As the April 18 income tax filing deadline approaches, millions of taxpayers may be rushing to complete their taxes and many may realize they're going to need more time. The IRS encourages taxpayers to take extra time to complete their tax return if needed.
Rushing to complete a tax return at the last minute can result in mistakes. Making a mistake on a tax return means it will likely take longer for the IRS to process it. That could delay a tax refund. Avoid many common errors by filing electronically. IRS e-file is the most accurate way to file your tax return. Seven out of ten taxpayers can use IRS Free File software at no cost.
Here are more helpful tips to avoid some common tax-filing errors:
File electronically. Filing electronically, whether through e-file or IRS Free File, vastly reduces tax return errors, as the tax software does the calculations, flags common errors and prompts taxpayers for missing information.
Mail a paper return to the right address. Paper filers should check IRS.gov or their tax form instructions for the appropriate address where to file to avoid processing delays.
Take a close look at the tax tables. When figuring tax using the tax tables, taxpayers should be sure to use the correct column for the filing status claimed.
Fill in all requested information clearly. When entering information on the tax return, including Social Security numbers, take the time to be sure it is accurate and easy to read. Also, check only one filing status and the appropriate exemption boxes.
Review all figures. While software catches and prevents many errors on e-file returns, math errors remain common on paper returns.
Get the right routing and account numbers. Requesting direct deposit of a federal tax refund into one, two or even three accounts is convenient and allows the taxpayer access to their money faster. Make sure the financial institution routing and account numbers entered on the return are accurate. Incorrect numbers can cause a refund to be delayed or deposited into the wrong account.
Sign and date the return. If filing a joint return, both spouses must sign and date the return. When filing an individual tax return electronically, taxpayers must electronically sign the tax return using a personal identification number (PIN): either the Self-Select PIN or the Practitioner PIN method.
Attach all required forms. Paper filers need to attach W-2s and other forms to the front of their returns that reflect tax withholding. If requesting a payment agreement with the IRS, also attach Form 9465 to the front of the return. Attach all other necessary schedules and forms to the upper right-hand corner of the tax form in the order shown in the instructions.
Keep a copy of the return. Once ready to be filed, taxpayers should make a copy of their signed return and all schedules for their records.
Request a filing extension. For taxpayers who cannot meet the April 18 deadline, requesting a filing extension is easy and will prevent late-filing penalties. Either use Free File or Form 4868. But keep in mind that while an extension grants additional time to file, tax payments are still due on April 18.
Owe tax? If so, a number of e-payment options are available. Or send a check or money order payable to the “U.S. Treasury.” Taxpayers may find additional help and resources on IRS.gov, including the IRS Services Guide.