Most Common Errors

Avoid the hassle of an audit by avoiding the usual pitfalls.

The risk with even simple mistakes is an extended delay in resolving your tax burden while corrections are made. In the worst-case scenario, you may even be subject to an audit. So take the time to look for these common errors, even if you have hired a professional to prepare your taxes.

The Fine Print

Most of the mistakes in tax forms are actually basic errors. Someone might be a digit off when entering a Social Security number or misspell a name. Be on the lookout for these kinds of typographical errors. A helpful way to make sure they’re right to read the information out loud. Your ear will hear the mistake. Contact the Social Security Administration if a name has changed since the last filing, usually following a marriage or divorce. Submitting the new name may be technically correct, but it won’t match the information on file.


Filing electronically streamlines the process. It’s faster than standard mail and professional service providers can transmit your information securely over the internet. Still, the tendency may be to rush through the process since that’s how we typically lead our online lives, anyway. Many of these programs include accuracy-check features that will alert taxpayers to potential errors. Pay close attention to any warnings and remember to check (and double-check) your information, just as you would with an old-fashioned paper return.

What to Do

If you discover an error after you’ve filed, don’t panic. You can amend your tax return, typically by filing IRS Form 1040X. Note changes in deductions, credit or income on the form and resubmit as soon as possible. It’s not necessary to complete an entirely new tax return. The 1040X form only requires updates to the numbers that have changed.


Specific information is required with payment, and confusion follows if any of it is wrong.

Paying electronically when filing ensures that your information matches and that the bill ends up in the correct hands. If you choose to pay by money order or check, however, remember to make funds payable to the U.S. Treasury, and note the tax form and tax year of payment.

Include your name, address and Social Security number, along with a daytime phone number. If any of these things is missing, or incorrect, your payment may be delayed or lost.


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