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Tax Tip Tuesday: Common tax mistakes to avoid

The Internal Revenue Service says errors may cause delays in getting your refund
When filing your taxes, it's important to avoid common errors.
Posted at 2:31 PM, Feb 21, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — Filing your taxes can be confusing, and it’s easy to make a mistake.

In this week’s Tax Tip Tuesday, we are looking at the most common errors taxpayers make.

Stacy Engle, an IRS spokesperson based in Indianapolis, said one of the biggest mistakes is transposing numbers on your Social Security number.

Taxpayers also misspell their names or names of their dependents.

“Your names have to match the social security card on file,” said Engle. “If it’s not spelled exactly as it is with social security then we would reject and it would delay processing of returns.”

Engle said making an error can cause a big delay if you paper file.

“A lot of times if you electronically file, the system will reject it almost instantly,” said Engle. “It gives you the opportunity to correct it, so it only slows it down a smidge. If you paper file, then it takes 6-12 weeks to get to those returns and then we have to send you a letter through the US postal service asking you to fix whatever the error was."

Here are some of the mistakes to avoid:

  • Filing too early. While taxpayers should not file late, they also should not file too early. Wait until you’ve received all your tax reporting documents.
  • Missing or inaccurate Social Security numbers. Each SSN on a tax return should appear exactly as printed on the Social Security card.
  • Misspelled names. The names of all taxpayers and dependents listed on the return should match the names on their Social Security cards.  
  • Inaccurate information. Carefully enter any wages, dividends, bank interest and other income to make sure you report the correct amounts. Make sure to calculate credits and deductions.  
  • Incorrect filing status. Some taxpayers choose the wrong filing status. Publication 501 has detailed information about filing statuses.  
  • Math mistakes. Math errors are some of the most common mistakes, according to the IRS. They range from simple addition and subtraction to more complex calculations.
  • Figuring credits or deductions. Taxpayers can make mistakes figuring things like their earned income tax creditchild and dependent care credit and child tax credit. Tax software will calculate these credits and deductions and include any required forms and schedules, according to the IRS.  
  • Incorrect bank account numbers. Taxpayers who are due a refund should choose direct deposit. This is the fastest way for them to get their money. Make sure to use the correct routing and account numbers on your tax return.  
  • Unsigned forms. An unsigned tax return isn't valid. In most cases, both spouses must sign a joint return. Exceptions may apply for members of the armed forces or other taxpayers who have a valid power of attorney.