Some Things You Need to Know When Filing Your Tax Return

Filing your annual tax return can be overwhelming, especially when you try to accomplish it without the help of an experienced tax professional. To lessen, if not totally eliminate, your chances of committing errors when filling out your forms, learning some basic information about tax return filing can spell a huge difference.

To qualify for head of household filing status, do I have to claim my child as a dependent?

Generally, you must have a qualifying child or dependent to qualify for head of household. However, a custodial parent may also be able to claim head of household filing status with a qualifying child even if he or she released a claim to exemption for the child.

What should I do if I made a mistake on my federal return that I've already filed?

This depends on the type of mistake you made. If these are mathematical errors that are caught during the processing of the tax return, you may not need to correct them as they will already be corrected by the IRS. On the other hand, if you didn't claim the correct filing status or you need to change your income, deductions, or credits, you should file an amended or corrected return using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Can I receive a tax refund if I am currently making payments under an installment agreement or payment plan for another federal tax period?

No. This is because one of the conditions of your installment agreement is that the IRS will automatically apply any refund due to you against taxes you owe. Because your refund isn't applied toward your regular monthly payment, you should continue making your installment agreement payment as scheduled.

There are cases wherein you'll receive a refund of the amount over and above what you owe. These include instances when your refund exceeds your total balance due on all outstanding liabilities including accruals and you don't owe certain past-due amounts, such as federal tax, state tax, a student loan, or child support. To learn more about these non-IRS refund offsets, you can call the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) at (800) 304-3107 (toll-free).