As all of your information is coming into your mailbox this month to prepare for your taxes (Doctor’s bills, old W-2′s, interest statements for student loans, etc.), it can be tempting (to some folks, at least) to forego the perceived “expense” of using a professional to help you save on your taxes for the year.
So, if you decide to go down that lonely road, please do at least watch out for these common errors which we routinely correct for those who have us review their previous-year returns:
* Filing the wrong status (dependent or independent, 0 instead of 1, etc.)
* Missing forms
* Forgetting to sign it (this is incredibly common! Make SURE you sign!)
* Not adhering to new laws (a biggie)
* Math errors or mixing up numbers
* Standardized deduction (one lump sum) when itemizing may return more
* Forgetting earned interest
* Not claiming your charitable donations (more common than you’d think!)
* Incorrect social security numbers
* Missing the deadlines
* Not checking last year’s taxes to see if anything carries over (again, very common — and a good reason to have a pro check it out)
* Not taking deductions where they’re pertinent (IRA’s, too much Social Security being taken out)
* Failing to include dependents who don’t live with you
* Claiming someone as a dependent who claimed themselves as independent
* Not filing domestic or self-employment taxes
* Not claiming credits where they’re due (Child Tax Credit, Earned Income Credit)
So what can you do to correct all of these errors?
1) Double check. And triple check. Then check again. The idea here is that when another pair of eyes look at it, they can see stuff you don’t. Your mind will tell you that things that you write or calculate are correct, even if they aren’t.
2) Go to a professional. Self-serving? Why, yes. But as I mentioned in my introduction, we get paid to know what we do, and following the tax code permutations is our J-O-B. We’ve seen so many tax returns, even already this year, that what would take you 12 hours — can be accomplished by me and my practiced team in one.
I’m not suggesting we never make mistakes … but can you really afford to skimp when thousands are on the line?