Taxpayers generally want to avoid filing errors because they lead to tax problems and inconveniences. There are times when a taxpayer might experience tax filing mistakes due to complicated and sometimes confusing forms, calculations, and filing procedures. These errors can cause a delay in refunds or even tax penalties on their tax bill. Read on to learn these common tax filing errors and how to avoid them.
7 Common Tax Filing Mistakes: A List of Tax Problems
Tax Problem #1: Forgetting Estimated Tax Payments
For employed individuals, taxes are automatically withheld by employers from wages. But for the self-employed and business owners, they have to remit taxes through estimated tax payments. Those who make estimated tax payments are more prone to committing errors due to the complication of their tax declaration.
According to the Internal Revenue Services (IRS), individuals expecting to owe tax amounting to $1,000 or more need to make estimated tax payments. They must file tax returns using Form 1040-ES and consider the following:
- expected adjusted gross income
- taxable income
- applicable taxes, deductions, and credits
The IRS penalizes those who fail to pay enough estimated tax payments. Penalties, in turn, will affect taxpayers’ credit scores and their ability to secure loans.
Tax Problem #2. Not Keeping Track of Alimony
There are instances in which divorced or separated couples still have to ensure they have matching tax declarations. This holds true especially when they pay/receive alimony — a payment in cash form made under a divorce or separation instrument.
Individuals who pay alimony may deduct the amount from their income through Form 1040. Meanwhile, individuals who receive alimony must include the amount as income through Schedule NEC of Form 1040NR. The IRS imposes a $50 penalty to those who fail to follow this rule.
Tax Problem #3. Failing to Report All Income Sources
Many people have multiple sources of income apart from their regular day jobs. The IRS is reminding these individuals that earnings from all possible sources are subject to tax. This means taxpayers should include all of them in their declarations.
Apart from wages and salaries, the following are also possible sources of income:
- interest received
- business income
- capital gains
- pensions and annuities
- rental income
- farming and fishing income
- bartering income
- stock options
- awards, prizes, and contest winnings
- gambling proceeds
The penalty for late filing is 5 percent of the unpaid taxes for each month, while the penalty for late payment is 0.5 percent of your unpaid taxes for each month.
Tax Problem 4: Not Withdrawing from an IRA at the Right Age
Not all taxpayers know it, but everyone has to start making withdrawals from their Individual Retirement Account (IRA) when they reach 70 1/2 years old. By this age, taxpayers must start withdrawing the required minimum distributions (RMDs). To know your RMDs, divide your IRA account balance from the prior year by the applicable distribution period or life expectancy.
The IRS imposes a heavy penalty on those who violate this rule. Failure to withdraw RMDs at the right age will forfeit you from withdrawing 50% of your total IRA.
Tax Problem #5. Using the Wrong Filing Status
Certain tax requirements depend on the status indicated by the taxpayer. According to the IRS, there only are five filing statuses:
- single (unmarried, divorced or legally separated)
- head of household (unmarried individuals who pay more than half the household costs)
- qualifying widow/er with dependent child
- married filing jointly
- married filing separately
It is important to determine the proper filing status because this will dictate (1) credit and deduction eligibilities, and (2) tax computation. Indicating the right status will allow taxpayers to file returns and pay taxes accurately.
Tax Problem #6. Not Taking All Possible Deductions
Failure to declare all possible tax deductions may not be financially fatal for taxpayers. However, considering all possible deductions will help one reduce the amount of tax they have to pay.
The IRS will not inform taxpayers on what deductions or credits they may have overlooked. For example, the Earned Income Tax Credit is possibly the most commonly missed tax credit by most individuals. The responsibility in checking for all possible tax deductions really lies on the taxpayers.
Tax Problem #7. Making Careless Errors
Most errors result from one’s carelessness. For taxpayers, mistakes may arise because they rush their tax filings due to near-approaching deadlines. Or they get confused due to the multiple tax forms they need to fill out.
Among the common careless errors committed by some taxpayers include wrong Social Security numbers, misspelled names, and incorrect simple math calculations. These problems may result in headaches due to the inconveniences and delays they will cause taxpayers.
With this, it is very important for all taxpayers to double check all details in a tax filing, and to process tax returns and payments ahead of time.
Tax problems are unavoidable sometimes due to complications in filing and payment procedures. Make sure to keep these reminders in mind to help you avoid tax filing mistakes and prevent you from experiencing delays and penalties.
Have you ever experienced tax filing errors? Share your stories with us in the comments section below.