Skip to content

11 Things You Must Do to "Avoid Tax Return Mistakes," IRS Says in New Alert

Make sure you keep these in tips mind ahead of next month's filing deadline.

Even if you're using the right tools, the complicated nature of the system can make it all too easy to make an honest error when filing your taxes. But in addition to being frustrating to deal with, this can also delay getting back any refunds you might be owed. Officials say there are a few tips to keep in mind before you send off your documents if you're hoping to steer clear of some of the most common flubs on your forms. Read on for the 11 things you must do to "avoid tax return mistakes," according to a new alert from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).

RELATED: IRS Issues New Warning on Claiming Expenses: "Taxpayers Should Be Careful."

Get all the necessary paperwork together.

W-9, W-4, and 1040 form, keyboard, calculator, classes, and pen
RomanR / Shutterstock

Even though it's essential to hit the April 15 deadline, being able to file your taxes isn't always something you can complete on your schedule. In a March 18 press release, the IRS reminds taxpayers to get all required tax-related forms together as early as possible.

According to the agency, this includes any 1099 and W-2 forms, but it might also include paperwork required for special deductions or mortgage interest payments. In some cases, you might also need a copy of your previous year's tax return.

File your taxes electronically.

A smiling man and woman sitting at a table filing their taxes on a laptop

There are plenty of tools that can make preparing your taxes easier on a computer. Besides saving you time while filling out forms and highlighting any extra required input, sending your information to the IRS electronically can also drastically save you time in case of any errors or adjustments.

"Electronic filing minimizes mathematical errors and identifies potential tax credits or deductions for which the taxpayer qualifies," the agency wrote in its alert.

According to the IRS, those who e-file can often expect to receive their returns in as little as 21 days—especially if they've also opted for a direct deposit into their bank account. And you may not need to pay for a premium service—taxpayers in 12 states also now have access to IRS Free File this year.

RELATED: Ex-IRS Worker Warns TurboTax Is "Trying to Make Your Taxes Harder."

Double-check all of your important identifying information.

woman working from home with taxes

There may be plenty of detailed and complex information in your tax filing. But before you get into the nitty-gritty, it's most important to ensure you have the basic information entered correctly.

The IRS reminds people to check the spelling of their names, birthdates, and Social Security numbers to ensure they're entered correctly and match what's displayed on their Social Security cards. This also goes for any dependents whose information you may be adding to your forms as well.

Proofread your banking information.

Young man and woman sitting at table with laptop and paperwork

Even though the agency says the fastest way to see your tax return is to file electronically, it won't matter if you haven't set up your payment information correctly. According to the IRS alert, ensuring you've entered the right bank account and routing numbers is essential to avoidinv any potential delays.

Make sure you enter the correct filing status.

A TurboTax app logo on a phone screen resting on top of a 1040 tax form
Tada Images/Shutterstock

Sometimes, major life changes can affect your tax preparation. If you've recently been married, divorced, widowed, become a head of household, or picked up a dependent, the IRS reminds taxpayers that might mean you'll need to consider a new filing status.

Unsure of which to pick? The agency points out that anyone looking for clarification can use the available online tool to help determine how you should be filing.

RELATED: Filing Your Taxes Later Could Boost Your Refund—But the IRS Warns Against It.

Make sure to include all taxable income.

Young woman sitting at desk with laptop and calculator, looking intently at a tax form

Taxes can be relatively straightforward if you collect a paycheck from a traditional 9-to-5 job. But if you have multiple income streams, the agency says it's vital to ensure everything is accounted for on your filing.

If you've made any cryptocurrency transactions, brought in any income with a side gig, earned interest, or even collected unemployment benefits, be sure to include that information when you send your filing in. Besides slowing up your processing time, the IRS warns that failing to pay what you owe promptly could also result in interest and penalties on top of what you already owe.

Be sure to answer the question about digital assets on your form.

man looking at cryptocurrency on phone
tdub303 / iStock

The rise of cryptocurrency has presented a new, popular form of investing. But whether or not you've decided to try your hand at this relatively new frontier, the agency warns that all taxpayers must answer the digital assets question on forms—including 1040 and 1040-SR forms—by selecting "yes" or "no" and not leaving it blank.

RELATED: 6 Tax Mistakes That Could Get You Audited, According to Finance Experts.

Don't forget to sign and date your return.

close up on person using calculator and pen to fill out 1040 form

Just as with your personal information, it can be all too easy to forget to finish the filing process with something as simple as a signature. The agency says not to forget to sign and date your return—and to be sure to include your spouse's signature if you're filing jointly.

Double-check your address if you're filing by mail.

Shot of a mature woman using a digital tablet while going through paperwork at home

If you're choosing to forgo the benefits of e-filing, it's vital that you input the correct information for physical mail.

Just as with your name and Social Security number, the IRS alert says to verify your corresponding address. This can be done on the agency's website or with instructions found on 1040 forms.

RELATED: I'm an Accountant and These Are My 5 Tax-Filing Warnings for Retirees.

Remember that you can ask for an extension.

Young woman with head in hands looking at tax forms and laptop

Sometimes, getting all the information you need to complete your tax filing can take a little longer than you anticipate. The IRS reminds taxpayers that they can request a six-month extension until Oct. 15, which will help avoid any late filing penalties.

The agency says that this can be arranged by using IRS Free File. Otherwise, you'll need to fill out a Form 4868 to buy yourself some time.

Save a copy of your return for future reference.

Close up of woman's hand holding pen and checking a tax form

Just because you're getting ready to send your information off doesn't mean you won't have to check over it again. The agency urges taxpayers to make a copy of their signed return and hold onto it for safekeeping.

"Maintaining copies can help them prepare future tax returns and figure mathematical computations in the event of filing an amended return," the agency wrote in its press release. They add that it's best to keep these documents handy until that specific returns' period of limitations passes, which is often three years.

Best Life offers the most up-to-date financial information from top experts and the latest news and research, but our content is not meant to be a substitute for professional guidance. When it comes to the money you're spending, saving, or investing, always consult your financial advisor directly.

Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
Filed Under
Sources referenced in this article
  1. Source:
  2. Source:
  3. Source:
  4. Source:
  5. Source:
  6. Source: