(Guest Post by Lisa Rowan)
All too often, the return of tax season is greeted with the dragging of feet and pulling of hair-and that’s even before the pencils are sharpened. Many of the headaches caused by tax preparation can be avoided with a little research and review.
Dodge these seven common tax mistakes, and make preparation and filing a bit easier this year.
- Not paying your taxes: Even if you wait until the last minute to file, it’s important to get those returns in order. If you’re not looking for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), they’ll certainly be looking for you. Don’t try to pull a Wesley Snipes move.
- Math errors: Writing in all those little boxes can be confusing, and even more so if math isn’t your strength. Remember to use a calculator and double-check your numbers. An extra set of eyes can help you catch mistakes, or invest in tax preparation software to do the math for you.
- Not signing: After all that computing, it’s easy to forget the most important part-signing and dating your return! You won’t get that coveted refund unless you sign on the line. (Editor’s note: YES! I’ve done this before – it is not fun! Don’t forget the stamps either :))
- Routing Information: It’s worth a second look to make sure that refund will arrive. If you’ve selected direct deposit, check over your account information.
- Social Security numbers: If you are married or have dependents, the number of Social Security sequences you have to remember can get overwhelming. Make sure social security numbers for all family members are correct. If any name changes have occurred, be sure to notify the Social Security Administration.
- Overlooked deductions: About ten years ago, the Government Accountability Office estimated that about on about 948,000 tax returns, taxpayers did not itemize deductions when they could have benefited. Imagine what that number must look like today! Charitable contributions, medical expenses, and even job search expenses can be deducted. To learn about what deductions can be itemized and how to do it right, the IRS has more information.
- Paying up: If you owe this year, don’t forget to include a check or money order made out to the United States Treasury. You’ll have to provide some information on your payment: name, address, social security number, daytime telephone number, tax year and form number. Write small! If you file but forget to pay, the IRS will be far from pleased.
Remember to gather your documents in advance, breathe deeply, and take your time. You have until April to get it right :)
Guest post by Lisa Rowan – a media industry researcher by day, and secondhand fashion blogger by night at www.quarterlife202.blogspot.com. She’s a total novice at personal finance and fighting her debt demons, but learns something new every day. She still does her taxes on paper, and doesn’t plan to upgrade any time soon.