Tips for Taxpayers Who Have to Amend a Tax Return

Taxpayers who discover they made mistakes or omissions on their tax return can correct them by filing an amended tax return. Arkansas Asset Builders may be able to help you file an amended return, whether or not you filed your original return with us. Those who need to amend should remember these tips:

  • File using paper form. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct the tax return. Taxpayers can’t file amended returns electronically. They can obtain the form on Mail the Form 1040X to the address listed in the form’s instructions.
  • Amend to correct errors. File an amended tax return to correct errors or make changes to an original tax return; for example, taxpayers should amend to change their filing status or to correct their income, deductions or credits.
  • Don’t amend for math errors, missing forms. Taxpayers generally don’t need to file an amended return to correct math errors on their original return. The IRS will automatically correct these items. In addition, taxpayers don’t need to file an amended return if they forgot to attach tax forms, such as a Form W-2 or a schedule. The IRS will mail a request to the taxpayer, if needed.
  • File within three-year time limit. Taxpayers usually have three years from the date they filed the original tax return to file Form 1040X to claim a refund. Taxpayers can file it within two years from the date they paid the tax, if that date is later.
  • Use separate forms for each year. Taxpayers who are amending more than one tax return must file a Form 1040X for each tax year. They should mail each year’s Form 1040X in separate envelopes to avoid confusion. Taxpayers should check the box for the calendar year or enter the other calendar year or fiscal year they are amending. The form’s instructions have the mailing address for the amended return.
  • Attach other forms with changes. Taxpayers who use other IRS forms or schedules to make changes must attach them to the Form 1040X.
  • Wait to file for corrected refund for tax year 2017. Taxpayers who are due refunds from their original tax year 2017 return should wait to get it before filing Form 1040X to claim an additional refund. Amended returns may take up to 16 weeks to process.
  • Pay additional tax. Taxpayers who will owe more tax should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible to avoid penalties and interest. They should consider using IRS Direct Pay to pay any tax directly from a checking or savings account at no cost.
  • Track amended return. Generally, taxpayers can track the status of their amended tax return three weeks after they file, using ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ It’s available in English, Spanish, Chinese, Korean, Vietnamese and Russian. The tool can track the status of an amended return for the current year and up to three previous years. Taxpayers who have filed amended returns for multiple years can check each year, one at a time.

If you would like help preparing an amended return, please contact us at (501)503-2123 to schedule an appointment with a certified volunteer tax preparer. If you did not originally file your return with us, you will need to bring a complete copy of the original return and all supporting documents (W-2s, 1099s, etc.) in order for us to prepare the amended return.

2 thoughts on “Tips for Taxpayers Who Have to Amend a Tax Return

  1. Thank you for helping me to understand that it is important to amend your taxes when you need to change your filing status. My wife and I got married about two months ago, and I would like to change my filing status on my taxes. I don’t want to mess anything up, so I think I will hire a professional to help me with it.

    1. I’m glad that this post was helpful! Just to clarify about changes in filing status, these only apply to the year of the tax return that was filed. For example, you may have filed separately from your spouse in 2018 but later realize that you would benefit from a larger total refund by filing jointly. You could amend your 2018 tax return to change from Married Filing Separately to Married Filing Jointly.

      Here’s another example: suppose you are not married and have no children, but support an aging parent with more than 50% of their housing and living expenses. You may have filed Single in 2019 because you did not realize that you could claim your parent as qualifying person for Head of Household status. You could amend your 2019 tax return to change from Single to Head of Household filing status and add your parent as a dependent if you did not already include them on your return.

      In your case, if you got married in 2020, you would not be eligible to file jointly with your new spouse in any previous year. Next year when you file your 2020 return you will be able to file either jointly or separately with your spouse. But you should not amend your 2019 return or any previously filed return to reflect a married status unless you were actually married to your spouse as of Dec 31 of that year.

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