Tax season can be stressful for millions of hardworking American taxpayers and result in unforeseen errors that can make the filing process even more difficult than it needs to be.
April 18 is the annual deadline for millions of Americans to file their individual income tax returns to the Internal Revenue Service. A combination of particular tax forms must be filled out with precise and accurate information.
However, taxpayers who file their taxes with little or no help often make common errors. Follow the steps below to avoid these headaches during the tax season.
Can you get in trouble for filing wrong?
In most circumstances, an involuntary mistake or error made before you file your taxes will not lead to you facing years behind bars. The reality of the situation is that tens of millions of people file their taxes every year, and statistically, a certain portion makes a mistake somewhat frequently. The Internal Revenue Service does not have a specific penalty for involuntary mistakes, but individuals may face penalties for incorrect tax returns.
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However, falsifying your tax returns or lying about the amount of individual income you have does face a heavier penalty. Individuals who commit fraud, tax evasion or other financial-related crimes may face hundreds of thousands of dollars in fines and spend years in prison as a convicted felon.
How can I avoid mistakes when filing my taxes?
Some of the most common mistakes taxpayers make when filing their annual returns are avoidable and often due to oversight or a simple mistake, including forgetting to sign or date the return, sending the tax return to the wrong IRS office, arranging tax forms in the wrong order or forgetting to add the proper forms to your file.
To avoid simple math mistakes or filing errors, paying for a virtual or in-person accountant will help ease some of the stress associated with the tax season. In addition, individuals are allowed to pay online filing companies to assist them in constructing their tax portfolio and confirming they have all the necessary documentation for the IRS.
Most of this software can be accessed online and allow users to file electronically to prevent common mistakes by flagging errors, alerting taxpayers to missing information and correctly calculating all the math steps in the filing process. Certain programs also claim deductions and credits for their users.
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Can I fix filing mistakes after I’ve filed?
If you file your tax returns and then realize after the April 18 deadline that you made a mistake, there are avenues you can pursue to alert the IRS of the errors and revise them. First, taxpayers must fill out Form 1040-X, which allows them to make changes to the original Form 1040 regarding their individual tax returns.
In most cases, the IRS will allow taxpayers to amend their returns within a three-year time frame from when the tax return was originally filed, or two years after the taxes were paid. In either case, once you find out you made a mistake on your tax return, it is recommended that you act as early as possible to fix the errors and fill out the necessary paperwork.
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