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An amended tax return corrects mistakes on a federal tax return. Here's how to file an amended tax return with the IRS, when to amend a tax return and other rules you need to know.
What is an amended tax return?
IRS Form 1040-X, also known as an amended tax return, is a form that taxpayers can file with the IRS to correct mistakes made on a federal tax return. The form is typically used to reconcile errors concerning tax liability, filing status, income or deductions/credits claimed.
Taxpayers can also submit an amended tax return to claim a refund due for credits or deductions they were eligible for but did not claim on their original returns.
» Need to track your amended return? How to check on the status of your 1040-X
When to amend a tax return
If you catch a major error before the IRS does, or you receive new tax documents after you’ve already filed, you may need to amend your original return by filing Form 1040-X.
Here are quick guidelines for when to file an amended return per the IRS:
You used the wrong tax-filing status.
You misreported your dependents.
You forgot to include certain taxable income.
You incorrectly claimed (or forgot to claim) a tax deduction or credit.
Some mistakes, such as a minor math error, may not warrant filing an amended return, according to the IRS. If you're unsure if your situation warrants an amended return, the agency has an interview-style tool that can help you to determine whether you should file one.
How to amend a tax return
To amend your return, you'll need to fill out Form 1040-X. Many online guided tax-prep programs support filing an amended return electronically and can walk you through the steps of filling out the form. You can electronically amend Form 1040 or Form 1040-SR from tax years 2020 and later.
Before you begin, give your original return a thorough review to make sure you've accounted for all the things you need to correct. Then, gather any tax documents you may need to reference while filling out the amended return. If you're correcting income, for example, this could mean grabbing that Form 1099 you overlooked or a revised W-2 you received after submitting your original return.
If you choose to file your amended return by paper, you can download Form 1040-X directly from the IRS website. Make sure to include any forms or schedules that were included in your original filing, as well as any new forms or schedules necessary to process your return.
Note: If you need to file an amended return for a return originally filed before 2022, the amended return must be filed on paper and sent to the IRS by mail. The same goes for any Form 1040-NR or 1040-SS/PR from more than two years ago, or any prior-year return that was originally filed by paper during the current year.
If you filed a tax return before Feb. 10, 2023, and paid taxes on certain state refunds or special state payments that the IRS has since determined are nontaxable, the agency is advising that you may want to consider filing an amended tax return. The IRS has a full list of the states and payment types this applies to on its website, and you can check with a tax pro or your tax preparer if you're unsure whether this situation applies to you.
Can I file an amended return myself?
People with simple tax situations and small changes might be able to file an amended tax return on their own. Many major tax software packages include features that will file an amended tax return. Many tax preparers are happy to file amended returns as well. If you're amending your federal tax return, note that could mean having to amend your state tax return, too.
You can file up to three amended tax returns electronically, but note that if you’re fixing more than one year of returns, you’ll need to fill out a separate Form 1040-X for each.
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Will my tax preparer amend my return for me?
If you used a human tax preparer, don’t assume they will amend your tax return for free or pay the extra taxes, interest or penalties because of a mistake. For example, if you forgot to give the preparer information or gave incorrect information, you’ll likely have to pay for the extra work. If the error is the preparer’s fault, it's still not a sure bet that they'll pay for the amended return. That may depend on the wording in your client agreement.
Will the IRS know if I don't amend my return?
Generally, the IRS audits only tax returns from the previous three tax years — though there are major exceptions. It might be tempting to wait and see if the IRS will catch you in an error, but it might be cheaper to fess up sooner rather than later.
The IRS charges interest and penalties on outstanding tax liabilities going all the way back to the original due date of the tax payment. So the longer you wait to fix a mistake, the more expensive that mistake can get.