Tips for Amending 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:

  • 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 or 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, you don’t need to file an amended return if you forgot to attach tax forms to your original return, such as a Form W-2 or a schedule. The IRS will mail a request to you, if needed.
  • Identify the correct tax year that you are amending. Taxpayers who are amending more than one tax return must file an amended return for each tax year.
  • File within three-year time limit. Taxpayers usually have three years from the date they filed the original tax return to file an amended return to claim a refund. Taxpayers can file it within two years from the date they paid the tax, if that date is later.
  • Choose how you want to file your amended return. Returns for tax year 2019 or later can be filed electronically, but you must use the same service provider who filed your original return. For example, if you filed your own return online and need to amend it, you will only be able to e-file your amended return through the same website (and it may require an additional fee). If you’re amending a return prior to 2019 or if you choose not to use the same service provider as the original return, you will need to mail Form 1040X to the IRS at the address for your state listed in the form’s instructions.
  • Sign your amended return and submit all required documents. Taxpayers who use other IRS forms or schedules to make changes must attach them to the Form 1040X if filing by mail. If filing multiple amended returns, send documents for each year in a separate envelope. All required forms will be included automatically if you e-file your amended return.
  • Wait until your original return is processed before amending. Taxpayers who are due refunds from their original return should wait to get the refund before filing Form 1040X to claim an additional refund. You can check the status of your original return using ‘Where’s My Refund?‘ on the IRS website.
  • Pay additional tax. Taxpayers who will owe more tax with their amended return should pay the tax as soon as possible to avoid penalties and interest. You 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 beginning three weeks after they file using ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ on the IRS website. This 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. Amended returns may take up to 6 months for the IRS to process.

If you would like help preparing an amended return, please contact us by phone or email 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 Amending 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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