The Pitfalls of Preparing Your Own Tax Return

The Pitfalls of Preparing Your Own Tax Return

In recent years, it has been more and more common for individuals to try to prepare and file their own personal tax return.  This statistic has increased due to multiple factors, such as, economic downturn, availability of low-cost tax software, and disillusionment with dedicated tax return preparation companies.  This has spurred an increase in do-it-yourself taxpayers.  Unfortunately, this do-it-yourself tax preparation does have drawbacks for individuals that have a more complex portfolio.

Often, basic mistakes are made and have been known to cause delays in refund processing and sometimes have led to audits.  As Accountants and IRS Mediators, we have seen many errors and have assisted many individuals in making corrections and negotiating with the IRS for reductions in penalties and fines.  To help prevent some of these issues from happening, JBL Accounting and Tax Professionals have compiled a list of the…

The Top 10 Mistakes Made on Tax Returns:

    1. Failure to provide your Social Security Number or other required information.

      Incorrect or missing social security numbers are one of the most common mistakes made in preparing tax returns.  Be sure to double-check all numbers for accuracy.

    2. Incorrect Filing Status or Exemptions:
      • Check only one filing status box.
      • Check the appropriate exemption boxes and include the correct social security number for each exemption.
      • Your name and the names of your spouse, dependents, and qualifying children for earned income credit or child tax credit must be exactly as they appear on their social security cards. If there have been any name changes, go to .
      • Enter your total number of exemptions.
    3. Computation Errors:

      Double check all your calculations.  Simple mathematical errors can cause major delays in the processing and time it takes to receive your refund.  The most common computational errors include:

      • Taxable income
      • Withholding and estimated tax payments
      • Earned income credit
      • Standard deduction for those 65 or older or blind
      • Taxable amount of social security benefits
      • Child and dependent care credit
    4. Incorrect Tax Calculations

      Entering the wrong tax for your taxable income and filing status is a very common mistake. If you use the tax tables, be sure to use the column that corresponds to your filing status.

    5. Failure to correctly enter taxes paid:

      Be sure to enter your withholding and estimated tax payments on the correct lines.

    6. Failure to correctly identify child care providers.

      Missing or incorrect provider identification numbers are a very common mistake.  Like with your Social Security Number, it is imperative that you enter the correct Tax Identification Number of your Child Care Provider.   Double check your entries, and verify with your provider.

    7. Incorrect Bank Routing and Account Numbers for Refunds

      The majority of individuals are requesting direct deposit of their refunds.  Direct Deposit refunds are usually received faster than requesting a physical check from the IRS.  If you have chosen this method for your refund, be sure that your account number and bank routing number are correct.  Incorrect numbers can cause your refund to be deposited into another person’s account or delayed.

    8. Failure to sign and date your return.

      If you are not e-filing your return you must physically sign the return before you mail it.  If you are filing jointly, both spouses must sign and date the return.

    9. Failure to attach all required form.

      Be sure that you have a Wage or Tax Statement or Form W-2 from each of your employers. Attach Copy B of each Form W-2 and any other forms that show federal income tax withheld, such as Form 1099-R,  to the front of your tax return. Combine the wages and withholdings from all of your W-2s on one return. Be sure to attach all other necessary forms and schedules to your tax return in the sequence indicated by the number in the upper right-hand corner of the form.

    10. Improper Payment or Mailing:

      If your return shows that you owe tax, include a check or money order payable to the “United States Treasury.” If you use a payment voucher, Form 1040-V, be sure to include it with your return. You can also pay your tax with a credit card. Your payment must show the following:

      • Your name
      • Address
      • Social security number
      • Daytime telephone number
      • Tax form number and year

Before you send your information, be sure to:

    • Review your entire tax return carefully, since mistakes can delay processing.
    • Make a copy of your signed return and all schedules for your records.

Mail your tax return in the pre-addressed envelope that came with your tax booklet. If you do not have a pre-addressed envelope, look in the “Where Do You File?” section of the tax instruction booklet or go to  to find where to mail your return. Use the correct amount of postage.

Double checking your return and sometimes triple checking it can prevent major delays with the IRS processing your tax refund.  Remember, the tax preparation software out there is great for simple returns, but even common life events, such as a home purchase, foreclosure, short sale, the birth of a child, or the death of a spouse can lead to complications that even the best software can’t handle.   Many people will qualify for more tax credits than they are aware of, and the tax software may not guide you through checking your eligibility.

It never hurts to check all of your options prior to committing yourself to self-preparation.  Contact JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals for your free consultation.

JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals is based in Harrison, Tennessee. We offer professional accounting and tax services to the entire Chattanooga area including, Hamilton County, Ootlewah, Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and Ringgold, Georgia.

Contact us today to see how we can help you!


Does Your Business Need An Accountant?

Does Your Business Need an Accountant?

So many times business owners come into our office with wondering if they need an Accountant.  This is usually how the scenario evolves when JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals, Inc. meets a new client:

JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals, Inc.: “Ok. Tell me what you are currently doing to manage your company finances.”

Client: “Well, not very much. I take in money and deposit it. I then pay the bills when they come in.”

JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals, Inc.: “So basically, if you have money in the account, you are doing well, if not, then not so much.”

Client: “Basically, yes.”

If you are in this situation you should not feel bad. If everyone was an accountant, we wouldn’t have a job. The fact is you either love accounting or you hate it.  Very rarely is there anyone in between. For this reason, new business owners should truly seek out an accountant even at the start-up of their company.

To run a successful, growing, and well-balanced business – a business should have balanced and well-managed books.  You have 3 choices when it comes to managing your corporate financial health. (1) Do it yourself, (2) Hire in-house accountant(s) or (3) Outsource to accounting professionals. Should I do it myself?

  • TIME – At a minimum, you will spend about 3 to 4 hours each day on accounting if accounting was maintained at all.
  • CONSISTENCY – Due to time constraints and other demands getting in the way, many business owners have a hard time being consistent in their approach to their financials. Financials won’t do you any good if you can’t keep them accurate.
  • ACCURACY – Do you have an accounting background, taken accounting courses, or some other source of knowledge base? Do you understand the difference between cash and accrual accounting and which is better for you? Do you know about the latest tax laws and are you managing your corporate finances to get the best tax advantages at the end of the year? Do you have time to balance the bank accounts or research complex accounting presentation?
  • MONEY – How much is your time worth? $15 per hour, $20, how about $40? If you spend 4 hours per day at a rate of $20 an hour, 5 days a week, you are paying $400 per week or $20K a year on accounting that might not be completely accurate and useful to help your business.
  • USE – Do you know how to read financials, budget, forecast, do trend analysis, prepare and pay various governmental taxes or set goals? If all of this information sounds foreign then how can you create financial goals and forecast how to make money?

So now what?  Now you have to decide if you should hire an in-house accountant or outsource to an accounting firm. Hiring an in-house accountant could be costly.  Don’t settle for someone who can handle light bookkeeping.  While this may help with lowering the expense for hiring an accounting employee, you probably won’t get the information critical to the success of your business.  Not only will you have to pay a salary for this accountant you will have to pay additional employee taxes along with unemployment taxes.  This will also force you to consider increasing your insurances and purchasing workman’s compensation.

This leaves you with outsourcing to an accounting firm. Outsourcing is the least expensive in the long run and you get more experienced professionals who want you to succeed because if your business grows and becomes successful then the professionals will increase their business as well.  In addition, there are fewer delays in getting your financials completed due to vacations, sick days, or turn-over.  Finally, accounting professionals are usually more up to date on federal and state laws and have the ability to help guide you in the best decisions for your business.  How do you find the right accounting firms?

  • EXPERIENCE – Be sure they have experience in your business industry and can handle the size of your company. You want to make sure they have a degree in accounting and have a good standing in the state.
  • COST – How do the firms charge for the work being processed? Usually firms charge in one of two different rate structures – hourly pricing or flat rate pricing. Make sure to ask about contingencies and changes and how these will affect pricing.
  • PERSONNEL – Accounting firms usually have multiple employees that will work with your business accounting. Make sure that your accounting will be reviewed by qualified management.
  • ADDITIONAL SERVICES – Accounting firms may have additional services such as quarterly business reviews, bank loan package preparations, and/or other services.

What’s next?  You need to research accounting firms and set an appointment with them.  Ask as many questions as necessary to understand who they are and if they can actually help you.  Remember you will be setting up a long-term relationship and you should completely comfortable with them.

JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals, Inc. values each and every relationship we have created.  We work to maximize these relationships by keeping our clients up to date with federal and state organizations, increasing growth through knowledge and building our community one relationship at a time.  Contact our office today to schedule an appointment at (615) 392-0522.  You can also go to our website – – and find out who we are and what we do.

JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals, Inc. is a professional accounting, tax, and payroll firm serving the Chattanooga, Tennessee area, including Harrison, Hamilton County, Ootlewah, Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia and Ringgold, Georgia.  Our staff has over 30 years of experience in accounting, tax return preparation and payroll preparation.  We would love to meet with you and gain your trust and business.

JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals is based in Harrison, Tennessee. We offer professional accounting and tax services to the entire Chattanooga area, including Hamilton County, Ootlewah, and Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold, Georgia

Contact us today to see how we can help you!

Prevent Identity Theft When Filing Tax Return

Prevent Identity Theft When Filing Tax Return

We here at JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals want to make all of our customers aware of an additional piece of information needed when filing this year’s tax return. Our tax staff will be asking for your driver’s license number, state of issuance, and expiration date as part of your paperwork to complete your tax filing.

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has added this extra security measure to prevent identity theft. Various states require your driver’s license number before you file, but we are requiring all of our customers to provide this information so we can help protect your information.

When turning in your paperwork to seasoned tax staff, please make sure to include your driver’s license number, state of issuance, and expiration date. If you have any questions regarding this measure or any other tax matters, please contact us and we will be glad to answer your questions.

We thank you for putting your confidence and trust in JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals and look forward to services all of your financial needs.

JBL Accounting & Tax Professionals is based in Harrison, Tennessee. We offer professional accounting and tax services to the entire Chattanooga area, including Hamilton County, Ootlewah, and Fort Oglethorpe and Ringgold, Georgia.

Contact us today to see how we can help you!