Not every interaction with the IRS must necessarily induce flop sweat. Case in point: A few years ago a friend of mine decided his income taxes had become sufficiently complicated to merit hiring an accountant. After examining previous tax returns, the accountant discovered my friend had claimed the standard deduction for two years when he should have itemized expenses. He filed a couple of amended tax returns and voila — the IRS wrote him checks totaling more than $1,200.
Of course, not all tax-filing mistakes end on such a happy note. Sometimes people find out after submitting a return that their employer had sent an incorrect W-2 form, or they forgot to report self-employment income, or they incorrectly claimed someone as a dependent.
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Jason Alderman directs Visa’s financial education programs. Follow him on Twitter at PracticalMoney.