10 tips last-minute checklist for error-free tax return

10 tips last-minute checklist for error-free tax return

It is important to ensure your tax return is error free. We provide you a 10-point last-minute checklist to make sure your tax return is error-free.

Not only the additions and subtractions need to be correct, other inputs such as your filing status, social security number, and other things could also delay your tax refund. They could also raise a red flag in IRS and cause them to audit your tax return which is the last thing you want to happen to you.

The wrong filing status could cheat you out of tax savings. Missing attachment will definitely slow IRS processing of your return and could cause penalty. Missing or incorrect Social Security number could invalidate a credit, delay your processing, delay your refund, and increase your tax bill.

In case you use tax preparation software to complete your forms, the program should check these oversights and check for any errors or missing things. But it does not hurt to quickly skim over your tax return and briefly check it out.

Do a last-minute review of your tax return to ensure it really is ready to go.

1. Use the peel-off label on your tax return

Use the peel-off label, even if it is incorrect. Using the peel-off label is a good way to prevent unreadable handwriting. If anything on the peel-off label needs to be changed, simply strike through the bad information and make corrections right on the label. If you do not have the label, then write your personal information clearly.

If your address has changed and you do not feel comfortable with the peel-off label, you can also use the Address Change form, but you will have to send that one separately from your tax return. This form should not be sent together with your tax return. See more at this page: Address change - how to notify IRS.

2. Enter your Social Security number

Make sure you enter your Social Security number correctly and in all places where it needs to be. Write it in the box provided on the return. If your SSN is missing on an attachment, IRS will have to process your return manually. If your SSN is missing completely, IRS will not process your return at all. If you and your spouse are filing a joint return, enter both tax ID numbers.

3. Select only one filing status on your tax return

Check only one filing status. Make sure it is the status that gives you the most tax advantage.

4. Count all your allowable exemptions

You claim one exemption for each dependent that you put on your tax return. Exemptions result in a specific dollar amount being subtract from your adjusted gross income. Omitting an exemption from your calculation will increase your tax base and therefore your tax too.

If claiming exemptions for dependents, be sure you include each listed person's correct Social Security number. Not including a correct social security number for your dependents with cause IRS to disallow an exemption.

5. Attach all of your W-2 wage statements to your tax return

Do not forget to attach all your W-2 statements. Remember that IRS has a way to verify whether you have attached all of them. The IRS will be checking your payment statements it receives from your employers against what you enter on your 1040.

1099 do not usually need to be attached unless federal tax has been withheld from an account that backs your 1099. People often forget to attach 1099-R. 1099-R relates to payments out of pension plans, 401K, and other. If you had some payments out of your pension plan, you most likely need to attach the 1099-R.

6. Attach all appropriate schedules

If you are filing a 1040 or 1040A and have used schedules with them, assemble the schedules in the right order. Each attachment has a sequence number in its upper-right-hand corner. Put them in that order and staple them to your return.

7. Tax due

First, make sure your math is correct!! Always triple check your numbers. Mistakes in adding or subtracting numbers raise a red flag. When calculating your effective marginal tax rate, check tax tables at the end of the tax guide, check your math with online tax calculators, do your math by hand on a piece of paper.

In case you have to send more money to the IRS, make your check or money order payable to the United States Treasury. Do not make it payable to the IRS.

The Treasury is being the technically correct recipient. The IRS is only the agency that collects payments and does the processing.

If paying with a check, do not forget to put your

  • name,
  • address,
  • Social Security number,
  • daytime phone number,
  • and note in the memo area that it's payment for 2007 Form 1040.

Put your payment in your return envelope, but do not staple it to the return itself. ITS needs to process your check before it gets to processing of your return. Your payment is removed from your documents when IRS receives your documentation and sent for depositing. Your return is sent to another department at the same time.

8. Sign and date the return

If you file a joint return, both spouses must sign the return. This applies to situations when only one spouse had income too.

9. Provide a daytime phone number on your tax return

If IRS has any questions, they will call you. It is better if they can call you than if they have to write you a letter.

If you wish to defer questions about your tax return to anyone else (tax professional, anyone you like), you can do so by providing that person's name and phone number on the tax return. IRS will have your permission to call that person for answers.

10. Use the envelope included with your tax package to mail your return

It is important to send your tax return to the right processing center. They vary by states and also by whether you owe tax and are sending a payment or not. In case you are not using a pre-addressed IRS envelope or label, make sure you are sending your return to the proper place. You can find the correct address either on the back cover of the 1040 instructions or at the IRS website.

It is always better if you can catch any oversights than if IRS has to do it for you. Any error can raise a red flag and case your tax return to be audited. You do not want to be audited.

11. Optimize your taxes

This bullet point relates more to your activities before you start throwing all the numbers into the tax return, but we feel we shall mention it on this page too. Avoiding paying taxes can result in hefty penalties and possibly even some jail time. This however does not mean you need to pay your taxes more than you really have to. There are many ways to legally lower your tax burden. Here you have a few ideas:

Marginal tax rate: How can I lower my taxes?
Alternative Minimum Tax
Expenses: section 179 tax deduction for your computer
Long term & short term capital gain and loss

If you want to read more about other tips, check the right-hand sidebar on every page on this web site. ---------> (Related Topics)

12. I need more information

In case you have questions, feel free to post them in our taxes discussion forum. The following links might benefit as well.


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