I don’t think filing taxes is on anyone’s list of favorite things to do, let alone filing an amended return. The process can be extremely complicated and frustrating. I should know — as a former accountant, I used to help people prepare their tax returns. I understand how difficult it can be to manage your taxes without professional help.
On occasion, a client would forget to provide an important piece of information. Even worse, sometimes a client didn’t find the information until after their original return was filed.
So what should you do if you forget to include an important item in your return? Consult with a tax professional to determine whether you need to file an amended tax return.
Get the Most out of Your Refund — File a Free Federal Tax Return >>
Why File an Amended Tax Return?
Some of the common reasons individuals amend their returns include claiming an additional tax refund after the filing deadline has passed, acknowledging additional income that would result in owing more income tax, or correcting mistaken deductions or credits.
You should file an amended income tax return if your income, deductions, credits, filing status, or dependents were reported incorrectly on your original tax return, according to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). For instance, if you realize you forgot to add your student loan interest deduction when you originally filed your tax return, you will likely want to file an amended return.
When to File It
If you owe additional tax, make sure to file as soon as possible in order to avoid any penalties or accrued interest. Those seeking an additional refund for their amended taxes must file a Form 1040X in order to qualify.
You have to file within one of two time periods (whichever is longer).
One time frame is within two years after you paid the original, incorrect tax amount. The other is within three years from the date that you originally filed your tax return. If you filed before the original due date, you can use the April 15 due date as your deadline.
If you filed an extension for your tax return that year, the extended time you used until you filed counts as well. However, if you filed before your extended due date, you can only use the date on which you actually filed.
See the form instructions if you are uncertain about any special rules that may apply in your state.
Get the Most out of Your Refund — File Business Taxes Today >>
How to File an Amended Tax Return
Filing an amended return usually isn’t too difficult. Most people do so using the same tax preparation method that they originally used. If you used a CPA, it would make sense to go back to the same CPA to file the amended return. Many preparation methods can result in additional fees from your tax professional or software.
Steps to Take
If you braved the filing process on your own, here’s how to file an amended tax return, as per the IRS:
- You must complete Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, on paper.
- Only submit a 1040X to correct errors. Common mistakes like miscalculations will be taken care of automatically by the IRS. You should amend to change things such as your filing status or to correct your income, deductions, or credits.
- Don’t amend for missing forms. If you forgot to attach tax forms, such as a W-2 or a Schedule C, the IRS will usually mail you a request for them.
- Some taxpayers may receive a second Form 1095-A because the information on their original form was incorrect or incomplete. Comparing the 1095-A forms can help you determine if you should file a 1040X.
- If you’re amending your taxes for more than one year, you’ll need to prepare a 1040X for each year and mail the forms separately.
- If you’re using other IRS forms or schedules to submit changes, make sure to attach them to the 1040X.
- Waiting for a refund on the original return submitted? Hold off until you receive it before submitting your 1040X. An amended return can take up to 16 weeks to process.
- If you owe more money, file your 1040X ASAP to avoid possible penalties and interest from being tacked on! You can use IRS Direct Pay to pay directly from your bank account.
- You can track your return within about three weeks of submission using “Where’s My Amended Return?”
Form 1040 vs. Form 1040X
The form has many of the same items found on Form 1040, but instead of one column of numbers, Form 1040X has three. The IRS requests you input the original tax return numbers and the new numbers you wish to file, as well as the change between the original return and the new numbers. Form 1040X will also ask for the reason you made changes to your tax return.
Get the Most out of Your Refund — File Personal Taxes Today >>
The Bottom Line on Filing an Amended Tax Return
Filing taxes is a stressful endeavor, and discovering you’ve made an error only exacerbates it. Remember we all make mistakes, and that the important thing is that we fix them. As such, if you’ve discovered an error on your return, take the necessary steps, consult key professionals, and fill out the correct forms. You and the IRS will be square in no time at all.
Additional reporting by Jazmin Rosa. Additional background information provided by Chayim Kessler of Miami Beach CPA.