How to Avoid Common Mistakes
Mistakes may delay your refund or result in notices being sent to you.
- 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 under age 17 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 33.
- 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 2001 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 occupation.
- 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 53.
- 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 70 on page 52 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 (a) there is an under-statement of tax because your spouse omitted income or claimed false deductions or credits, (b) you are divorced, separated, or no longer living with your spouse, or (c) 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 2002
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 2002 pay. For details on how to complete Form W-4, see Pub 919 or visit the IRS Web Site at www.irs.gov/prod/ind_info/webw4/index.html. In general, you do not have to make estimated tax payments if you expect that your 2002 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 2002 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 Pub. 505.
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 1-800-772-1213.
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 52 for details on how to pay any tax you owe.
If you itemize your deductions for 2002, 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 2001, 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 2001 and you did not remarry in 2001, you can file a joint return. You can also file a joint return if your spouse died in 2002 before filing a return for 2001. A joint return should show your spouse’s 2001 income before death and your income for all of 2001. 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
Delete the Paperwork. Hit SEND
So easy, no wonder 40 million people use it! You can file electronically, sign electronically, and get your refund or even pay electronically. IRS e-file offers accurate, safe, and fast alternatives to filing on paper. IRS computers quickly and automatically check for errors or other missing information. This year, almost all forms and schedules can be e-filed. Even returns with a foreign address can be e-filed! The chance of an audit of an e-filed tax return is no greater than with a paper filed return. Forty million taxpayers just like you filed their tax returns electronically using an IRS e-file option because of the many benefits:
- Electronic Signatures!
- Proof of Acceptance!
- Fast Refunds!
- FREE/Low-Cost Filing!
- Electronic Payment Options!
- Federal/State e-file!
Use an Authorized IRS e-file Provider. Many tax professionals can electronically file paperless returns for their clients. As a taxpayer, you have two options: 1. You can prepare your return, take it to a tax professional, ask to sign it electronically using a five-digit self-selected Personal Identification Number (PIN) and then have the tax professional transmit it electronically to the IRS, or 2. You can have a tax professional prepare your return, you can sign it electronically using a five-digit self-selected PIN, and have your preparer transmit it for you electronically.
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 at http://www.irs.gov for an "Authorized IRS e-file Provider" near you.
Use Your Personal Computer. A computer with a modem and/or Internet access is all you need to file your tax return using IRS e-file. You can buy tax preparation software at various electronics stores or computer and office supply stores. You can download software from the Internet or prepare and file your return completely on-line by using a tax preparation software package on the Internet (nothing to buy or install). Best of all, you can e-file your tax return from the comfort of your home any time of the day or night. Sign your return electronically using a five-digit self-selected PIN to complete the process. There is no signature form to submit or Forms W-2 to send in. IRS e-file is totally paperless! Within 48 hours of filing, you will receive confirmation that the IRS has received your return. To find free and low-cost e-file opportunities for taxpayers who qualify or a list of all software companies that participate in the IRS e-file program, visit
our Web Site at http://www.irs.gov. Once your return is prepared, you will need a modem and/or Internet access to file it electronically.
Use a Telephone. For millions of eligible taxpayers, TeleFile is the easiest way to file. TeleFile allows you to file your simple Federal income tax return using a touch-tone telephone. Only taxpayers who met the qualifications for Form 1040EZ in the prior year are eligible to receive the TeleFile Tax Package for the current year. A TeleFile Tax Package is automatically mailed to you if you are eligible. Parents: If your children receive a TeleFile Tax Package, please encourage them to use TeleFile.
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 at many libraries, colleges, universities, shopping malls, and retirement and senior centers. Find the closest VITA or TCE site by calling 1-800-829-1040. Remember to take your spouse’s, your dependent’s, and your own social security cards and other identifying documents. Ask for IRS e-file at these sites.
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 are prompted by the tax preparation software to indicate on the refund portion of the electronic return the financial institution’s routing number, account number, and type of account—either checking or savings. Taxpayers who file electronically receive their refunds in less than half the time paper filers do and with Direct Deposit—in as few as 10 days!
Electronic Signatures! Paperless filing is easier than you think and it’s available to most taxpayers who file electronically—including those first-time filers who were 16 or older on December 31, 2001. It’s available to individuals preparing their own returns using tax preparation software or those who use a tax professional. Regardless of the e-filing method you choose, you may be able to participate in the Self-Select PIN program. If you are married filing a joint return, you and your spouse will each need to create a PIN and enter it as your electronic signature.
If using tax preparation software, the process includes completing your income tax return on your personal computer and when prompted, signing electronically. You will enter a five-digit PIN that will serve as your electronic signature.
For more details on qualifications and required taxpayer information for the Self-Select PIN or on IRS e-file, please visit the IRS Web Site at http://www.irs/gov.
Forms 8453 and 8453-OL. Your return is not complete without your signature. If you are not eligible or choose not to participate in the Self-Select PIN program for signing your return electronically, you must complete and sign Form 8453 or Form 8453-OL, whichever applies.
Electronic Payment Options! If you owe tax, you can make your payment electronically.
Electronic Funds Withdrawal. You can e-file and pay in a single step by authorizing an electronic funds withdrawal from your checking or savings account. This option is available using tax software packages, tax professionals, and TeleFile.
Credit Card. You can also e-file and pay in a single step by authorizing a credit card payment. This option is available through some tax preparation software packages and tax professionals. Two other ways to pay by credit card are by telephone or Internet (see Amount You Owe on page 52 for details). Service providers charge a convenience fee for credit card payments.
Federal/State e-file! 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 income tax return to the state income tax return as the information is entered. Currently, 37 states and the District of Columbia participate in the Federal/State e-file program. To see a complete list of states, check the IRS Web Site at www.irs.gov.
Delete the Paperwork. Hit SEND
All tax returns prepared electronically should be filed electronically. It’s just a matter of clicking Send instead of Print! Remember! You get automatic confirmation within 48 hours that the IRS received your e-filed income tax return for processing.
IRS E-FILE Is Also Available! IRS for Business e-file for Business is an electronic method to file business returns. For details, visit the IRS Web Site at http://www.irs.gov
Electronic Federal Tax Payment System offers another way to pay your Federal taxes. It’s available to business and individual taxpayers. For details, visit http://www.EFTPS.gov or call EFTPS Customer Service at 1-800-555-4477 or 1-800-945-8400.0.
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 http://www.aarp.org/taxaide tax aide or call 1-877-227-7844.
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
Note. 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 4. Please do not include interest or penalties (other than the estimated tax penalty) in the amount you owe on Line 70.
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 smaller.
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.
Previous | First | Next
Form 1040 Instructions Main | 2001 Tax Year Archives | Tax Help Archives Main | Home