How to Avoid Common Mistakes
Mistakes may delay your refund or result in notices being sent
- Make sure you entered the correct name and SSN for each
dependent you claim on line 6c. Also, make sure you check the box in
column (4) of line 6c for each dependent who is also a qualifying child for the
child tax credit.
- Check your math, especially for the child tax credit, earned
income credit, taxable social security benefits, total income, itemized
deductions or standard deduction, deduction for exemptions, taxable income,
total tax, Federal income tax withheld, and refund or money you owe.
- Be sure you use the correct method to figure your tax.
See the instructions for line 40 that begin on page 32.
- Be sure to enter your social security number (SSN) in the
space provided on page 1 of Form 1040. If you are married filing a joint
or separate return, also enter your spouse's SSN. Be sure to enter your
SSN in the space next to your name.
- Make sure your name and address are correct on the peel-off
label. If not, enter the correct information. If you did not get a
peel-off label, enter your (and your spouse's) name in the same order as shown
on your last return.
- If you are taking the standard deduction and you checked any
box on line 35a or you (or your spouse if filing jointly) can be claimed as a
dependent on someone else's 2000 return, see page 31 to be sure you entered the
correct amount on line 36.
- If you received capital gain distributions but were not
required to file Schedule D, make sure you check the box on line 13.
- Remember to sign and date Form 1040 and enter your
- Attach your W-2 form(s) and other required forms and
schedules. Put all forms and schedules in the proper order. See
Assemble Your Return on page 52.
- If you owe tax and are paying by check or money order, be
sure to include all the required information on your payment. See the
instructions for line 69 on page 51 for details.
What Are Your Rights
as a Taxpayer?
You have the right to be treated fairly, professionally, promptly, and courteously by IRS employees. Our goal at the IRS is to protect your rights so that you will have the highest confidence in the integrity, efficiency,
and fairness of our tax system. To ensure that you always receive such treatment, you should know about the many rights you have at each step of the tax process. For details,
see Pub. 1.
Innocent Spouse Relief
You may qualify for relief from liability for tax on a joint return if (1) there is an under-statement of tax because your spouse omitted income or claimed false deductions or credits, (2) you are divorced, separated, or no longer living with your spouse, or (3) given all the facts and circumstances, it would be unfair to hold you liable for the tax. See Form 8857 or Pub. 971 for more details.
Income Tax Withholding and Estimated Tax Payments for 2001
If the amount you owe or the amount you overpaid is large, you may want to file a
new Form W-4 with your employer to change the amount of income tax withheld from your
2001 pay. In general, you do not have to make estimated tax payments if you expect that
your 2001 Form 1040 will show a tax refund or a tax balance due the IRS of less than
$1,000. If your total estimated tax (including any household employment taxes
or alternative minimum tax) for 2001 is $1,000 or more, see
Form 1040-ES. It has a worksheet you can
use to see if you have to make estimated tax payments. For more details, see
Do Both the Name and
SSN on Your Tax Forms Agree With Your Social Security Card?
If not, certain deductions and credits may be reduced or disallowed, your refund may be delayed or you may not receive credit for your social security earnings. If your Form W-2, Form 1099, or other tax document shows an incorrect SSN or name, notify your employer or the
form-issuing agent as soon as possible to make sure your earnings are credited to your social security record. If the name or SSN on your social security card is incorrect, call the Social Security Administration at
How Do You Make a Gift To Reduce the Public Debt?
If you wish to do so, make a check payable to “Bureau of the Public Debt.” You can send it to: Bureau of the Public Debt, Department
G, P.O. Box 2188, Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188. Or, you can enclose the check with your income tax return when you file. Do not add your gift to any tax you may owe. See page 51 for details on how to pay any tax you owe.
If you itemize your deductions for 2001, you may be able to deduct this gift.
If you move after you file, always notify the IRS in writing of your new address.
To do so, you can use Form 8822.
How Long Should Records Be Kept?
Keep a copy of your tax return, worksheets you used, and records of all items appearing on it (such as W-2 and 1099 forms) until
the statute of limitations runs out for that return. Usually, this is 3 years from the date the return was due or filed, or 2 years from
the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. You should keep some records longer. For example, keep property records (including those on your home) as long as they are needed to figure the basis of the original or
replacement property. For more details, see Pub. 552.
File Form 1040X to change a return you already filed. Generally, Form 1040X must be filed within 3 years after the date the original return was filed, or within 2 years after the date the tax was paid, whichever is
later. But you may have more time to file Form 1040X if you are physically or mentally unable to manage your financial affairs. See Pub. 556 for details.
Need a Copy of Your Tax Return?
If you need a copy of your tax return, use Form 4506. If you have questions about
your account, call or write your local IRS office. If you want a printed copy of your account, it will be mailed to you free of charge.
Death of a Taxpayer
If a taxpayer died before filing a return for 2000, the taxpayer’s spouse or personal representative may have to file and sign a return
for that taxpayer. A personal representative can be an executor, administrator, or anyone who is in charge of the deceased taxpayer’s
property. If the deceased taxpayer did not have to file a return but had tax withheld, a return must be filed to get a refund. The person who files the return should enter “DECEASED,” the deceased taxpayer’s name, and the date of death across the top of the return.
If your spouse died in 2000 and you did not remarry in 2000, you can file a joint
return. You can also file a joint return if your spouse died in 2001 before filing a 2000 return. A joint return should show your
spouse’s 2000 income before death and your income for all of 2000. Enter “Filing as surviving spouse” in the area where you sign the return. If someone else is the personal representative, he or she must also sign.
The surviving spouse or personal representative should promptly notify all payers of income, including financial institutions, of the taxpayer’s death. This will ensure the proper reporting of income earned by the taxpayer’s estate or heirs. A deceased taxpayer’s social security number should not be used for tax years after the year of death, except for estate tax return purposes.
Claiming a Refund for a Deceased Taxpayer
If you are filing a joint return as a surviving spouse, you only need to file the tax return
to claim the refund. If you are a court-appointed representative, file the return and attach a copy of the certificate that shows your appointment.
All other filers requesting the deceased taxpayer’s refund must file the return and attach Form 1310.
For more details, use Tele-Tax Topic 356 or see Pub. 559.
Explore IRS e-file!
Fast Refunds, Secure, Accurate
Join the 40 million taxpayers who e-file! You can file and get your refund or even
pay electronically. IRS e-file
offers fast, safe, accurate, and easy alternatives to traditional paper
returns. There is a quick and automatic IRS computer check for errors or
other missing information upon receipt of the tax return infornation. This
year, more forms and schedules can be e-filed-even those with a foreign address!
The chance of an audit of an e-filed tax return is no greater than a paper tax
return. Millions of taxpayers just like you filed their tax returns
electronically using an IRS e-file option because of the many benefits:
- FREE Filing!
- Fast Refunds!
- New Paperless Filing!
- Proof of Acceptance!
- Electronic Payments!
- File Federal and State Tax Returns Together!
Here's How You Can Participate in IRS e-file
Use an Authorized IRS e-file Provider. Many tax
professionals file tax returns electronically for their clients. Ask for IRS e-file!
You can prepare your own return and have a professional electronically transmit it to
the IRS or you can have your return prepared and transmitted
by the tax professional. Depending on the tax professional and the specific services
requested, a fee may be charged. Look for the “Authorized IRS
e-file Provider” sign, or check the IRS Web Site and click
on "Electronic Services" for an "Authorized IRS e-file Provider" near you.
IRS e-file Through Your Personal Computer. You can file
your tax return in a fast, safe, convenient way through your personal computer right
from home. And now it's paperless! Find free filing opportunities at our Web Site,
click on "Electronic Services" and then click on "IRS e-file
Partners." For a list of software companies that participate in the
IRS e-file program, visit our Web Site, click on "Electronic Services"
and then click on "On-Line Filing Software Companies." Depending on
which software program you use to file your taxes, you will need a modem and/or
Internet access. IRS e-file using a personal computer is available 24 hours a day, 7
days a week.
IRS e-file Using a Telephone.
For millions of eligible taxpayers, TeleFile is the easiest way to file. Tele-File
allows you to file your simple Federal tax return using a touch-tone phone.
Only taxpayers who met the qualifications for Form 1040EZ in the prior
year may qualify to use TeleFile for the current year. A TeleFile Tax Package is automatically
mailed to those who qualify. TeleFile is completely paperless - there are
no forms to mail. Just complete the TeleFile Tax Record in the booklet, pick up a telephone,
and call the toll-free number any time day or night. TeleFile usually takes about
10 minutes and it's absolutely FREE. Parents: If your children receive a TeleFile
Tax Package, please encourage them to use TeleFile.
IRS e-file Through Employers and Financial Institutions.
Some businesses offer free e-file to their employees, members, or customers.
Others offer it for a fee. Ask your employer or financial institution if they offer
IRS e-file as an employee, member, or customer benefit.
Visit a VITA or TCE Site. Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites are open to
low-income individuals, others who need help with their tax returns, and the elderly. Both programs are free and can be found in community
locations such as libraries, colleges, universities, shopping malls, and retirement and senior centers.
Find the closest VITA or TCE site by calling 1-800-829-1040. Remmber to
take your, and your spouse's and your dependent's social security card and other
identifying documents. Ask for IRS e-file
at these sites.
More About IRS e-file Benefits
Get a Fast Refund. Choose Direct
Deposit-a fast, simple, safe, secure way to
have your Federal income tax refund deposited
automatically into your checking or savings
account. To choose Direct Deposit,
taxpayers indicate on the refund portion of
the electronic return, the financial institution's
routing number, the account number,
and the type of account-either checking or
savings. Taxpayers who file electronically
and choose Direct Deposit receive their refunds
in less than half the time that paper
Paperless Filing. Paperless filing is available
to most taxpayers who file electroni-cally
using tax preparation software or file
through a tax professional. The process includes
self-selecting a five-digit Personal
Identification Number (PIN) and entering
two pieces of information from your 1999
tax return. If you don't have your 1999
return, call the IRS (see page 13) to get a
free transcript of your account. It may take
7 to 10 days to receive the transcript. Paperless
filing is also available for first-time
filers who were 16 or older on December
31, 2000. There's nothing to sign and nothing
to mail; not even your W-2s.
Electronic Payment Options. If you have
a balance due, you can make your payment
Direct Debit. You can file and pay in a
single step by authorizing a direct debit (automatic
withdrawal) payment from your
checking or savings account. This option is
available through tax software packages, tax
professionals, and TeleFile. If you select the
direct debit payment option, you will be
prompted to enter your account number,
your financial institution's routing number,
and account type (checking or savings). You
can schedule the payment for a future date
up to and including the tax return due date
(April 16, 2001). Check with your financial
institution to make sure that an automatic
withdrawal is allowed and to get the correct
routing and account numbers.
Credit Card. You can also file and pay
in a single step by authorizing a credit card
payment. This option is available through
some tax software packages and tax professionals.
Two other ways to pay by credit
card are by phone or Internet (see page 51,
"Amount You Owe" for details). Service
providers charge a convenience fee for credit
File Federal and State Tax Returns Together.
File Federal and state tax returns
together using e-file and double the benefits
of e-file! The tax preparation software automatically
transfers relevant data from the
Federal return to the state return as the information
is entered. All states that have
income taxes support e-file. Most states
offer the same benefits that IRS e-file offers.
Check the IRS Web Site for a list of companies
that provide state on-line filing software.
Form 1040PC Is History! The IRS no
longer accepts the Form 1040PC format. If
you used Form 1040PC in the past, the IRS
encourages you to file using the fastest, most
accurate way to file-IRS e-file!
Other Ways To Get Help
Send Your Written Questions to the IRS.
You should get an answer in about 30 days. If you do not have the address, call us.
See page 13 for that number. Do not send questions with your return.
Assistance With Your Return.
IRS offices can help you prepare your return. An assister will explain a Form
1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040 with Schedules A and B to you and other taxpayers in a group
setting. You may also be able to file your return electronically by computer free of
charge at some IRS offices. To find the IRS office nearest you, look in the phone book
under “United States Government, Internal Revenue Service” or call us. See page 13
for the number.
VITA and TCE.
These programs help older,disabled, low-income, and non-English-speaking people fill
in their returns. For details, call us. See page 13 for the number. If you received a
Federal income tax package in the mail, take it with you when you go for help. Also
take a copy of your 1999 tax return if you have it. Or to find the nearest AARP
Tax-Aide site, visit AARP’s Internet Web Site at
www.aarp.org/taxaide tax aide or call
On-Line Services. If you subscribe to an on-Line service, ask about on-Line filing or tax information.
Large-Print Forms and Instructions. Pub. 1614 has
large-print copies of Form 1040, Schedules A, B, D, E, EIC, and R, and Form 1040-V,
and their instructions. You can use the large-print forms and schedules as
worksheets to figure your tax, but you cannot file on them. You can get Pub. 1614
by phone or mail. See pages 7 and 57.
Help for People With Disabilities. Telephone help is
available using TTY/TDD equipment. See page 13 for the number. Braille materials are
available at libraries that have special services for people with disabilities.
Interest and Penalties
You do not have to figure the amount of any interest or penalties you
may owe. Because figuring these amounts can be complicated, we will do
it for you if you want. We will send you a bill for any amount due.
If you include interest or penalties (other than the estimated tax penalty) with
your payment, identify and enter the amount in the bottom margin of Form 1040, page 2. Please do not include interest or penalties
(other than the estimated tax penalty) in the amount you owe on Line 69.
We will charge you interest on taxes not paid by their due date, even if an
extension of time to file is granted. We will also charge you interest on penalties
imposed for failure to file, negligence, fraud, substantial valuation misstatements,
and substantial understatements of tax. Interest is charged on the penalty from the
due date of the return (including extensions).
Late Filing. If you do not file your return by the due
date (including extensions), the penalty is usually 5% of the amount due
for each month or part of a month your return is late, unless you have a reasonable
explanation. If you do, attach it to your return. The penalty
can be as much as 25% (more in some cases) of the tax due. If your return is more than 60 days
late, the minimum penalty will be $100 or the amount of any tax you owe, whichever is
Late Payment of Tax. If you pay your taxes late, the
penalty is usually 1/2 of 1% of the unpaid amount for
each month or part of a month the tax is not paid. The penalty can be as bmuch as
25% of the unpaid amount. It applies to any unpaid tax on the return. This
penalty is in addition to interest charges on late payments.
Frivolous Return. In addition to any other penalties, the law imposes a penalty of $500 for filing a frivolous return. A frivolous
return is one that does not contain information needed to figure the correct tax or shows a substantially incorrect tax because you take a
frivolous position or desire to delay or interfere with the tax laws. This includes altering or striking out the preprinted language above the
space where you sign.
Other. Other penalties can be imposed for negligence, substantial understatement of tax, and fraud. Criminal penalties may be imposed for willful failure to file, tax evasion, or making a false statement. See
Pub. 17 for details on some of these penalties.
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