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Tag Archive | "refund"

Eight common tax mistakes to avoid


 

We all make mistakes. But if you make a mistake on your tax return, the IRS may need to contact you to correct it. That will delay your refund.

You can avoid most tax return errors by using IRS e-file. People who do their taxes on paper are about 20 times more likely to make an error than e-filers. IRS e-file is the most accurate way to file your tax return.

Here are eight common tax-filing errors to avoid:

1. Wrong or missing Social Security numbers.  Be sure you enter all SSNs on your tax return exactly as they are on the Social Security cards.

2. Wrong names.  Be sure you spell the names of everyone on your tax return exactly as they are on their Social Security cards.

3. Filing status errors.  Some people use the wrong filing status, such as Head of Household instead of Single. The Interactive Tax Assistant on IRS.gov can help you choose the right one. Tax software helps e-filers choose.

4. Math mistakes.  Double-check your math. For example, be careful when you add or subtract or figure items on a form or worksheet. Tax preparation software does all the math for e-filers.

5. Errors in figuring credits or deductions.  Many filers make mistakes figuring their Earned Income Tax Credit, Child and Dependent Care Credit, and the standard deduction. If you’re not e-filing, follow the instructions carefully when figuring credits and deductions. For example, if you’re age 65 or older or blind, be sure you claim the correct, higher standard deduction.

6. Wrong bank account numbers.  You should choose to get your refund by direct deposit. But it’s important that you use the right bank and account numbers on your return. The fastest and safest way to get a tax refund is to combine e-file with direct deposit.

7. Forms not signed or dated.  An unsigned tax return is like an unsigned check; it’s not valid. Remember that both spouses must sign a joint return.

8. Electronic filing PIN errors.  When you e-file, you sign your return electronically with a Personal Identification Number. If you know last year’s e-file PIN, you can use that. If not, you’ll need to enter the Adjusted Gross Income from your originally-filed 2012 federal tax return. Don’t use the AGI amount from an amended 2012 return or a 2012 return that the IRS corrected.

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Tax refund withholdings and offsets


If you owe money because of certain delinquent debts, the IRS or the Department of Treasury’s Financial Management Service (FMS), which issues IRS tax refunds, can offset or reduce your federal tax refund or withhold the entire amount to satisfy the debt.

Here are seven important facts the IRS wants you to know about tax refund offsets:
1.    If you owe federal or state income taxes your refund will be offset to pay those taxes. If you had other debt such as child support or student loan debt that was submitted for offset, FMS will take as much of your refund as is needed to pay off the debt, and send it to the agency authorized to collect the debt. Any portion of your refund remaining after an offset will be refunded to you.

2.    You will receive a notice if an offset occurs. The notice will reflect the original refund amount, your offset amount, the agency receiving the payment, and the address and telephone number of the agency.

3.    You should contact the agency shown on the notice if you believe you do not owe the debt or you are disputing the amount taken from your refund.

4.    If you filed a joint return and you’re not responsible for the debt, but you are entitled to a portion of the refund, you may request your portion of the refund by filing IRS Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation. Attach Form 8379 to your original Form 1040, Form 1040A, or Form 1040EZ or file it by itself after you are notified of an offset.
5.    If you file a Form 8379 with your return, write “INJURED SPOUSE” at the top left corner of the Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ. IRS will process your allocation request before an offset occurs.

6.    If you are filing Form 8379 by itself, it must show both spouses’ social security numbers in the same order as they appeared on your income tax return. You, the “injured” spouse, must sign the form. Do not attach the previously filed Form 1040 to the Form 8379. Send Form 8379 to the Service Center where you filed your original return.

7.    The IRS will compute the injured spouse’s share of the joint return for you. Contact the IRS only if your original refund amount shown on the FMS offset notice differs from the refund amount shown on your tax return.

Follow the instructions on Form 8379 carefully and be sure to attach the required forms to avoid delays. If a notice is not received contact the Financial Management Service at 800–304–3107, Monday through Friday from 7:30AM to 5 PM (Central Time).

For assistance with completing Form 8379, call the IRS toll-free number 800-829-1040.

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Checking the status of your refund


If you already filed your federal tax return and are due a refund, you have several options to check on your refund. Here are eight things the IRS wants you to know about checking the status of your refund:
1. Online Access to Refund Information. Where’s My Refund? is an interactive tool on www.irs.gov and is the fastest, easiest way to get information about your federal income tax refund. Whether you split your refund among several accounts, opted for direct deposit into one account, used part of your refund to buy U.S. Savings Bonds or asked the IRS to mail you a check, Where’s My Refund? gives you online access to your refund information, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s quick, easy and secure.
2. When to Check Refund Status. If you e-file, you can get refund information 72 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of your return. If you file a paper return, refund information will generally be available three to four weeks after mailing your return.
3. What You Need to Check Refund Status. When checking the status of your refund, have your federal tax return handy. To get your personalized refund information you must enter:
•    Your Social Security Number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number
•    Your filing status, which will be Single, Married Filing Joint Return, Married.
•    Filing Separate Return, Head of Household, or Qualifying Widow(er).
•    Exact whole dollar refund amount shown on your tax return.
4. What the Online Tool Will Tell You. Once you enter your personal information, you could get several responses, including:
•    Acknowledgement that your return was received and is in processing.
•    The mailing date or direct deposit date of your refund.
•    Notice that the IRS could not deliver your refund due to an incorrect address. In this instance, you may be able to change or correct your address online using Where’s My Refund?
5. Customized Information. Where’s My Refund? also includes links to customized information based on your specific situation. The links guide you through the steps to resolve any issues affecting your refund. For example, if you do not get the refund within 28 days from the original IRS mailing date shown on Where’s My Refund?, you may be able to start a refund trace.
6. Visually Impaired Taxpayers. Where’s My Refund? is also accessible to visually impaired taxpayers who use the Job Access with Speech screen reader used with a Braille display and is compatible with different JAWS modes.
7. Toll-free Number. If you do not have internet access, you can check the status of your refund in English or Spanish by calling the IRS Refund Hotline at 800-829-1954 or the IRS TeleTax System at 800-829-4477. When calling, you must provide your or your spouse’s Social Security number, filing status and the exact whole dollar refund amount shown on your return.
8. IRS2Go. This is the IRS’ first smartphone application that lets taxpayers check on the status of their tax refund. Apple users can download the free IRS2Go application by visiting the Apple App Store. Android users can visit the Android Marketplace to download the free IRS2Go app.

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