What Causes My E-File Tax Return to Be Denied?

by Tara Thomas ; Updated March 15, 2018
Your electronically-filed return can be rejected for a number of reasons.

There’s no doubt, being able to file your federal taxes electronically with the IRS is a time-saver at tax time. However, when your e-filed tax return is denied, electronically filed returns can go from convenient to frustrating, and quickly. Your electronically filed tax return can be rejected for a number of reasons, usually due only to typos and simple mistakes.

Common Causes for Rejection

Making sure your tax return is filed correctly starts with ensuring the information is accurate. One of the most common mistakes that taxpayers who e-file make is accidentally misspelling their name or entering their Social Security number incorrectly. This may seem like a simple mistake, however, the IRS uses the name provided on your tax forms to match against your Social Security number. A simple typo of your name on your W-4 or W-2 can result in your e-file being rejected when you file and spell it correctly. Also, when filing jointly, be sure to report the primary taxpayer’s name and Social Security number, as listed on tax documents. If you claim taxes with your spouse and you're the primary taxpayer, an incorrect spousal Social Security number can also cause a rejection, because the names or Social Security numbers will not match.

Another cause for rejection is the case in which someone else claims a dependent whom you’ve also claimed on your tax return. The IRS allows for dependents to be claimed only on one person’s return. If both parents are eligible claim a dependent, then the IRS will use the tie-breaker rule to determine which parent qualifies to claim the child. This type of error can also occur when a dependent files taxes and claims an exemption for himself, as only one Social Security Number can be filed on any returns.

When you report your income when you e-file, it should match the amount reported on your W-2. Although you won’t have your return rejected if the amounts aren’t exactly the same, you will have your return rejected if you under-report income. This can be a basic oversight, miscalculation error or other mistake while transferring information from your W-2 when you're e-filing.

Handling a Denied E-Filed Tax Return

Along with your rejection, you’ll also receive an error code or codes that let you know why your return was rejected. And, as you can imagine, the list of codes is extensive. You can go online and find IRS federal income tax return error code searches to determine the reason this error code was generated. When you know the reason why your return was denied, you can then take steps to rectify the issues.

Some issues simply require that you correct the errors and submit your electronic filing again, while other errors require you to make corrections and re-submit your return by mail. If at any time you are unsure of why your return was rejected, or you need further help reconciling any errors, you can contact the IRS’ Telephone Assistance at 800-829-1040 for further guidance.

About the Author

Tara Thomas is a Los Angeles-based writer and avid world traveler. Her articles appear in various online publications, including Sapling, PocketSense, Zacks, Livestrong, Modern Mom and SF Gate. She began her writing career in high school authoring grant proposals for a Southern California marine science laboratory where she volunteered. This helped her develop a lifelong passion for environmentalism which encouraged her to obtain a Bachelor of Science in marine biology from California State University, Long Beach. Thomas is also an event consultant/planner, spent 10 years as a mortgage consultant and enjoys penning on the topics of personal finance, travel and sustainable practices.

Photo Credits

  • Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images
Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article