Common Tax Mistakes and Overlooked Deductions.
That Dreaded Five Letter Word, Taxes.
Over the years I have always done my own taxes except for a couple of years. I went back to doing my own after being audited a few years back after a professional did our return. I am not a tax expert but I have made mistakes over the years and have learned never to let my guard down when filling out my return. For many years many of us did ours by hand with no help from tax software or online sights. We had a pencil and a calculator when filling out tax forms. It was very easy to make mistakes that could be avoided. Even if you are paying a tax preparer double check their work. If something does not look right question them about it. Better to catch the mistake prior to sending off your return than having to deal with correcting it after the IRS has it.
Tax Guide and Tax Preparation
- Make sure your address is correct and make changes if you have the pre-printed label. If you have to hand write your address, make sure it is legible.
- Claiming the wrong status could deny your ability to claim the child tax credit, the earned-income credit and dependent exemptions. So, make sure you check the appropriate box for your filing status and check the correct exemptions.
- Make sure your social security number is correct. I had issues with my return being rejected when doing it online and come to find out my birth month was wrong on their end. The SSN office was helpful they told me what they had on record. I did my return then headed to the nearest SSN office with my birth certificate to make the change. The bottom line is making sure all information pertaining to you SSN is correct.
- This next mistake is easy to do if you are not paying attention. If you are using the IRS tax table pay attention to what column you are looking at.
- This one can cause a problem so remember to claim all income.
- Make sure you have all appropriate documentation. Such as, W2’s, 1099’s and receipts to back up what you have filled out on your tax form.
- Do your math and double check your figures. This is the leading reason your figures change after you have submitted your taxes to the IRS.
- Make copies of your tax returns and all documentation to support your claim if you are audited. Take your copied documents and file it. I suggest having a copy on a disk and a hard copy in your files.
- If you owe the government money make sure to include your payment (no cash) and make sure you have tax year, SSN and tax form number written on your check or money order.
- If you are receiving a refund and are doing direct deposit, make sure your routing number and account number is correct.
- One of the biggest mistakes is not signing your return. If you are filing a joint return make sure the spouse signs too. Keep track of your return on-line with the IRS if there is a problem it will show up here.
- This one is a common oversight and many will not confess to it. It is almost as embarrassing as forgetting to sign your return. If you are mailing your return make sure you go into the Post Office and have them weigh it and STAMP it.
Many taxpayers each year over pay in taxes because they failed to claim all deductions and tax credit. Such credits and deductions include student loan expense, tuition expenses, refinancing points, alimony, paid child and dependent care expenses. Here is a list of some of the deductions you can claim on your taxes:
Visit the IRS website to review all deductions and credits for businesses and individuals.
- If you turned 65 in 2011, you now get a bigger standard deduction than the younger folks.
- Write off out-of-pocket costs incurred while doing work for a charity,and if you drove your car for charitable work deduct 14 cents per mile plus parking.
- Deduct up to $2,500 of student-loan interest paid by you the parent of a college student.
- Moving expenses.
- Job search expenses - food, lodging, transportation, printing resumes, cab fares, and employment agency fees can be deducted.
- For Military Reservist do not forget to deduct your travel expenses. Check the parameters to see if you qualify for this deduction.
- Medical and Dental expenses may be deducted. There are parameters so make sure you know what you can and cannot deduct. Some things that are not covered are over-the-counter drugs and cosmetic surgery.
- Charitable Contributions: you will need to fill out form 8283.
- Educational Expenses: tuition, books, supplies, and other costs. There are forms you will need to fill out.
- Adoption Credit: There is an income limit on the adoption credit or exclusion is based on your modified adjusted gross income.
Get It Done
Many of these are not mistakes on the actual form but can hold up your return from being processed. My other advice is not waiting till the last minute to get your taxes done. If you feel that you are going to be close then get yourself an extension for filing. If you are doing your own return and have a problem, the IRS is helpful. I know some that have had bad experiences with the IRS but don’t let this hold you back from asking for help. Many times checking the IRS website will have the answer's and it doesn't cost you a thing.