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Tax Tip: Before You Mail Your Return

Robert D. Flach

Editor's Note: This article is part of our 2013 Tax Tips series. Robert Flach is an expert with almost 40 years of experience as a tax professional and also blogs as The Wandering Tax Pro.

NEW YORK (MainStreet) —Before you mail your finished tax returns to the IRS and the state it is very important to review them carefully – regardless of who prepared the returns. If your returns are being submitted electronically review hard copies before hitting “send”.

Even if your return was completed by a paid preparer, you are legally responsible for all the information reported on the return. If you discover something you do not understand on a return completed by a paid preparer, contact the preparer immediately. But remember, just because you do not understand something does not mean that there is an error.

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Here is what to do before putting your tax return in the mail:

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  • Double check all Social Security numbers entered on all pages of your returns. An incorrect number will hold up your refund.
  • Sign your return in the proper place. If you are filing a joint tax return with a spouse, both must sign. If your spouse passed away during the year sign on the first line and write “Surviving Spouse” on the line for the spouse’s signature. Special rules apply if you are signing the return for a non-spouse deceased taxpayer or for someone else under a Power of Attorney.
  • If you paid a professional to prepare your returns make sure the preparer signs the return and enters his/her IRS-issued “PTIN.”
  • Attach “Copy B” of all Forms W-2, and W-2Gs and 1099-Rs with federal income tax withheld, to the federal return where indicated. Uncle Sam is very particular and wants Copy B, not Copy C or Copy 2. If you attach the wrong copy the IRS may return the form to you.
  • Mail your return to the correct address. The address is determined by your state of residence. Mailing addresses are listed in the instruction booklet or online at the IRS website. If you have a balance due, you must use a payment voucher (1040-V).
  • If you owe money to your Uncle Sam make your check payable to “United States Treasury Service” and not to the Internal Revenue Service or to IRS. Write your Social Security Number and “2012 Form 1040” (or 2011 Form 1040A)” on the check.
  • Make a copy of the return for your records – or be sure you get a copy from your paid preparer.
  • Have the envelope weighed to be sure there is enough postage, and see that it includes your full return address.

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