You’ve just pushed “E-File” from your tax software, and you feel great knowing you’re done dealing with the big bad IRS for the year. Two months later, you review your bank statements and paychecks and you realize … You’ve made a mistake! It’s the end of the world! Not really.
If you’ve made a mistake on your tax return but don’t realize it until after filing, the IRS allows you to amend your return to correct it. Need to change your filing status? Amend it. Forgot to include a source of income? Amend it. Left off a deduction that will bring down your taxable income? Amend it!
Mathematical or Clerical Errors on Your Tax Return
However, if you’ve made a mathematical or clerical error, you may not need to amend your return—the IRS will do it for you. Sometimes, tax returns missing required forms or schedules are accepted by the IRS. Technically, you would not be required to amend.
HOWEVER, do you really want to leave it up to the IRS to take care of the mistake? My advice is to amend your return even if the IRS should technically correct it for you—unless you have full faith in the IRS to amend it properly and aren’t worried about making an assumption that the IRS should correct it for you and then waking up one day with a dreaded IRS notice in the mail telling you that YOU made the mistake and now you’re being audited.
To amend a tax return including Form 1040, Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, Form 1040NR, and Form 1040NR-EZ, or to revise numbers already adjusted by the IRS, you must follow specific procedures to prepare the amendment properly. Complete Form 1040X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return and mail the paper return, regardless of whether the original return was filed on paper or electronically.
The paper return should be mailed to the address in the instructions that accompany Form 1040X; however, if you’re filing the amended return in response to a notice received from the IRS, the return should be mailed to the address listed on the notice.
Attach copies of any forms or schedules affected by the change, including any Form(s) W-2 received after the original filing. You should also attach Form(s) W-2G and 1099 that support changes made on the return (if there was income tax withheld).
Amendments for Multiple Years
If you’re amending tax returns for more than one year, you’ll need to send separate envelopes for each Form 1040X.
You should note that if you’re receiving a refund from your original return, you should wait for the refund before filing the amended return. The refund received from the original return can be cashed before receiving any increased refund that will be received after filing the amended return.
Also remember that a change made on your federal return may affect your state tax liability.
When to File
Generally, to claim a refund, you must file Form 1040X within three years of the date you filed your original return or within two years of the date you paid the tax—whichever is later. Returns filed before the due date (without regard to extensions) are considered filed on the due date. Separate rules apply for refunds.
But remember that to claim a refund, you must file a Form 1040X within three years of the date you filed the original return (assuming it was filed on time) or, alternatively, within two years of the date on which you pay the tax, depending on which date is later.
When There’s a Balance Due
When filing an amended return that will result in an increase in taxes owed, make sure to file Form 1040X and pay the additional tax owed as soon as possible in order to limit interest and penalties.
If you owe additional tax for a tax year for which the due date for filing hasn’t passed, you can avoid penalties and interest if you file Form 1040X and pay the tax by the filing due date for that year (without regard to any extension of time to file).
If you file after the unextended due date, don’t include any interest or penalties on Form 1040X; the IRS will adjust these.
Checking the Status of your Amended Return
You can begin to track the status of your amended return within three weeks of mailing, but the return may take as long as sixteen weeks to be processed by the IRS. To track your amended return, use the Where’s My Amended Return (WMAR) tool found online or call 866-464-2050.
Before that time, there’s no need to call the IRS unless the tool specifically tells you to do so. You can confirm that the IRS received your amended return by using the WMAR tool, as well. But if you think calling the IRS will speed up the process, you’re wasting your time.
The WMAR tool is user-friendly, but it only utilizes a few very general status codes. If the status of your return states that your amended return is “received,” that means it’s received and it’s being processed. Again, this can take up to sixteen weeks.
When the WMAR tool shows your amended return as “adjusted,” the IRS has already made an adjustment to your account. This adjustment will result in a refund, balance due, or no change. But you still have to wait for the notice. If your amended return status shows it’s been “completed,” processing is complete and the IRS has already mailed all of the information to you.
Sometimes, it’s been longer than sixteen weeks since the IRS received your amended return, and it hasn’t been processed. You’re probably aware that the IRS is not exactly the most efficient unit, but technically, delays in processing may occur when the return needs further review due to the following issues:
- You’ve sent in an amended return with errors.
- You’ve sent in an amended return that’s incomplete.
- You’ve sent in an amended return that is not signed.
- The IRS has sent a notice to you requesting more information.
- You’ve sent in an amended return that includes a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation.
- Your amended return is the subject of identity theft or fraud.
Delays also occur when the IRS must do the following:
- Route your return to a specialized area
- Receive clearance by the bankruptcy area within the IRS
- Receive approval from a revenue office
- Review and appeal or request reconsideration of a previous IRS decision
The IRS will contact you if more information is needed.
Contact The W Tax Group
Contact our experienced tax attorneys at The W Tax Group to get your amended return issues handled properly. Call 1-877-500-4930 or complete the form below to schedule your free tax liability settlement analysis.