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Look Out for These 7 Mistakes When Filing Your 2024 Taxes

 Look Out for These 7 Mistakes When Filing Your 2024 Taxes

We’re in the homestretch of the 2024 tax season: Most US taxpayers have to file by April 15. If you’re filing this week, online tax software can help simplify the process and ensure you receive your refund quickly. Just be careful you don’t rush through the process. Otherwise, you could make mistakes that get your tax return rejected or your tax refund delayed.

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If you want to receive your full tax refund on time, double-check our list of common tax return errors below. Mistakes aren’t the end of the world — if your tax return is rejected and you’ve filed your taxes on time, the IRS will give you five days to correct your information and refile.

This story is part of Taxes 2024, CNET’s coverage of the best tax software, tax tips and everything else you need to file your return and track your refund.

Find out how to avoid the most common mistakes made when filing taxes. For more tax tips, here’s how to file your taxes for free and whether you should wait to file your taxes if you’re claiming the child tax credit.

Mistake No. 1: Filing your tax return late

The IRS estimates that about 20% of taxpayers wait until the week before the deadline to file their tax returns. If you owe the IRS money, that’s not necessarily a bad tactic, but if you have a refund coming, that’s playing with fire.

Procrastinating on your taxes leaves little wiggle room if problems arise, and not filing your return on time will complicate the status of your tax refund. If you owe the IRS money, you’ll need to pay a late filing fee and other penalties will start to accrue.

It’s free to file a six-month tax extension until Oct. 15, but you’ll have to pay estimated taxes owed and you’re losing money if you’re expecting a refund.

Mistake No. 2: Typos in names or Social Security numbers

This mistake might seem ridiculous, but it’s more common than you may think. Be sure to enter your full name exactly as it is spelled on your Social Security card, as well as the exact Social Security number. If either is not exactly the same, your tax return will be rejected. 

If your legal name has changed, you’ll need to contact the Social Security Administration first to update it, and then file your taxes with your proper name.

Mistake No. 3: Entering an incorrect AGI from last year

When you file your tax return electronically, the IRS uses your adjusted gross income, or AGI, from the prior year to verify your identity. That means you need your exact AGI from your 2022 tax return to file your 2023 taxes online. If you don’t match last year’s AGI, your tax return will be rejected and you’ll have to file again.

If you’ve lost your tax return from last year, you can look up your AGI from 2022 by requesting an instant transcript on the IRS website, although you’ll need to create a free online IRS account first. If you didn’t file taxes last year, you should enter $0 for your 2022 AGI while filing this year’s return. 

Mistake No. 4: Using the wrong filing status

US taxpayers can file their tax returns as Single, Married Filing Jointly, Married Filing Separately, Head of Household and Qualifying Widow(er) with Dependent Child. Your filing status determines your standard deduction, eligibility for tax credits and your overall tax burden. 

The IRS’ What Is My Filing Status? tool will help you determine your own situation and make the proper selection. If your filing status is incorrect, at best you’ll need to file an amended return with Form 1040-X. At worst, the IRS may suspect tax fraud and investigate.

Mistake No. 5: Math errors on tax credits and deductions

piggy bank and calculator piggy bank and calculator

Don’t let arithmetic mistakes bring you down.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Child tax credit, earned income tax credit, mortgage interest deduction, child care deduction — the worksheets and rules for many such tax items can be tricky to calculate on your own. A mistyped number or wrong calculation can result in an inaccurate tax refund, meaning you’re either losing possible money or will have to pay an overage back with fees and penalties.

Quality tax software will nearly eliminate these sorts of errors, collecting and calculating all of the numbers you need to file your taxes correctly. All the top tax products offer accuracy guarantees that will pay for any losses or penalties if their software makes calculation errors. You’ll still need to enter the correct information for tax software to work successfully, so be sure to double-check all your numbers before filing.

If you prefer to do your taxes yourself the old-fashioned way, the IRS’ Interactive Tax Assistant can help with a wide range of credit and deduction calculations.

Mistake No. 6: Getting your bank account or routing numbers wrong

File electronically with direct deposit and you’ll get your refund in about 21 days, according to the IRS. It won’t work if you enter the wrong bank account or routing numbers when you file your tax return. Once the IRS has accepted your return, it’s too late to change your banking info.

If the IRS cannot deposit your refund electronically into your bank account, it will send you a paper check at the mailing address listed on your tax return, which the IRS says will take six to eight weeks, although you can set up alerts with the Postal Service to know when it will arrive.

If you accidentally enter valid account and routing numbers that aren’t yours on your tax return, the IRS may deposit your tax refund money into someone else’s bank account. In that case, you’ll need to contact the bank and likely visit an office in person to prove your identity and explain the situation with documentation. After you get the bank to return the money, you’ll receive a paper check in the mail from the IRS.

Mistake No. 7: Forgetting to sign your tax return

Filing a paper tax return will slow down your tax refund considerably. Filing it without a signature will cause the IRS to reject your return and ask you to file again, making the process considerably slower.

If you’re married and filing jointly, both partners need to sign the tax return. There are exceptions for active military members overseas and others needing to use a third party with power of attorney.

File electronically, sign your return digitally and you’ll never have to worry about this mistake ever.

For more tax tips, learn about all the possible tax breaks for homeowners and all the benefits you get when you file taxes early.

Read more: The Dip in 2024 Tax Refunds: Why It’s Happening and How to Tweak Your W-4

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