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Avoiding Last-Minute Errors

The April 17 deadline may be just hours away, but some Americans still haven’t even rounded up their W2s.

Acknowledging the tax procrastination is a national pastime, the Internal Revenue Service issued some tips and a series of videos to help last-minute filers avoid the common blunders that could delay their returns. Here is a look at the most common errors:

Misspelled name. Seems basic but tax returns will not be accepted if your name is not entered as it is appears on your Social Security card, or if the Social Security number is incorrect.

Incorrect filing status. Make sure you choose the right status between single, married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household and widow or widower with dependent child. Married taxpayers most often file jointly, but are sometimes better off filing separately.

Bad math. Double check your math on the forms and make sure you enter information in the right section. Filing electronically with online tax software  might help you catch some of the errors.

Wrong address. Those who are sticking with paper forms should be sure they’re sending the documents to the appropriate address. The IRS offers a list of where to file paper tax returns.

Unsigned returns. Don’t forget that both spouses need to sign and date the return if they are filing jointly. E-filers can request a personal identification number at

Missing forms. In addition to your W2, make sure to include all the schedules and forms in order (according to the sequence number in the upper right hand corner of each form). Those requesting a payment agreement also have to attach Form 9645.  Whether you ship your return electronically or through the mail you should keep a copy for your personal records.

Not asking for more time. If you need more time to get your paperwork in order, you can request a six month extension by filing Form 4868 electronically or by paper. Getting the extension will help you avoid late filing penalties, but payments are still due by April 17. So if you owe, consider paying by debit card or credit card. 


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About The Tax Blog

  • The Tax Blog brings together a team of award-winning tax journalists from the Dow Jones network and around the web to examine the tax issues, changes and legislation that affect families, investors and small business owners. Our contributors include Tax Report columnist Laura Saunders (WSJ), Tax Guy columnist Bill Bischoff and senior reporter Jilian Mincer (, retirement-focused reporter Anne Tergesen (WSJ), wealth management writer Arden Dale (Dow Jones Newswires), TaxWatch columnist Eva Rosenberg and personal finance reporter Andrea Coombes (MarketWatch), and reporter Alyssa Abkowitz (SmartMoney). They’ll provide the latest news and insight, mine the tax code for tips and loopholes, and answer your questions about tricky tax situations. Contact the The Tax Blog with ideas, suggestions or tax questions at