Filing Taxes: Accuracy and Timliness

Even when taxpayers get their tax returns prepared by a tax preparer, it is best they review the information on the return to avoid errors. Unintentional errors can lead to a delay in processing the return, which will delay the issuance of the refund.

Taxpayers can avoid errors on their tax returns if they check the more error-prone information. The information that must be reviewed before filing a tax return includes:

  • Reviewing Social Security Numbers
  • Checking filing status
  • Check name(s) for spelling errors
  • Reviewing all calculations to ensure accuracy
  • Reviewing all credits and deductions claimed
  • Reviewing numbers of bank accounts
  • Signatures on form, or in case of e-filing, the Personal Identification Number.

Taxpayers can check if their tax return was received and is being processed by the IRS through the IRS portal ‘Where’s My Refund?’ This online tool informs taxpayers when the return was received, the processing time, and the approximate date when the taxpayer can expect to receive the refund.

Correcting Mistakes: Filing an Amended Tax Return

If after the return is filed a taxpayer realizes there is an error, they may file an amended return. Math errors are corrected by the IRS automatically.

If there was a mistake with the filing status, deductions or credits claimed, or income figures, taxpayers need to file IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Tax Return. Currently, there is no facility for amended returns to be e-filed, so taxpayers must mail the form to the IRS.

To check the status of an amended tax return, taxpayers may use the new IRS online facility ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’

When Filing Taxes Late or Not Paying Fully

Taxpayers are required to pay their taxes on time even when they cannot pay the full taxes owed. Filing on time will help taxpayers avoid the late filing penalty and reduce interest and penalties charged on the debt. If taxpayers can pay the entire taxes in full, but cannot pay on time, they can request an extension of time to file. Taxpayers can use these methods to request an extension:

  • File Form 4868 (Application For Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Tax Return) electronically or by mail
  • Pay the full or a part of the tax bill through a credit or debit card, or Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EETPS)

An accurate and timely filed tax return can be achieved if a taxpayer is careful and reviews all information at the time of preparation.

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