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March 08, 2017 | Star 99.1 Staff
Income taxes. Yes, those words make me groan a little, too.
Just a few days ago, I received a notice in the mail from New Jersey's Department of Taxation. Hmmm... What could this be? A looking-forward-to-hearing-from-you-this-year greeting? Or a thank you note for my years of being a loyal tax payer? It certainly wasn't going to be a refund, I was sure of that.
It was a notice of underpayment. Ouch. My math was fine. (The tax software's math, actually.) But after pouring over W-2's, bank statements, and other info looking for the problem, I finally realized I had inserted the wrong number under wages because the state and federal amounts were different. I caught this other years, but for some reason I did not in 2013. Yes, 2013. So in addition to the underpayment amount, three years of interest was tacked on to the total owed.
My purpose in telling you this goes beyond the opportunity for me to vent. Maybe this little discussion will help you avoid a similar fate this tax season. My burden has been lifted somewhat because I began using the services of a tax preparer last year. But it's still my responsibility to bring her the correct information she needs to prepare my return.
The IRS says returns are often flagged for the most simple of reasons. They list eight common tax-filing errors:
Wrong or missing Social Security numbers. Be sure you enter all SSNs on your tax return exactly as they are on the Social Security cards.
And a few from me:
If you want to see a more detailed check list that might make your head spin a little, here's an IRS.gov link:
I was a little relieved that the state tax return mistake was mine, instead of some colossal, complex confusion on the part of the New Jersey Division of Taxation. Just the thought of grappling with bureaucracy left me in a cold sweat. Although if anyone from the Division is reading this, well, I'm sure it would have been a charming experience.