Common Error #1:  Incorrect Filing Status

It’s easier than you might think to select an incorrect filing status on your return. For example, taxpayers may think they qualify as “head of household” if they are the primary earner. However, serving as the main breadwinner for a household isn’t the only requirement for this status. Here’s a basic breakdown of the five filing status options on Form 1040:


You can file as single if:

  • You’ve never been married
  • You were legally separated or completed a divorce before the end of 2023 and did not remarry before January 1, 2024
  • Your spouse died before January 1, 2023, and you did not remarry during that year

Be aware, however, that you may be able to claim another filing status that would result in a larger standard deduction. Keep reading to determine whether you may be eligible to claim a different filing status.

Married Filing Jointly

Married taxpayers may file joint returns even if they were not living together at the end of the year. Additionally, those whose spouses died in 2023 or before a tax return is filed in 2024 are considered married for tax purposes in 2023.

Married Filing Separately

Most often, married couples owe less tax when they file jointly. However, you may want to have a tax professional prepare your return both separately and jointly to ensure you’re choosing the most beneficial status. Additionally, it’s important to be aware that joint filers are both individually responsible for all information that appears on the return. As a result, an individual may want to file separately from their spouse if they’re concerned that their spouse isn’t correctly reporting their income or otherwise doesn’t want to be responsible for their spouse’s tax liabilities.

Head of Household

The head of household filing status applies only to unmarried individuals who provide for more than half the cost of keeping a home for themselves and at least one qualifying individual. In some circumstances, people who were legally married but lived apart for at least half the year are considered unmarried. If the person supported by the taxpayer is their parent, they may still qualify as head of household if that parent lives at a different address. Because the rules for this filing status are complex, consult a tax professional if you’re unsure whether you’re able to file as head of household.

Qualifying Surviving Spouse

A qualifying surviving spouse is entitled to use the “married filing jointly” status, even though their spouse has passed away. This applies to those whose spouses died during the current or previous two tax years. To use this status, the taxpayer must not have remarried before the end of the tax year, and they must have at least one child or stepchild living with them whom they can claim as a dependent. Additionally, they must provide for at least half of household costs during the year.

Common Error #2:  Inaccurate Personal Information

Personal information seems simple enough, but it’s a common source of filing errors. Mistakes in personal information can include incorrectly entered Social Security numbers, misspellings of names or use of nicknames, errors in birthdates, or incorrectly entered bank information. Double check all this information and make sure it’s entered correctly to avoid delays in processing your return.

Common Error #3:  Missed or Incorrectly Claimed Credits & Deductions

Before you submit your return, make sure you haven’t overlooked any tax breaks you could be claiming. The standard deduction for 2023 is $13,850 for single filers, $27,700 for married couples filing jointly, and $20,800 for heads of household. If your itemizable deductions would exceed the relevant amount, then make sure to fill out Form 1040  Schedule A to claim all the deductions to which you’re entitled. Examples of itemizable deductions include medical and dental expenses that exceed 7.5% of your adjusted gross income (AGI), state and local taxes, home mortgage interest, charitable gifts, and losses from federally declared disasters. Additional deductions, including student loan interest and contributions to health savings or qualified retirement accounts, and more can be claimed on Form 1040 Schedule 1.

You may also qualify for tax credits that could significantly lower your tax liability or entitle you to a refund. Important credits in 2023 include:

  • Child tax credit
  • Additional child tax credit
  • Child & dependent care credit
  • Credit for other dependents
  • Earned income credit
  • American opportunity & lifetime learning credits

The above are not complete lists of possible credits and deductions for the 2023 tax year. Be sure to examine your return carefully and consult with a tax professional to ensure you’re not missing out.

Common Error #4:  Unsigned Forms

This may seem extraordinarily picky, but the IRS will not accept an unsigned tax form. In the case of a joint return, both taxpayers must sign. If you are required to file a return, simply neglecting to include your signature could subject you to penalties for failure to file. You can easily avoid this problem, however, by using an e-filingmethod, as these systems will not submit returns that lack an electronic signature.

Common Error #5:  Math Errors

Form 1040 requires multiple calculations, making it easy to make arithmetic errors when filling it out by hand. Fortunately, e-filing programs do the calculations for you, eliminating the risk of this type of error. If you file a paper form, make sure to double and triple check your math. If an error causes you to submit a smaller payment than you owe, you’ll be on the hook for interest and penalties.


Rosenberg Chesnov Advisors LLC, a Stable Rock company, is here to help ensure your 2023 tax return is accurate, complete, and timely filed. Learn more about our services for individuals, or subscribe to our blog to get regular updates on important tax and financial topics.