Stay safe, and don't rush to e-file
There’s little chance for error when it comes to e-filing, but being in a rush can be its own mistake.
SAN DIEGO (MainStreet) — So you’ve decided to take the plunge and join the growing number of people e-filing taxes, but you worry about potential mistakes?
As it turns out, there’s little chance for error when it comes to e-filing, industry experts say.
“Before you push that send button, there’s an automatic error check,” says Julie Miller, director of public relations and social media at Intuit’s TurboTax. “E-filing is very easy and very efficient. I don’t think there are any pitfalls.”
TurboTax’s software for instance, checks for such things as an incorrectly entered social security number or other personal information that may have been mistyped as you completed your return.
“We ask you to enter your social security number once again at the end, and if doesn’t match what you entered at the beginning, we flag it,” Miller says.
H&R Block Product Specialist Heather Watts also had trouble thinking of pitfalls associated with e-filing.
The most common mistake people make, Watts says, has nothing at all to do with the fact that they’ve chosen to file a tax return electronically. Instead, it has to do with being overeager.
“E-filing too early is the biggest mistake we see,” Watts says. “Clients get really anxious and a lot of times will file their returns before they have all their financial data available.”
Watts is referring to people who e-file their taxes in early January and sometime after hitting that send button get a 1099 in the mail or some other piece of financial information that should have been included. When that happens, you can’t just sit back down at the computer, add the missing information to your return and e-file again, Watts cautioned.
“A lot of clients try to amend their return before the first e-filed return has been accepted by the IRS,” Watts says. “If you realize you forgot something and you already sent your e-file, you need to let the IRS accept that original return first.”
People who e-file tax returns get notification from the IRS once the return has been accepted.
But what about other more simple or common human errors associated with e-filing — such as accidentally hitting the send button twice and submitting the same return too many times? Or doing something else wrong as you work your way through completing your tax return using tax software?
It’s just not likely, Watts says.
“The way we structure our digital program, it walks you through an interview and it’s pretty sequential, asking about income, deductions and credits” Watts says. “It’s fairly easy. But the computer won’t know what you’re not telling it.”
So the moral of the story? E-filing is simple as long as you are fully prepared, have all your financial data available and answer questions honestly.