Once in a while, people need to submit an amended tax return to the IRS.
They already submitted their return, but they needed to change, add, or correct something on the original form for one reason or another. They complete the amended return to adjust something minor or significant.
What is an Amended Tax Return?
Amended income tax returns change information that appeared on the original tax return. Sometimes, it’s a correction. Other times it might be to add the missing data.
For example, if you receive several 1099-MISC forms each year stating your income, you might misplace one before doing your taxes.
This is what happened to one of our editors here at Clear Value Finance. After she submitted her tax return, she found a stray 1099-MISC for $800 buried on her desk. Consequently, she had to submit an amended tax return and pay the difference in taxes.
If the amendment is exceptionally late, you might also have to pay penalty fees.
When You Should Amend Your Tax Return
You should amend your tax return when you:
- Change or correction of filing status.
- Correct the number of dependents (e.g., someone else claimed your dependent child or family member).
- Modify your original income.
- Forgot to claim credits or deductions.
- Your employer made a mistake and sent a new form.
- Forgot to report income from a freelance job, side hustle, or investments.
- You were a victim of a disaster.
The deadline is to file an amended tax return is within three years of the original filing. If you paid a tax, you would file within two years. The IRS lets you use whichever date is later. It takes the IRS approximately 16 weeks to process your amended return.
Note that the IRS may automatically extend deadlines for taxpayers in combat zones and contingency operations.
However, if you are due a refund, wait for the IRS to process the original return to file your amended documents.
When Not to Amend Your Tax Return
You probably do not need to amend a return if you make a simple math error or did not complete a form or schedule. The IRS automatically corrects math errors and will notify you by mail if they require anything else.
Typically, the IRS will not require an amended return if you forgot to attach a W2 form.
If you underreported your income, the IRS would contact you by mail. In general, they expect you to respond to their notice, not send an amended return.
Some unfortunate souls receive audit notices. At that point, it will not help you to submit an amended return. Wait for instructions from the IRS on any additional documentation they require.
If you e-filed and the IRS rejected it, that does not constitute an error to amend. If that happens to you, re-submit your return. Usually, identity theft and dependent issues trigger rejected returns.
Finally, if you submitted your tax return and then received a W-2 or 1099 income statement, you may not need to amend it. Just add the forms, fix the error on your tax return, and resend the e-filing.
How To Amend Your Tax Return
Amending your own tax return is not complicated. You have several options:
- Amend a tax return yourself. Download the 1040-X form, fill it out, print it, sign it, and mail it to the IRS.
- Ask a tax preparer to amend the forms for you. Provide them with the changes, and they will take care of the rest. Make sure to ask if they will charge you for the amendment.
- File the 1040-X form online.
If you amended your federal tax return, you might need to amend your state income tax return as well.
If you owe taxes, the IRS recommends paying them as soon as possible to avoid late payment penalties and interest.
Track Your Amended Tax Return
The IRS made it easy to track your amended return. Their “Where’s My Amended Return” online tracking tool provides the status and relevant information. The system will need your date of birth, Social Security number, and zip code to pull up the information.
Alternatively, you can call the IRS phone number 866-464-2050 for help after three weeks passed since you submitted the form. Not sure if you should file an amended return? Let the IRS Interactive Assistant help you.
If you are unsure whether you should file an amended tax return, just call the IRS hotline and ask. They are there to help you, not get you in trouble. Or, you can reach out to a local CPA or Enrolled Agent for advice.