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How to File an Amended Tax Return

by Miranda Marquit

You might have found, when going back through your tax return, that there are some mistakes. Maybe you didn’t take a credit you were entitled to. Sometimes, filers report the wrong filing status. No matter the reason, a mistake on your tax return usually means that you will need to file an amended tax return. An amended tax return is meant to help you correct such situations. (Note, though, that the IRS does not consider calculation errors as a reason for filing an amended return; the computer usually catches these.)

How to File an Amended Tax Return

file amended tax returnYou usually have three years to file an amended tax return, dating from when you filed the return that needs a correction. So if you didn’t take a credit on your 2009 tax return, you can file your amended return and possibly get a tax refund for it. Realize, too, that once you file your original return, you can’t file another one that is more accurate. Once your return is off to the IRS, you need to file an amended return to fix any errors.

The proper form for filing an amended tax return is 1040X. You can usually find this form at the library, city offices, or at IRS.gov. You should also be aware that if you owe additional money to the IRS, you will need to make that payment by Tax Day in the year that you file the amended return. Regular payment methods accepted by the IRS can be used to meet your tax obligation.

Include, with your 1040X, schedules and forms that contribute to the reason you are filing the amended return. This means that you need to including an W-2 forms or 1099 forms that may have been forgotten. If you made a mistake filling out a form for a tax credit, or filling out one of the Schedules, you will need to include that as well, properly filled out this time.

For returns amended for tax years prior to 2010, you have to mail in the form; there is no electronic option for filing. However, starting with tax year 2010, you will be able to file your amended return electronically using e-file. This should speed up the process of processing amended returns, and help you get the money you might be owed a little bit faster.

When the IRS Asks You to Amend Your Return

Sometimes, the IRS will ask you to amend your tax return. This means that there is a suspicion that not everything is above board. The IRS will send you a letter — via mail — with the request. Make sure that you comply with the request. Be sure to include a copy of the letter asking you to file an amended return with your documentation.

Filing an amended return can be a way to remedy a problem with your tax return. Indeed, it is the only way to fix some of the more glaring mistakes and omissions. Make sure you file your 1040X properly. If you have questions, it might be a good idea to consult with a trusted tax professional who can help you properly prepare your documents.


Published or updated April 8, 2011.
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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

1 Pat S.

Might want to wait until the government opens up again… just saying.

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