Skip To Content

    10 Tax-Filing Mistakes You Should Know About — From People Who Have Made Them

    The federal deadline is May 17 this year, but check your state's due date to avoid paying penalties.

    We hope you love the products and services we recommend! All of them were independently selected by our editors. Just so you know, BuzzFeed may collect a share of sales or other compensation from the links on this page. Oh, and FYI, prices and rates are accurate as of time of publication.

    Filing your taxes is one of those things you just (hopefully) get better at with experience. It's also one of those things you can only understand by actually going through the process for yourself. Sometimes, though, mistakes get made and while some end up being more expensive than others, you learn what to do differently for next year.

    So thanks to the BuzzFeed Community and Reddit, we've rounded up some tax mistakes people have made — so you can avoid them as well. Here's what we found:

    1. Not staying as organized as possible before beginning the tax filing process.

    Getting organized before you go to a tax preparer or before you begin e-filing can make the process feel much less stressful. Come January (which is when employers and other companies and entities start sending out your tax forms), start organizing all your papers into a folder. Keep in mind that in some cases, you might have to log into your online account to print any forms with income info for the past year — like if you have a brokerage account. Staying organized means you won't have to delay your tax filing by putting things on pause to go ransack the living room table for missing forms.

    2. Not being extra cautious when filing your taxes by hand (aka, printing the forms online and filling in the figures by hand).

    3. Forgetting to include important income or withholding figures.

    4. Refusing to shell out the cash for a professional to handle a more complicated tax situation.

    Often times, if you have fairly simple tax filing circumstances — like just a W-2 — people say it's fine to save a few bucks and file your taxes on your own. Sites like H&R Block let you do this for free online, and have some resources to walk you through the forms along the way. 

    But if you have a business or side hustle, or have situations where you need to file for deductions or tax credits, it may be worthwhile to get help from a professional. A tax professional may help you figure out if you'll owe more than you thought you would, or if you qualify for credits and exemptions you may not have otherwise known about. There are lots of way to go about finding a professional to help you, but H&R Block actually connects you with one online (the pricing starts at $69 and will also include a fee for your state). If you go this route, you'd just have to submit your documents then review and approve your return. At the end of the day, the choice to get help from a pro is up to you.

    5. Not realizing that you actually need to pay taxes on canceled debt.

    6. Not double-checking for misplaced commas and periods.

    7. And expecting the IRS to correct any errors that sneak by you.

    Everyone (even the IRS) knows that mistakes sometimes happen — it's just important that you try to fix them as soon as they do. If you make a mistake, you may receive a notice about the IRS auditing your tax return with additional details on next steps. But if you don't receive a notice, you can submit EITHER a new tax form with the correct info if the deadline HASN'T passed, or an amended tax return with corrections if the deadline has passed.

    8. Misunderstanding how to properly identify which filing status actually applies to you.

    9. Missing out on tax breaks you might actually qualify for.

    If you're a caregiver to someone who is disabled, you might qualify for a tax waiver on income received from Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services. If you aren't sure if you qualify, you can ask a tax professional to help you figure it out.

    10. And, missing out on deductions you might be able to file.

    There are honestly soooo many deductions available out there — it can be so hard to keep up! Policygenius outlines many of them you might consider looking into when filing your taxes this year. But when it doubt, it never hurts to ask a tax professional what you might qualify for. 

    Do you have any tax filing tips you think other people would find useful? Let us know in the comments below!

    And if this sounds like music to your ears (and bank account), check out more of our personal finance posts.

    Submissions have been edited for length and/or clarity.