Every year, Americans have to file a tax return. In some cases, tax returns are relatively straightforward. You just fill in your income and the amount you’ve paid, then either receive a tax return or, in many cases, pay in any taxes that you owe.
Sometimes, however, your tax return may prove more complex. If you work as a freelancer or small business owner, recently purchased a home, or have income from multiple sources, you may be left with a lot of paperwork to fill out come tax time. Worse, many people use tax preparation options like H&R Block or Liberty Tax, both of which often rush through the tax preparation process and may miss vital information or make mistakes.
What happens if you make a mistake on your taxes?
1. Contact a professional tax attorney as soon as possible.
Once you identify an error, make sure you have a professional on your side. A tax attorney can help show that the error was simply a mistake, not a deliberate act to avoid paying taxes. Not only that, an experienced tax attorney can help lead you through the entire process.
2. Correct the return with the IRS.
You will need to file an amended tax return with the IRS in order to rectify your error. Once you file, it will correct the error and put you back in good standing. If you do need to file a corrected return, it can slow down the processing of a tax refund, since you will need to wait for the amended return.
3. Pay any fees or penalties.
In some cases, you may have fees or penalties associated with your error, especially if you received additional funds in your tax refund. Talk to a tax attorney about those fees, what you will need to pay, and how to correct that error as soon as possible. The sooner you can correct the problem, the easier it will be to manage any future concerns. If you need to make a large payment, you may need to make payment arrangements with the IRS in order to discharge that debt over time. A tax attorney can help you understand your payment options.
4. Have your taxes prepared by a professional in the future.
Instead of relying on do-it-yourself tax preparation software or trying to file your taxes on your own, plan to have your taxes prepared by a professional. A professional can help identify any potential errors in your taxes, avoid common mistakes, and, in many cases, identify deductions. Using a professional to file your taxes can also help if you ever do get audited.
Most of the time, a simple error on your taxes will result in fines and penalties, not a stay in jail. You should still, however, take steps to protect yourself as much as possible any time you notice a potential error on your taxes. Make sure you understand tax law as it applies to you both personally and professionally in order to prevent potential errors.