GREENVILLE — People normally see April as a time of warmer temperatures, blooming flowers, spring cleaning, and more opportunities to get out and about.
For those attempting to do their taxes, however, April can also be a time of anxiety, confusion and even dread.
With less than three weeks remaining until federal income tax returns are due to be filed with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), it’s time for tax procrastinators to get things in order. Unfortunately, those doing the “at the last minute” rush often make mistakes.
Raimi Overman, manager of Liberty Tax Service in Greenville, Ohio, says her office often sees tax filers commit easily fixable errors.
Overman says the most common mistake she sees is taxpayers who have switched addresses but have not informed their current or former employers, meaning they don’t receive their W-2’s in a timely fashion, or at all. This holds up the process.
“Even if they don’t work [at a business] any longer, they should call and get that information updated,” she said.
Another mistake she sees taxpayers make is not exploring exemptions for which they may be eligible.
“People don’t always realize they can get them if they qualify,” she explained.
Other common errors include “math mistakes” such as entering inaccurate data such as incorrect Social Security numbers or wrong earnings; filing status mistakes, such as claiming “single” versus “head of household” when the latter may earn the taxpayer a larger deduction; newlyweds or divorcees forgetting to notify Social Security regarding name changes; not claiming all earned income; missing deductions or tax credits; falling for “tax scams” perpetrated by criminals; and forgetting to sign and date forms.
Another challenge for tax filers this year is changes in the Affordable Care Act, popularly called “Obamacare.”
“This is the most dramatic change from last year to this year,” said Overman. “This year’s penalty for an individual without health insurance is $325, or 2 percent of income, whichever is higher. Next year the penalty for individuals goes up to $695, or 2.5 percent.”
And it isn’t just IRS changes that can cause problems, with taxpayers also facing a jumble of state and city tax issues from year to year.
“Each city has its own income tax regulations,” Overman said. “It makes the process more complicated and confusing.”
For those having difficulty with their income tax returns, whether those returns be federal, state or local, Overman recommends not waiting until the last minute, but to seek help.
“It’s best to bring it to a tax professional, whether it is here at Liberty Tax, or another service,” she advised. “Even those who do their own taxes may not be confident, so a tax professional can provide a good way to double check.”
She added, “If you do make a mistake, remember you can make amendments to your return. Don’t wait for the IRS to contact you.”
The writer may be reached at 937-569-4314. Join the conversation and get updates on Facebook search Darke County Sports or Advocate 360. For more features online go to dailyadvocate.com.