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Filing a Clean Tax Return: A Checklist

» Introduction
As you complete your tax forms, cross-reference the allowable deductions and credits you’re allowed with a pre-made list that includes the deductions and credits you believe you’re entitled to. That way you have a back-up system and reduce your chance of missing out on a money-saver. Use a good, dependable calculator to tally all your numbers and always double-check every number you intend to include on your taxes
» Step 1
Signature – Did you sign the return? Yes, it seems like an obvious point. But the IRS says unsigned tax returns are one of the most common taxpayer miscues.
» Step 2
Filing status – The wrong tax category could cost you plenty in deductions and credits. Also, make sure you only check off one filing status category. Listing more than one could get your return disallowed.

» Step 3
Social Security number – Another area where many taxpayers can go awry. Without your Social Security number – or with the wrong one included – the IRS won’t process your return. Also, add your social security number to each page of your tax return so that if a page is lost momentarily, the IRS can reattach it.

» Step 4
Allowable exemptions – Make sure you include the right number of exemptions on your tax form. Make sure you check off your standard exemptions. That’s one deduction you don’t want to miss.
» Step 5
Tax Forms – If you’re adding additional IRS forms to your 1040 or 1040A, make sure they are included in the correct order. Again, it might appear to be a minor point. But delivering the forms in sequential order makes it easier for IRS staffers to read – and much easier for you to get the deductions you have coming without mistakes being made.
» Step 6
If You Owe – Many Americans who owe Uncle Sam make their checks payable to the Internal Revenue Service. Actually, checks should be made payable to the United States Treasury. Also, include as much information on your check as possible, including: name, address, phone number, e-mail address, and Social Security Number. Don’t staple the check to your return. Administratively, they’re handled separately when the IRS gets them. Also note that, if you’re married, both spouses have to sign the check.
» Step 7
Be Exact – When the IRS sees a tax return with numbers that are all rounded off as opposed to accurately presented (ex: $10,000 vs. $9,998.57) it’s a big red flag that the taxpayer is estimating the numbers and thus increases your chance for an audit.
» Step 8
Maintain Good Records – Good document management is vital around tax time. So make sure to hang on to copies of all tax documents you used in preparing your return.

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