If the whole hoopla of paying the government their pound of flesh isn’t an experience that you feel grateful for, how about what they put you through when you make a simple mistake of some kind? Not only do you pay for every mistake you make on your IRS income tax return with wasted time, stress and anxiety, you also pay with good money. You would think that people would want as little contact as possible with the IRS and would try their best to get their returns right the first time around. Instead, what people do is they make the same mistakes over and over again and keep hearing from the IRS about penalties they owe. Here are a few of the top simple mistakes that get made on those tax returns to help you make sure that no one ever gets to see these on your returns.
Let’s start with your marital status. If you got married one second into the new year, you still are considered unmarried for your tax purposes this year. If you didn’t get married before the last second on December 31 ran out, you need to file as someone who’s single. If you claim the wrong filing status, you lose in all kinds of ways. For instance, you won’t be eligible for a child tax credit, earned income credit and other things you can claim for your dependents.
Whatever Social Security numbers you put in your IRS income tax return for your dependents absolutely need to match what appears on those Social Security cards. If there is any kind of mistake, you lose all your credits and deductions for your dependents. Often though, the mistakes occur because the clerks at the IRS make mistakes feeding data into their computers. There’s another reason if you needed one, why need to e-file your IRS income tax return.
The IRS is a huge, huge bureaucracy. They don’t think like you or I do. To them, these arcane form numbers, tax clauses and codes are the only things they know. They are fluent in them. When you make a mistake using the wrong form, schedule or anything else, it’s unbelievable to them. Even worse, their computers will reject your application outright. Do anything wrong, and you get closer and closer to an audit. Be sure to not do anything wrong with you choice of form as lots of people do.
And finally, here is particularly maddening one: you wouldn’t believe how many people forget to put in the date and sign at the bottom. If it’s a joint return, both spouses need to sign. If even one of you forgets to sign, the IRS considers that person as not having filed their return at all. And there will be hell to pay.