Amending or changing, a return can help ensure that a taxpayer receives their full refund or pays the proper amount of taxes. Occasionally, it is necessary to file an amended tax return for items such as changing a filing status, adjusting income and/or adding deductions or credits. It is not always necessary to file an amended return for items such as clerical or mathematical errors, as these are usually corrected by the IRS during processing.
How Far Back Can I Amend?
Generally, the IRS allows a taxpayer to amend their return within three years from the day that it was filed or within two years from the date the tax owed was paid, whichever is later. Taxpayers should wait until they receive their refund prior to filing an amendment.
Amending a return that increases what the taxpayer owes can lead to additional interest and possible penalties. Amending a return to take advantage of a credit or deduction (decreasing the taxable liability) will not result in additional interest and penalties.
What Form Should I Use?
To correct a previously filed Form 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ or 1040NR you will need to file a 1040X. Amended returns cannot be filed electronically and must be mailed and thus are not available through the software provided on this website. If you are filing amendments for more than one tax year, each year should have its own 1040X, and you should mail each form in a separate envelope through certified mail.
When you mail your amended return, you should also attach copies of any forms or schedules that would affect the amendments you made. For example, this would include any 1099 forms that you received after you filed your original return.
Amending your federal tax return may also change your liability for state taxes. If your state collects income tax it is also recommended that you amend your state return as well as federal. Note that amended returns can take up to 16 weeks to process.
Checking the Status of an Amended Return
The IRS has created a tool called "Where's My Amended Return?" to help taxpayers check the status online. You can also call the IRS toll free at 866-464-2050 to check the status of your returns starting three weeks after filing. Both of these methods allow taxpayers to track the status of amended returns for the current tax year and also for up to three tax years prior. In order to use either of these methods, you will need your Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, your date of birth, and your zip code.