Budgeting & Saving

How Do You File an Amended Tax Return?

Did you make an error or leave out important information when you originally filed your taxes? Mistakes happen. Still, discovering your tax refund was filed incorrectly can be stressful.

Here's the good news. If you make a mistake on your taxes, the Internal Revenue Service gives you a chance to fix those errors by filing an amended tax return.

To file an amended tax return, you will need a copy of your original return along with any new or additional information that you need to include.

Should I File an Amended Tax Return?

When you make an error on a tax return or come across new information (perhaps a tax deduction you didn't know you could claim), an amended tax return can help you to correct the problem.

Consider filing an amended return if you need to make any of the following changes:

  • The filing status on your tax return needs to be adjusted.
  • The amount of income you claimed needs to be corrected.
  • You need to correct the deductions you claimed (or failed to claim).
  • You need to correct the credits you claimed (or failed to claim).

For some errors, you might not need to file an amended return at all. It depends on the type of mistake you made.

Mistakes that may not require you to file an amended tax return include:

  • Mathematical errors
    Per the IRS, many mathematical errors are caught when tax returns are processed. When math errors are caught, the IRS typically corrects them.
  • Missing forms
    Did you forget to attach a tax form to your original return, like a W-2 or 1099? If so, the IRS may mail you a request for this missing information when it processes your return.

If you are thinking about filing an amended return due to one of the mistakes above, the IRS advises you to wait until receiving the refund (if applicable) from your original return first. Then you can file an amended return to claim any additional refund amount. From there, you'll have to be patient. Amended returns can take up to 16 weeks to process.

Steps for Filing an Amended Return

There are two basic steps you will need to complete to file an amended tax return.

  1. Collect all supporting documents.

    Step one in filing an amended tax return is to make physical copies of all the documents you need. Remember, this includes a copy of your original return along with supporting forms, schedules and any worksheets you completed.

    Electronic copies of your documents will not work. Unlike traditional tax returns, you have to file your amended return on paper and not submit it electronically.

  2. Fill out the appropriate form and mail it to the IRS.
  3. You can download and use IRS Form 1040X to correct your tax return. Follow the instructions to figure out where you should mail the form.

    The IRS suggests the easiest way to figure the entries for Form 1040X is to make the changes directly in the margins of your original tax return. From there, you can transfer the numbers to your Form 1040X.

    Remember to check the box at the top of the form to show which year you are amending.

If you think you need to submit an amended tax form, don't wait: The IRS puts a clock on how long you have to file it. This is especially true if you are claiming an additional refund. In general, taxpayers must file any amended returns within three years of the date they filed their original tax return or within two years from the date they paid the tax, whichever is later.

If you would like more information about when you may need to file an amended tax return (and how to file one), you can review this helpful guide from the IRS.

Do Taxes Impact My Credit Report?

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