Everyone makes mistakes, but making a mistake on your income-tax return can cost you. It could delay your refund, boost your tax bill, require an amended return or even trigger an audit. Before you submit your return electronically or put it in the mail, double-check to make sure you haven’t made any errors.
Simple slip ups
Many tax-return mistakes are simple ones. Ensure that you’ve entered the correct name, address and Social Security number for every person listed on your return. Another frequent error is to enter the right information on the wrong line. So it pays to go through your return line by line.
Clear up confusion
It’s important that you use the right filing status. If you’re not sure which filing status is right for you, use the interactive tool “What is My Filing Status?” on www.irs.gov. You can also check the IRS website to figure out who you can claim as a dependent. Once you determine who qualifies as your dependent(s), verify that you have checked the appropriate exemption boxes for your personal, spousal and dependency exemptions.
Correctly calculate credits and deductions
If you’re claiming any credits, such as the dependent care credit, you need to follow the instructions carefully. And check that you have completed the necessary forms or schedules. If you’re taking the standard deduction, verify that you are claiming the correct one. You can use the chart in the Form 1040 Instructions or use the interactive tool “How Much is My Standard Deduction?” on www.irs.gov.
Check your math
It’s very easy and common to make simple math errors while preparing your tax return. It’s a good idea to double-check that you’ve added and subtracted all numbers correctly and that you haven’t transposed any numbers. Ensure that you used the right column on the tax table when figuring out your tax.
Final details matter
Don’t be in such a rush to finish your return that you forget a few final, simple steps. If you’re filing a paper return, verify that you (and your spouse if it’s a joint return) have signed and dated the return. Attach Copy B of each Form W-2 that you received from your employers. Attach each Form 1099-R that shows federal tax withholding. And attach all other necessary schedules and forms in sequence number order. Make a copy of the return and all attachments for your own records. Use the correct mailing address from your tax form instructions, and include a check or money order if you owe tax. And, finally, check that you put sufficient postage on your envelope.
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