Waiting until the last minute to do your taxes is stressful enough. Staying up until the stroke of midnight on April 15 only to receive a notice from the IRS is even worse.
Unfortunately, many last-minute tax filers fall victim to some simple and easily avoidable mistakes. In their haste to get it all done, and the stress they feel trying to beat the looming deadline, they make mistakes that delay their refunds and attract the attention of the tax collectors at the IRS.
You do not have to fall victim to the same blunders, and if you know what the most common mistakes are, you can take steps to avoid them. No matter how short the time, taking a few minutes to double- and triple-check your paperwork will be well worth your while.
Most Common but Most Easily Avoidable Last-minute Tax Mistakes
- Missing or incorrect Social Security numbers. It is easy to flub a digit or transpose numbers when entering your SSN. Always make sure your Social Security number and your spouse’s are accurate and complete.
- Errors in bank account information. Having your refund direct deposited can speed your refund, but only if the account and routing numbers are correct. These kinds of mistakes are all too common, and they could derail your refund until the error is corrected.
- Transposing numbers from W2 and 1099 forms. It is easy to transpose a number or misreport a figure, especially when you are racing to meet the IRS deadline. Remember the IRS gets copies of all your income documents, so double-check those figures and make sure they are reported accurately.
- Misspelled names. It may seem silly, but many last-minute tax filers spell their names wrong on their returns. Something as simple as a misspelled name could trigger extra attention from the IRS, delay your refund and cause you grief to no end. So, do yourself a favor and double-check the spelling of your name.
- Wrong tax filing status. Leaving your filing status blank, or choosing the wrong filing status, could cost you money and delay the processing of your refund. Be sure to choose the right filing status, and double-check the rules of filing as head of household. This special filing status can reduce your tax bill, but only if you meet the stringent requirements.
- Filing an unsigned return. If you are filing a paper return, make sure your signature is on the last line before you head for the post office on April 15. If you are filing electronically, be sure your electronic signature and your IRS-supplied PIN are in place before you hit send.
Tax Filing Deadline & Extensions
The tax filing deadline will be here before you know it, and time is already running short. If you still have not filed your return, now is the time to get going. Just be sure that a last-minute oversight or rushing-induced blunder does not derail your return and cause your long-awaited refund to be delayed.
Now that you know what to look out for, it will be easier to get your taxes done and set your mind at ease. You do not have to let a looming deadline force you into silly mistakes that could attract the attention, and the ire, of the IRS.
It is also important to note that the tax filing deadline may not be as tight as you think. If you are due a refund, you can get an extra six months to file just by asking for an extension. Even if you owe money to the IRS, an extension can buy you some extra time. You will still have to pay what you owe, but the six month extension will give you extra time to verify your figures and file your paperwork with the tax man.