5 Tax Filing Mistakes to Avoid Like the Plague

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  • According to the IRS, the average taxpayer spends 13 hours preparing a tax return.
  • Tax filing software can help reduce mistakes by flagging common errors.
  • Using a reputable tax preparer can also help reduce tax mistakes.

Avoid this tax mistakes so you don't have problems during tax time.

The average taxpayer spends 13 hours preparing a tax return. This number can vary widely based on the complexity of your personal financial situation. But no matter your situation, tax filing mistakes can potentially delay your tax return or even result in tax penalties. Here are the five most common tax filing mistakes to avoid.

Inaccurate or incorrect information

Taxpayers’ names and social security numbers must exactly match what is on their Social Security cards. The IRS compares tax return information with the Social Security Administration’s database. In addition, taxpayers need to ensure their bank information is correct. The fastest way to receive a tax refund is through direct deposit, and incorrect routing or account numbers can delay tax returns.

Incorrect filing status

There are five tax filing status options. Choosing the wrong status can result in a higher tax liability. Taxpayers can use the Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov or work with their tax preparer to help choose the right status. Tax software can also help prevent mistakes with filing status.


Math errors are easy to make. In addition to simple addition and subtraction mistakes, taxpayers often miscalculate credits and deductions. If taxpayers are preparing returns by hand, it is particularly important to double-check the math. Tax software can automate some calculations.

Figuring credits or deductions

Taxpayers can make mistakes figuring out credits and deductions. They may be eligible for an earned income tax credit or child and dependent care credit, and taxpayers over 65 or blind, should claim the correct (higher) standard deduction if they're not itemizing. The Interactive Tax Assistant, tax software, or a tax preparer can help determine if a taxpayer is eligible for tax credits or deductions. It is also important to attach required forms and schedules.

Unsigned forms

All the work that goes into completing a tax return can be for nothing if the return is unsigned. In the eyes of the IRS, an unsigned tax return isn't valid. In most cases, both spouses must sign a joint return. Exceptions may apply for those with a power of attorney, or for members of the military. Taxpayers can avoid this error by filing a return electronically and digitally signing it before sending it to the IRS.

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