Oops! Common Errors When Preparing A Tax Return

It’s a good feeling when you complete your tax return. Now the last thing to do is hit the submit button and send it off to the IRS….not so fast! Check out these common errors first to avoid frustration and wasted time down the road.


E-file your return – Ok so this isn’t really an error but a way to avoid errors. E-filed returns are processed through the IRS e-file system which often detects common errors before it gets sent to the IRS. I’m always impressed when I see people bringing in their hand filled out tax returns but they are rarely free from errors. Time to switch to e-file and avoid simple mistakes.

Check the Easy Inputs – It sounds simple but double check your social security number, name, current address, and zip code. These all could affect your tax return and more importantly your refund. Many times people move but fail to update their tax return because the data is pulled forward from a prior year return. Note, Social Security Numbers should be listed exactly as they appear on your social security card. Save yourself the hassle and check the easy stuff.

Filing Status – Make sure you check your filing status. Married Filing Jointly and Single are easy but are you sure you don’t meet the criteria for head of household? It’s worth checking to make sure because it could save you some money. Check this link to make sure you’re filing the right tax status. What is my Filing Status?

Exemptions – Did you take all of your exemptions? There are personal, spousal, and dependency exemptions. Make sure you take all the ones you are eligible for. Review these two pages to see if you qualify. Personal/Spousal Exemptions and Dependency Exemptions.

Paper Filing – If you insist on doing things the old fashioned way make sure you list all income, credits and deductions on the correct lines and use the appropriate schedules. Don’t forget to put brackets around your negative amounts. And double check your math!

Standard Deduction isn’t so standard – If you are taking the standard deduction and are over the age of 65 did you find the correct “standard deduction” using the chart included in the 1040 instructions. Look here to make sure - How Much Is My Standard Deduction? 

Taxes Owed – Did you figure your tax liability correctly? Use this tax table to make sure. Don’t forget to us the correct column based on your filing status. Tax Tables

John Hancock – Did you sign the return? If filing a joint return, did your spouse sign and date the return?

Attachments – Did you attached all of the correct forms to your tax return? You should include a W-2 from each of your employers (copy B) and 1099-R’s? This is only necessary for paper filers. Just another reason to e-file.

Payments – If you we tax did you include a check or money order with your tax return? Is the check made payable to the “United States Treasury” and does it include your name, address, social security number, phone number, tax form, and tax year? For Minnesota tax make sure the check is made out to Minnesota Revenue and includes the same information as your federal payment. If using a payment voucher make sure you include the voucher with the payment. If using direct debit/credit check and double check your account number and routing numbers. This is an easy one to mess up and can really delay your refund.

Copies – Did you make a copy of your tax return with all the supporting schedules? If you use PJF Tax we keep a copy of your return on file for you free of charge!

It’s very important that you review your entire return even if you had someone prepare it for you. No one knows your tax situation better than you so make sure you are reviewing your tax professional’s work – ask questions if you don’t understand something. Many of these common errors can delay the processing of your return.

Reach out to us at PJF Tax if you need any help preparing or reviewing your tax return. We can also review your previous year’s returns for errors and amend if necessary.

Thanks For Another Great Tax Season

Where is My Refund?!