“There is nothing certain in this life but death and taxes.” It’s an old saying but one that still rings true for those struggling to file their taxes and looking for a refund. As tax season comes to a close, many people can be found trying to puzzle the tax documents out either with a CPA, by themselves, or by using an online option. While figuring out your taxes for yourself can be difficult, there are five common mistakes people tend to make when doing so. If you’re anxious about filing, read through this list and double-check your paperwork.
1. Bad Math
It seems silly, but one of the most common problems people have when filing taxes is simply not getting the math right. Even a slight error while calculating can sometimes lead to not only not receiving a refund but perhaps even owing the IRS more money. Whether you’ve added or subtracted something improperly, or even if you’ve simply transposed a number, things can get ugly very fast. Using an online program makes it easier to avoid this as it does the calculations for you. However, you should always double-check to make sure the figures you started out with are correct.
2. Name Changes and Misspellings
Most people associate the IRS with numbers. While it’s true that most of the information you’ll be giving will be in numerical form, they also pay attention to the names that are mentioned on the returns. If these names happen to be different from the names that the IRS has on file as being connected to the Social Security number, that will likely delay your refund or even kick your tax forms out of the processing line. Look out for misspellings of your name, which can easily be done. If you’ve changed your last name because of marriage or divorce, make sure to inform the SSA.
3. Extra Income
We all know that you have to take into account all of the money you made from your job for the fiscal year. Most of us even know to include bonuses and the like. However, few people stop and think about adding in the additional income they might have from other sources. If you’ve taken any side jobs throughout the year, that is definitely something you should include in your tax filings. If you’ve done this legitimate side work, you likely filled out a form, called a 1099-MISC, which will detail how much you earned, making it easier to add it in.
4. Factoring In Charity
Something else everyone knows about taxes: You get to write off charitable donations. However, if you dig a little deeper, you’ll find, beneath the surface, most people aren’t quite sure what that means. Also, donation laws can be tricky! For one, you should make sure that anything you donated, whether it be money, food, or anything else, was donated to a charity with a tax-exempt status. If you’re donating things such as clothes and household items, they must be in good shape or eligible for a write-off. And, remember: you’re writing off what it would sell for now, not when you bought it!
It’s something so easy but something that puts a halt on a lot of people’s tax refunds: forgetting to sign your name. When filing taxes, there are quite a few times when you’ll need to sign your name, either in ink, if done in person, or electronically using a PIN if done online. Dating, too, is a necessity, and you should make sure that the date is correct. One missed signature or date and you’ve got a problem on your hands. The best way to go about avoiding this mistake is to simply read thoroughly and ensure you’ve signed where you were supposed to. Pay close attention!
Making the Process Easier
Filing taxes is a bit complicated at the best of times. It can be remarkably easy to make mistakes. However, with a bit of diligence and these tips, the process will be smooth and quick.