When people come to work with us to do their tax return for the first time, there is often a palpable sense of relief. This isn’t necessarily because they couldn’t file their taxes themselves, many of them have been for years, but I think there is a sense of comfort that comes from working with someone whose knowledge you trust. Part of that is a sense that knowing that things were done right.
In this space, we often talk about bigger issues, what you can do for deductions, what counts as income, etc., and many of those things do get into the depths of tax law where a more nuanced level of knowledge can be key. Knowing that things were done right often involves a lot of the simpler things, though. I think this is highlighted by a recent list released by the IRS of “Common Errors Taxpayers Should Avoid.”
This starts with such simple mistakes as not putting in a Social Security number or entering one incorrectly. This sounds like one of those things that you would read quickly and respond with how you’d never do something so silly, but the entries on this list are there because enough people were silly enough to do it.
Another of those silly things is spelling your name wrong. Of course you know how to spell your name, it’s not like it’s secret knowledge, But let’s say you’re using some tax software, transpose two letters, and then read over it when giving that cursory look over your information at the end. It’s simpler to do than it feels on first read.
For those who are still going at it by hand, there are easy-to-make math mistakes (I mean we’re not talking about only numbers from zero to 10 here). For those who are using software, we then get back to those issues of deductions and income. Did you enter everything that you are obligated to include in the return? Are you sure the program put them in the right place?
I don’t think that anyone really goes into filing their taxes thinking the system is ‘simple’. Again, just look at the numbers. Even if you are a single person who receives one W2, those wacky standard deduction numbers show that someone somewhere put a great deal of thought into this anyway. And those who really know that their return is nowhere near simple are probably already using help to make sure that their return is done correctly.
I do think, however, that many people believe the system is ‘simple enough.’ They don’t want to pay what they envision as exorbitant fees to have someone file their tax return when they believe they can do it just as well themselves. This is a warning for that group. And it is only a warning because I am not saying it is impossible to do it correctly. I am, however, saying there are enough pitfalls that you want to be wary and that there is value in the peace of mind you receive by absolutely knowing that things have been handled correctly.
And if you want to receive that, please set up an appointment and let us give it to you.
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