I don’t think filing taxes is on anyone’s list of favorite things to do. The process can be extremely complicated and frustrating for some. As a former accountant, I used to help people prepare their tax returns. Every once in a while, a client would forget to provide an important piece of information. Or sometimes a client didn’t find the information until after their original return was filed.
So what should you do if you forget to add something important to your return? You may have to file an amended tax return. As always, make sure you consult with a tax professional before doing so, as each person’s situation is unique.
Get the Most out of Your Refund — File a Free Federal Tax Return >>
Why File an Amended Tax Return?
People usually amend their tax returns for various reasons, including to claim an additional tax refund, to acknowledge additional income that would result in owing more income tax, or to correct mistaken deductions or credits.
According to the IRS, you should file an amended income tax return if your income, deductions, credits, filing status, or dependents were filed incorrectly on your original tax return. For instance, if you found out you forgot to add your student loan interest deduction when you originally filed your tax return, you will likely want to file an amended tax 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. In order to qualify to amend your return for an additional refund, you must file an amended tax return called a Form 1040X.
You have to file within one of two time periods (whichever is longer).
One time frame is within two years after you paid the tax. The other is within three years of the date that you originally filed the tax return. If you filed before the original due date, you can use the 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 that CPA to file the amended return. Both preparation methods may result in additional fees from your CPA or tax preparation software.
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 the 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, 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 in 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 tax, file your 1040X ASAP to avoid possible penalties and interest from being tacked onto your account! 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?”
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.
For more information on how to file an amended tax return, read the instructions for Form 1040X on the IRS website or consult a tax professional.
Get the Most out of Your Refund — File Personal Taxes Today >>
Additional reporting by Jazmin Rosa.