Taxes: The Top 10 Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Tax Return

A woman holding a large pile of files and documents in preparation for filling out her tax return

A woman holding a large pile of files and documents in preparation for filling out her tax return | Express/Getty Images

The middle of April is one of the most stressful stretches of the year for millions of Americans. But often, that’s needlessly so. April 18 is the day that your taxes are due this year — the day by which you need to have sent the government your tax return. Many people either procrastinate when doing their taxes, remain willfully and blissfully ignorant of it, or lose their minds trying to nail down every possible deduction.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. You can save yourself time, stress, and often money by taking some simple preparatory steps. We all make mistakes when preparing our tax return. Most of them are entirely avoidable.

It’s not difficult to make a mistake of some sort during the filing process, especially as the tax code continues to grow in both length and complexity. Chances are good that if you make a small error, the IRS won’t come knocking. But it will take longer to process your return, and the IRS might even need to contact you in order to make the necessary corrections. This will almost certainly delay your refund. In some cases, such as with unreported earnings, you might owe penalties and interest.

The good news? The most common filing errors are often the simplest. That means these mistakes are easy to make but also easy to correct. According to the IRS, people who do their taxes on paper are about 20 times more likely to make an error than e-filers. Whether you choose to file online or mail in your return, carefully read over all of your forms prior to filing to ensure you haven’t made one of these eight frequent errors the IRS warns against. You also can check out the IRS’s more comprehensive checklist of preparation errors.

Including those from the IRS, here are 10 common mistakes people make when filing their taxes.

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