names. Likewise, a name listed on a tax return should match the name on that person's Social Security card.
•    Entering information inaccurately. Taxpayers should carefully enter wages, dividends, bank interest, and other income received and reported on an information return. This includes any information needed to calculate credits and deductions. Using tax software should help prevent math errors, but individuals should always review their tax returns for accuracy.
•    Incorrect filing status. Some taxpayers choose the wrong filing status. The Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help taxpayers choose the correct status, especially if more than one filing status applies. Tax software also helps prevent mistakes with filing status.
•    Math mistakes. Math errors are some of the most common mistakes. They range from simple addition and subtraction errors to more complex calculation mistakes. Taxpayers should always double-check their math.
•    Figuring credits or deductions. Taxpayers can make mistakes figuring things like their earned income tax credit, child and dependent care credit, child tax credit, and recovery rebate credit. The Interactive Tax Assistant can help determine if a taxpayer is eligible for tax credits or deductions. Tax software will calculate these credits and deductions and include any required forms and schedules. Taxpayers should double-check where items appear on the final return before clicking the submit button.
•    Incorrect bank account numbers. Taxpayers who are due a refund should choose direct deposit. This is the fastest way for a taxpayer to get their money. However, taxpayers need to make sure they use the correct routing and account numbers on their tax return.
•    Unsigned forms. An unsigned tax return isn't valid. In most cases, both spouses must sign a joint return. Exceptions may apply to members of the armed forces or other taxpayers who have a valid power of attorney. Taxpayers can avoid this error by filing their returns electronically and digitally signing it before sending it to the IRS.

IRS Free File Offering

IRS Free File offers online tax preparation, direct deposit of refunds, and electronic filing—all for free to qualified individuals. Some options are available in Spanish. Many taxpayers also qualify for free tax return preparation from IRS-certified volunteers.


About the Authors

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John A. Cocklereece, Jr.

John Cocklereece concentrates his practice on property tax appeals, business law, tax controversies, and estate planning and administration.
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Attorney Travis Woolen

Travis Woolen

Travis joined Bell, Davis & Pitt shortly after graduating from law school. Focusing his practice on trusts and estates, he regularly advises clients regarding the preparation of simple Wills, Revocable Trusts, and Powers of Attorney, as well as more complex tax planning trusts and other documents to carry out his clients’ desires in a tax-efficient manner. Travis also regularly helps implement estate plans by representing fiduciaries in the administration of trusts and estates.
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