How to Amend Your Federal Tax Return If You Made a Mistake
Tax Tips for Filing IRS Form 1040X
Did you make a mistake on your Federal tax return that you need to correct?
First, you should know that not all errors require an amended tax return (IRS Form 1040X). If you made a mistake in the math, most likely the IRS will correct it without any action needed on your part. Additionally, if you forgot to include certain forms or schedules, it may not be necessary to amend your return because the IRS will contact you in writing to request the missing documents. It is important to be aware that, as a rule, the IRS will never contact you over the phone or via email. So you should not give out personal information over the phone or by email to anyone claiming to be with the IRS.
In some cases, however, it may become necessary to amend your Federal income tax return. You must file an amended return (Form 1040X) if there has been a change in your filing status, income, tax deductions, or tax credits reported on your original return. There are other reasons for amending a return as well. For example, you may not have had complete information at the time you filed. Or, you may have been unaware that a certain item was taxable and then you received a reporting document indicating otherwise.
If you think you may owe taxes when April 15 comes around, it is preferable to file a timely return knowing you will have to amend it, just so that you can pay the tax due on time and minimize the interest and penalties.
How to Amend a Tax Return That You Filed
The procedure for filing an amended return is relatively straightforward. Note that you can only file an amended return after you’ve filed your original return. Additionally, you cannot e-file an amended return — you will have to mail it in. To begin, you will need IRS Form 1040X (Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return).
Form 1040X contains 3 columns. In Column A, you’ll need to provide the amounts you entered on the original tax return. In Column C, you must provide the corrected figures. In Column B, enter the “net change” from Column A to Column C, which is the difference between the two amounts. On the second page of the form, you must explain each change, taking care to make the information as complete as you can (so the IRS can process your amended return as quickly as possible).
Here’s what you’ll need to mail to the IRS:
1. On the top of Form 1040X, indicate the tax year that you are amending. Note that you’ll need to file a separate Form 1040X for each year that must be amended, and each Form 1040X has to be mailed in a separate envelope. It is advisable to send the form by certified mail in order to be able to prove timely filing.
2. If it turns out that you owe additional tax, you can pay via check, money order, credit card, debit card, or EFTPS (Electronic Federal Tax Payment System). To pay by check or money order, include your payment in the envelope with your amended return — but do not attach your payment to Form 1040X. To pay electronically (by credit card, debit card, or EFTPS), visit the “Payment Options” section of the IRS website.
3. Remember to include a copy of the tax return that you are amending (such as your 2012 Form 1040). You must provide copies of any previously filed forms or schedules that are affected by your changes, which may also include W-2 Forms that you received after filing the original return. Arrange these copies in order of the “Attachment Sequence No.” (shown at the upper right corner of the form/schedule) behind Form 1040X.
[NOTE: Taxpayers other than individuals may be required to file other forms and follow different procedures in order to amend a Federal tax return.]
When to File an Amended Return
Form 1040X should only be filed after you’ve submitted your original tax return. Note that it generally takes up to 12 weeks for the IRS to process a Form 1040X. You can check the status of your amended return by calling 1-866-464-2050, or by visiting IRS.gov and clicking on “Tools” and then “Where’s My Amended Return.”
If you’re seeking a tax refund or credit, you must file Form 1040X within 3 years (including tax extensions) after the date you filed your original return, or 2 years after you paid the tax, whichever is later. The bad news is that if you owe tax after the original payment deadline, you will now also owe interest and penalties.
In addition to amending your Federal tax return, it’s also usually necessary to file an amended State return to report the Federal changes. In most cases, you should file an amended State return as quickly as possible in order to minimize the interest and penalties for any State tax balance due, or to expedite your State tax refund.
For more information about amended returns, please refer to the IRS Instructions for Form 1040X.