10 Tax Filing Mistakes to Avoid

Woman filing with TaxSlayer to avoid common tax return mistakes

The information in this article is up to date through tax year 2019 (taxes filed in 2020). 

Doing your taxes yourself can be intimidating, but there are things you can do to ensure you’re filing correctly. Avoid these 10 common tax filing mistakes to ensure you’re not making any errors and that you’re getting your maximum refund. 

Mistake 1: Filing before you receive all your forms 

Make sure you have all your forms before filing. This includes W-2s, 1099s, retirement distributions, and many other forms.  

If you do not receive your forms by January 31st, do not file with your last paystub. You should wait until you receive your official W-2 or other income forms. The W-2 could be different than your paystub and result in a delayed refund or letter from the IRS later. 

If the filing deadline is approaching and you have still not received your forms, there are other steps you can take. 

Mistake 2: Not taking all the tax breaks you are eligible for 

There are so many tax credits and deductions, it is hard to keep track of them all and know which ones you are eligible for. TaxSlayer makes it easy to claim your tax breaks. It uses a Deduction Finder to determine your eligibility for all possible credits, deductions, and exemptions, so you don’t have to go digging for them yourself. Just be sure to provide accurate, thorough information as you are filling out your return.

Mistake 3: Not verifying your information 

Make sure to double-check your personal information after you enter it. This includes your name, social security number, and address. 

Also, verify any information that was previously in the system from a prior year to make sure it is still accurate.  

Review each form, whether it is an income form or a form that qualifies you for a tax break, for accuracy after you enter it. 

Mistake 4: Not reporting all your income 

If you have multiple streams of income, make sure you have all forms accounting for them when you file. If you receive your W-2 early, you must wait until your other forms, like a 1099, arrive before filing. You can enter the information into TaxSlayer and save it for later when you have your other forms. But you can’t submit your return until all your income is accounted for. 

If you are paid in cash or do not receive a tax form for your alternate stream of income, you are responsible for accurately reporting it yourself.

Read also: The Ultimate Guide to the 1099-MISC for the Freelancer

Mistake 5: Not filing on time 

The tax filing deadline is usually April 15th unless that day falls on a weekend. Then it will be the following business day. If you do not file on time and you owe taxes, you will be charged a late filing fee.  

If you are due a refund, you will not be charged a fee, but the IRS will hold your refund until you file. 

If you do not pay your tax bill on time, the IRS will charge you an additional compounding fee. 

If you are not ready to file by the deadline, file an extension instead, using Form 4868. You must still submit the extension request no later than April 15th, but then you will have six more months to file your tax return. 

Read Also: Tax Extensions 

Mistake 6: Not keeping up with the tax laws 

It’s always a good idea to brush up on the current tax rates (federal and state) and to double-check the deduction limits for any of the major tax breaks you count on. Plan ahead so you’re not completely surprised at tax time (no one likes that).   

The good news is, when it comes to filing your return, you don’t have to know the details of the tax code. TaxSlayer is always updated for all the tax law changes, and your return is guaranteed 100% accurate every year you file.

Mistake 7: Not reviewing the PDF of your return prior to filing 

Before you press submit, make sure you have reviewed all your tax information on the summary that TaxSlayer provides at the end of your filing experience. It is always good to double-check, even if you were careful while entering your forms and personal info. 

Mistake 8: Entering the wrong bank information 

If you choose direct deposit, which is recommended by the IRS to get your refund faster, make sure you enter the correct bank information. If you enter the wrong information, it can be difficult for the IRS to get your refund to you. 

Mistake 9: Not claiming the correct dependents 

Make sure you are claiming all your eligible dependents to take advantage of certain tax breaks. Claiming all your dependents can help lower your tax bill in many ways.  

Be sure that you are not incorrectly claiming anyone, as this can cause an issue with not only your return but also theirs. 

Read also: Who can I claim as a dependent? 

Mistake 10: Not filing with a trusted source 

There are many trusted DIY tax resources like TaxSlayer that can help you file your taxes. TaxSlayer does all the math for you, check for deductions and credits, and helps you to review your information. And all editions include unlimited phone and email support. Start for free today at TaxSlayer.com. 

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