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Jewish World Review April 4, 2001 / 11 Nissan, 5761

Mary Deibel

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Consumer Reports

Points to double-check on your tax return -- Last-minute tax filers should take time to double-check their numbers: Incorrect Social Security numbers and math mistakes are the top problem the Internal Revenue Service sees on tax returns.

The agency has started checking all Social Security numbers down to those you have for your new baby. Make sure the numbers are correct - and that your name and Social Security number match up: More than a few newlyweds and divorced couples have been tripped up by not making a Social Security name change, says certified public accountant Michael Greenwald with BDO Seidman.

Errors in arithmetic or in transferring figures from one form to another will result in an immediate correction notice from the IRS. If you owe more taxes because of the mistake, you'll get an automatic bill for the additional amount.

Also, remember interest and dividend payments get reported to the IRS by your bank, broker and mutual fund. The IRS tries to match every return against these 1099 forms the agency gets by computer tape or paper, and mix-ups can trigger a notice for taxes owed.

The congressional General Accounting Office reports that half the 10 million correction notices that get sent out each year may be "incorrect, unresponsive, unclear or incomplete." So double-check yourself to make sure the IRS is right, then pay up if you owe or contact the agency if you think it's mistaken.

Other mistakes can flag your return.

- Make sure your name and any other names on your tax forms are correct. Missing, illegible or invalid names delay processing.

- Include all required paperwork including W-2 wage-and-salary forms and Schedule D for capital gains and losses.

- Make your check out to "U.S. Treasury," not the IRS.

- Sign your return.

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