It's that time of year again when many of us start thinking about taxes and making sure everything is in order for the upcoming tax season. For most of us, this means ensuring we have all of our necessary documents and receipts ready to go. But for some, it may also mean discovering a mistake that was made on previous tax returns. One common mistake that can have serious consequences is accidentally selecting "head of household" status on your taxes. If you or your spouse have made this mistake, it's important to understand the potential consequences and how to fix it.
What is Head of Household Status?
Before we dive into the consequences of accidentally selecting head of household on your taxes, it's important to understand what this status means. Head of household is a filing status that is typically reserved for single individuals who are responsible for supporting themselves and at least one dependent. This status allows for lower tax rates and a higher standard deduction compared to filing as single or married filing separately. In order to qualify as head of household, you must meet certain criteria, including being unmarried for the entire tax year and providing more than half of the financial support for a qualifying dependent.
The Potential Consequences
Now that we understand what head of household status entails, it's important to address the potential consequences of accidentally selecting this status on your taxes. If you or your spouse have been filing as married filing jointly and accidentally selected head of household, you may have underpaid your taxes. This is because head of household status typically results in a lower tax liability compared to married filing jointly. In this case, you may owe additional taxes and potentially face penalties and interest for underpayment.
On the other hand, if you have been filing as head of household for several years and should have been filing as married filing jointly, you may have overpaid your taxes. This means you may be eligible for a refund of the overpayment. However, it's important to note that the IRS may also review your past tax returns and potentially assess penalties for filing incorrectly.
Fixing the Mistake
If you have discovered that you or your spouse accidentally selected head of household status on your taxes, the first step is to consult with a tax advisor. They can help you determine the best course of action based on your specific situation. In some cases, it may be possible to amend your previous tax returns and correct the mistake. However, this can be a complicated and time-consuming process, so it's important to seek professional guidance.
In addition, if you have underpaid your taxes due to this mistake, it's important to make sure you are prepared to pay any additional taxes owed. This can help you avoid penalties and interest from the IRS.
Preventing Future Mistakes
Accidentally selecting head of household status on your taxes can have serious consequences, so it's important to take steps to prevent this mistake from happening in the future. One way to do this is to make sure you and your spouse are on the same page when it comes to your tax filing status each year. This means discussing any changes in your marital or financial status and ensuring you both understand the implications of each filing status. It may also be helpful to seek the advice of a tax professional to ensure you are filing correctly.
In conclusion, accidentally selecting head of household status on your taxes can have serious consequences, including potential underpayment or overpayment of taxes. If you have made this mistake, it's important to consult with a tax advisor and take the necessary steps to correct it. By understanding the implications of your tax filing status and seeking professional guidance, you can avoid potential penalties and ensure your taxes are filed correctly. Don't wait until it's time to file your taxes - take action now to prevent this mistake from happening in the future.