Tax season is in full swing and, by now, Ohio residents have likely finished their taxes or at least made decisions about whether or not they plan to hire someone else to do their taxes. Whether an individual plans to complete and file their own taxes or turn to an independent or professional tax preparer, it's wise to take steps to avoid common tax errors.
When it comes to tax preparation and filing, think of the IRS like a strict teacher or professor. Not only is the agency unforgiving of those taxpayers who make errors, but such mistakes are also likely to result in penalties in the form of fines and, in some cases, even criminal charges.
Some of the most common tax mistakes involve those related to addition, subtraction and form errors like forgetting to complete or sign a form or entering data in the incorrect spot. In most cases, these types of mistakes aren't a huge deal, but they still may result in fines or the delay of an expected tax return.
When it comes to tax errors, individuals who hire a professional tax preparer likely believe they are exempt. However, in a study conducted by the Government Accountability Office, less than 11 percent of surveyed preparers made no mistakes and accurately calculated the "correct refund amount." In fact, the GAO estimates that the error rate of professional tax preparers is roughly 60 percent, whereas the error rate of taxpayers who opt to prepare their own returns is 50 percent.
Based on the results of this study, it appears that it may not always be wise or advantageous to turn to a so-called tax pro to handle your return or irs problems. Regardless of whether an individual plans to prepare their own taxes or turn to a professional, it's important to closely review all tax forms and ensure everything is accurate and complete. After all, regardless of who prepared a tax form, the taxpayer whose name is on the form will ultimately be held responsible.
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Source: U.S. News & World Report, "What Tax Experts Tell You Not to Do On Your Taxes," Geoff Williams, March 20, 2015