Tax Return Review Hints
Prior to e-filing or mailing your tax return, you will want to spend some time reviewing your information for accuracy. Here are some tips.
Prior to e-filing your tax return, you will want to check it for accuracy. Outlined here is a checklist of things to review on your tax return.
- Confirm the basics for you, your spouse and your dependents:
Name, address, Social Security Numbers and proper identification of dependents that are under age 17
- Double check filing status
- Confirm your income amount. Start with line 22 total income. Does the amount seem reasonable? Next look at the individual areas that make up your income. Compare wages, interest, and investment income with your tax forms.
Adjusted Gross Income
Most tax returns will not have many lines entered in this area, but some might need special attention:
- Educators: look for your classroom expense deduction
- Self-employed: look for your deductible self-employment tax
- Contributors: check your HSA contributions and retirement plan contributions
- Students: check for tuition and fee deduction and possible student loan interest
- Divorced: check for accuracy in any alimony
Taxes and Credits
- Deductions: Mentally note whether you are taking the standard or itemized deduction approach. If standard: do the math. If itemized: review your Schedule A for accuracy.
- Exemptions: Take each exemption times $4,000. If lower than this, your exemptions may be subject to phase-out rules. If so, review the statement that calculates the phase-out.
- Review the credits. Spend some time reviewing any other activity in this area of the 1040. If you see areas of entered credits, ensure you have a general understanding of what they are and why you qualify for them.
- Line 61. Make sure the box is checked here. This shows you have qualified health insurance for the entire year. If not checked, understand why it is not and know the amount of the penalty you must pay.
Any other entries in this section should be understandable. If in doubt, ask for clarification.
The Balance of the 1040
- Confirm the accuracy of your withholding amounts, any estimated tax payments, and any refund carryovers.
- If self-employed, double check the self-employment tax calculated here.
- If taking the Earned Income Tax Credit, ensure a properly filled out EIC schedule is included with your tax return.
- Review and confirm any other entries on the balance of the tax form
- If due a refund, ensure your instructions are properly documented on your tax form
Important: If asking for a direct deposit of your refund, double check the account number. Errors in this area are hard to correct once your tax return is processed.
- Sign your tax return or your e-file approval and send the form to the correct address. Without a signature, your e-file cannot be submitted and your tax return is not deemed to be filed.
Other Forms and Schedules
Review the supporting schedules. Pay special attention to any missing schedules and new ones required for this year’s tax filings. As a final suggestion, pull out last year’s tax return and compare it with this year’s filing. Focus your questions and review on the areas with significant differences.