Finance Blog

Last-Minute Tax-Filing Tips: 6 Mistakes Every Tax Filer Should Avoid

Written by Eva Rosenberg on April 13, 2011 in Tax  |   2 comments

Last-Minute Tax-Filing Tips: 6 Mistakes Every Tax Filer Should Avoid By Eva Rosenberg, EA I have spent many an April 14 working all night, rushing to finish tax returns for clients who brought their information in at the last minute. Tax professionals aren’t the only…

Last-Minute Tax-Filing Tips: 6 Mistakes Every Tax Filer Should Avoid
By Eva Rosenberg, EA

I have spent many an April 14 working all night, rushing to finish tax returns for clients who brought their information in at the last minute. Tax professionals aren’t the only ones who go through this push—I have seen taxpayers stressing out, too, trying to get their tax returns completed by the deadline.

If tax filers avoided these six mistakes, the process of filing a tax return wouldn’t be so stressful:

Mistake # 1: Rushing to file by April 15
You do not have to file your tax return by April 15—or, in this year’s case, April 18. Six-month extensions are now automatic. You no longer have to make up some lie about why you’re not ready. Simply take a deep breath, relax, and file Form 4868 instead. (Use Form 7004 for estates, trusts, and other forms due on April 18.)

Mistake # 2: Killing yourself to make sure everything is absolutely accurate
While you are expected to file a truthful, accurate tax return, you do not have to beat yourself to death if you cannot get absolutely accurate information. The IRS will not send you to jail if you make a mistake. Find all the accurate details you can about your income and expenses. If you have lost some information that you cannot replace, make an honest effort to reconstruct the information, using reasonable estimates. Too many people put off filing their tax returns because they’re perfectionists—and end up not filing at all.

Mistake # 3: Not using a tax professional when you need one
Unusual things might have happened this year that you don’t know how to express to the IRS. Don’t prepare your tax return yourself. Working with a professional is less expensive than you imagine. And aside from handling the new situation properly, your tax pro will most likely find ways to reduce your overall tax bill. You will also be less likely to be audited. Tax professionals make fewer glaring errors—resulting in fewer audits.

Mistake #4: Not stopping to think and review
Look at your taxes with fresh eyes. Make sure nothing is entered on the wrong line or is incomplete. Are all Social Security numbers correct? Are there credits or deductions you overlooked? How much tax money can you save with an IRA? If you are self-employed, explore other retirement-funding options.

Mistake #5: Not asking questions
Don’t be afraid to look foolish. There are lots of places where you can get answers to your tax questions. If the IRS website or the IRS help line doesn’t suffice, ask your question here—or at www.taxmama.com.

Mistake #6: Not triple-checking your bank account numbers for direct deposit
The IRS is responsible for depositing your refund into the account you tell them to use. If you transpose a couple of digits, or enter the wrong number, the IRS will deposit your money to the wrong account. It can be a nightmare getting your money back—if you get it back at all.

Preparing a tax return is not easy. But it doesn’t need to be agonizing, either. Once you get into it, it can actually be fun. So play detective and find the best tax breaks you can—and don’t pay any more tax than you are legally obligated to pay.

Eva Rosenberg, EA is the publisher of TaxMama.com, where your tax questions are answered. Eva is the author of several books and ebooks, including Small Business Taxes Made Easy. Eva teaches a tax pro course at IRSExams.com.

Read More:

Itemized Deduction, AMT, and Other Tax Nightmares
Do I Get a Deduction for My Gifts? Or Do I Get Punished for Being Generous?
Estate Tax Tips: A Choice for 2010
Free Tax Services: Do You Qualify?
6 Things You Can Do All Year Long to Save Money on Your Tax Bill


  1. Allison says:

    I am glad to know that the IRS will not send me to jail for making a mistake! This is literally my biggest fear about tax time. I would never cheat on purpose, but I always feel like I am missing something that is going to cause me to get audited and/or thrown in jail. The IRS scares me…

  2. james says:

    I filed my taxes and received a refund, however I was unemployed last year, received severence and had to pay the money back. The state sent me a 1099 even though I paid the money back therefore I had to file a 1040X. Will this trigger an audit by the IRS, the 1040X reduced my refund because of some educational deductions I took that lowered by refund.

Leave a Comment

Name :

Commenting guidelines

We welcome your interest and participation on this forum, but be aware that comments will be published at Equifax's sole discretion. Please don't use this blog to submit questions or concerns about your Equifax credit report or raise customer service issues. Instead, you should contact Equifax directly for all such matters and any attempts to do so in this forum will be promptly re-directed.

Some other factors to consider when commenting:
  1. Registration and privacy. While no registration is required to visit our forum, participants wishing to post a message must register by creating an account. All personal information provided by forum members incident to registration is governed by our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.
  2. All comments are anonymous. We'll delete your name, e-mail address, and any other identifying information, including details about your investments.
  3. We can't post or respond to every comment - As much as we'd like to, we can't post every comment, nor can we guarantee that we will respond to each individual message. All questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or similar customer service issues should be handled by contacting Equifax directly.
  4. Don't offer specific legal, tax or financial advice. All of the materials on this Site are for information, education, and noncommercial purposes only and this forum is not intended as a means of expressing views or ideas regarding any specific legal, tax, or investment advice. While offering general rules of thumb is both permitted and encouraged, recommending specific ideas or strategies regarding investments, taxes, and related matters is prohibited.
  5. Credit Repair. This blog is not intended as a venue for the discussion or exchange of ideas regarding credit repair or other strategies intended to assist visitors and community members improve or otherwise modify their credit histories, ratings or scores.
  6. Stay on topic. Your comment should be concise and pertain to the specific post in question.
  7. Be respectful of the community. The use of profanity, offensive language, spam, and personal attacks will not be tolerated and egregious or repeat offenders will be banned from future participation. We encourage disagreement and healthy debate, but please refrain from personal attacks on our WordPresss and contributors.
  8. Finally: Participation in this forum may be terminated by Equifax immediately and without notice for failure to comply with any guidelines or Terms of Use. As such, you should familiarize yourself with all pertinent requirements prior to submitting any response through the blog or otherwise. All opinions expressed in this forum are solely those of the individual submitting the comment, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.

Equifax maintains this interactive forum for education and information purposes in order to allow individuals to share their relevant knowledge and opinions with other members and visitors. We encourage you to participate in discussions about personal finance issues and other topics of interest to this community, but please read our commenting guidelines first. Equifax reserves the right to monitor postings to the forum and comments will be published at our discretion. Do you have questions or comments about your Equifax credit report or customer-service issues regarding an Equifax product? If so, please contact Equifax directly. All opinions and information expressed or shared in blog comments are solely those of the person submitting the comments, and don't necessarily represent the views of Equifax or its management.

Tax Archive

Stay Informed Sign up for our FREE Equifax email Newsletter