Tax Preparation Help  
Tax Topic #303 2008 Tax Year

Topic 303 - Checklist of Common Errors
When Preparing Your Tax Return

Before filing your return, review it to make sure it is correct and complete. The following checklist may help you to avoid common errors:

  • Did you consider filing your tax return electronically? By electronically filing your tax return, many common errors may be avoided or corrected by the computer software. Depending on your income, you may even qualify to e-file for free by using IRS Free File.
  • If you choose to file a paper return, did you use the peel–off label and enter any corrections? If you used the label, did you enter your social security number in the space provided?
  • If you do not have a label, or there are too many corrections, did you clearly print your name, social security number, and address, including zip code directly on your return?
  • Did you enter the names and social security numbers for yourself, your spouse, your dependents, and qualifying children for earned income credit or child tax credit, exactly as they appear on the social security cards? If there have been any name changes be sure to go to or call at 800–772–1213.
  • Did you check only one filing status?
  • Did you check the appropriate exemption boxes and enter the names and social security numbers exactly as they appear on the social security cards, for all of the dependents claimed? Is the total number of exemptions entered?
  • Did you enter income, deductions, and credits on the correct lines and are the totals correct?
  • If you show a negative amount on your return, did you put brackets around it?
  • If you are taking the standard deduction and checked any box indicating either you or your spouse were age 65 or older or blind, did you find the correct standard deduction using the worksheet in the Form 1040 Instructions or the Form 1040A Instructions?
  • Did you figure the tax correctly? If you used the tax tables, did you use the correct column for your filing status?
  • Did you sign and date the return? If it is a joint return, did your spouse also sign and date the return?
  • Do you have a Form W-2 (PDF) from each of your employers and did you attach Copy B of each to your return? File only one return, even if you have more than one job. Combine the wages and withholdings from all Form W-2's, on one return.
  • Did you attach each Form 1099-R (PDF) that shows federal tax was withheld?
  • Did you attach all other necessary schedules and forms in sequence number order shown in the upper right–hand corner?
  • Did you use the pre-addressed envelope that came with your tax form booklet? If you did not receive an envelope, check the section called "Where Do You File?" in the tax instruction booklet or at
  • Did you use a postage stamp on the envelope?
  • If you owe tax, did you enclose a check or money order made payable to the "United States Treasury" with the return and include your name, address, social security number, daytime telephone number, tax form, and tax year on the payment? For additional information, refer to Topic 158 , Ensuring Proper Credit of Payments.
  • If you are due a refund and requested direct deposit did you check your financial institution routing and account numbers?
  • Did you make a copy of the signed return and all schedules for your records?

A few of the most common errors are:

  1. Incorrect or missing social security numbers.
  2. Incorrect tax entered based on taxable income and filing status.
  3. Computation errors in figuring the taxable income, withholding and estimated tax payments, Earned Income Credit, Standard Deduction for age 65 or over or blind, the taxable amount of social security benefits, and child and dependent care credit. Also, missing or incorrect identification numbers for child care providers.
  4. Withholding and estimated tax payments entered on the wrong line, and
  5. Math Errors. Both addition and subtraction.

It is important that you review your entire return because any errors may delay the processing of your return.

Page Last Reviewed or Updated: December 22, 2008

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