Mar 24, 2021

Question of the Day: How many math errors did taxpayers make on tax returns in 2019?

Answer: 1.9 million

Over 50% of the errors are with tax calculations/other taxes.

Here are the top 10: 

[2] Includes all errors associated with the calculation and assessment of income taxes, as well as other taxes, such as self-employment tax, alternative minimum tax, and household employment tax.

Source: IRS data


  • Does it surprise you that taxpayers make so many errors on their tax returns? 
  • What are strategies that you can use to avoid making mistakes on your own tax return? 
  • What are the consequences when you make math errors on your return?

Here's the ready-to-go slides for this Question of the Day that you can use in your classroom.

Behind the numbers (H&R Block):

A math error made on a tax return can be more than just a simple addition or subtraction error. When one of the above errors happens, the IRS can use the authority it is given in the tax law and correct the error without going through deficiency procedures.

This means the IRS will make changes to your tax return, increase or decrease the taxes owed, and send you a notice. Some (but not all) of these notices give you 60 days to contact the IRS if you disagree with the changes. If you notify the IRS that you disagree, the IRS will reverse the changes. However, it is important to note that if you cannot provide proof that the changes you disputed were incorrect, the IRS will forward your return to the audit division for further review.


The NGPF Tax Unit is updated every January to reflect tax law changes. Check it out here! 


About the Author

Tim Ranzetta

Tim's saving habits started at seven when a neighbor with a broken hip gave him a dog walking job. Her recovery, which took almost a year, resulted in Tim getting to know the bank tellers quite well (and accumulating a savings account balance of over $300!). His recent entrepreneurial adventures have included driving a shredding truck, analyzing executive compensation packages for Fortune 500 companies and helping families make better college financing decisions. After volunteering in 2010 to create and teach a personal finance program at Eastside College Prep in East Palo Alto, Tim saw firsthand the impact of an engaging and activity-based curriculum, which inspired him to start a new non-profit, Next Gen Personal Finance.

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