Top tax mistakes: How to get more money back

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Three more weeks to get your taxes finished and filed. You know the drill, but what could you be missing?

It's easy to get mixed up in all those numbers at tax time.

"I go to the same dentist, same doctor, and I go to the same tax guy," said Jacqueline Bonvine. "You have to trust the experts."

So we asked the experts at H&R Block: what are we doing wrong?

"About two out of three returns that we look at we actual find a mistake on," said Lisa Atkins. Senior Tax Advisor Atkins says you could be missing out on money.

"Most of this is getting you money back. And people forget to take them," she said.

The biggest mistake: forgetting to credit education for you or a dependent.

"One of the number one things that we see is education. They are either not taking their education credits, or they are taking the wrong education credit," said Atkins.

The second: the way you file. "People choose the wrong filing statuses." Atkins says filing separately rarely benefits couples. And filing as a head of household requires a dependent.

There are dozens of credits that we all tend to forget, like the Earned Income Tax Credit which can credit you more than $5000.

How about casualty loss credits if you had extensive, uninsured storm damage last year? There are also energy efficient improvement credits. And up to $13,000 if you've adopted -- or a possible credit if you've bought an electric vehicle.

And don't forget two sneaky sources of income. If you've negotiated down your debt, that becomes taxable income.

Also make sure you have a W-2 for any job you worked last year. "If you only worked a week, or a few days for a certain company, you might forget that you're going to get a W-2 from them. That might be one of your big mistakes," said Atkins.

"We see a lot of that during this type of economy where people jump from job to job."

Whatever you do, don't make the mistake of filing on paper, instead, trash this and file online.

"The IRS really wants to see electronic returns. It's easier to process that way," said Atkins. "It's also a quick way for you to ensure that they got it."

And if you can't pay up yet, or need an extension, speak up now. "They will work with you. They're not as bad as we think they are," she said.

There's one reason not to wait any longer: "If you get them done early, you get your money earlier," said Bill Murrell, who had his done months ago.

If you've filed your taxes on your own, Atkins suggests having a trained tax professional take a second look. H&R Block and other providers offer this for free. Just bring your last three years of tax returns, along with the current forms, and be prepared for it to take about an hour for a simple return.


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