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A Step-by-Step Guide to Filing an Amended Tax Return Thumbnail

A Step-by-Step Guide to Filing an Amended Tax Return

There can be a lot of stress when we start to talk about taxes and the IRS. Luckily, tax season is over and you’ve received your tax return. Now you don’t have to think about it again until the new year, right?

Not exactly.

While that is a temping thought, now is a good time to evaluate your tax return for potential errors to see whether or not you have to file an amended tax return.

What Is An Amended Tax Return?

Though we religiously attempt to avoid them, mistakes happen - especially when filing taxes. An amended tax return is designed to offer you the opportunity to correct any errors that could have been made when filing. 

Sometimes these mistakes will result in the IRS owing you an additional refund check, like if you missed a sizable deduction or need to alter your dependents. Other times, you may be responsible for paying the IRS more than you paid upon the initial filing of your taxes, like if you did not report your income channels correctly. 

The expiration date for filing an amended tax return is 3 years after the original file date. That means if you don’t catch a mistake in the same tax year, you have time to correct it.

When Do You Need To File?

Knowing the process of filing an amended tax return can be quite beneficial as it can ensure you receive the money you are owed and it can also keep you out of hot water with the IRS. 

Cases where you receive money:

  • If you forgot to change your filing status. (if you are married and filed as single)
  • If you forgot to claim a deduction. (charity donation, etc.)

Cases where you owe money:

  • If you have listed too many dependents
  • If you did not correctly report all income generating channels

If you made a mistake in which the IRS owes you money, it is important that you file an amended tax return, as it keeps you in control of receiving the funds you are due. Keeping a close eye on your tax return is also fiscally important because it keeps you consciously aware of your finances.

How Do You File?

The process for filing an amended tax return isn’t as daunting as it may sound. However, there are some stringent rules to follow to ensure the process runs as smoothly as it can. It is important to note that all amended tax returns must be filed on paper. Even if you filed your taxes online, a paper document is required for the amendment. 

Be sure to collect all of your documents (your original tax return and all supporting documents for the amendment). These documents could include proof of a new deduction or including a W-2 you did not have when initially filing.

  • Pro Tip: You do not need to supply new forms for each section of your original tax return, you only need the forms for the areas you are seeking to amend.
  • Pro Tip: You do not need to amend any mathematical errors, as the IRS system can catch and fix those for you.

You will need to download and complete the current IRS version of a 1040x form. You need a 1040x form for every tax year you are amending. That means if you are filing a tax amendment for 2016 and 2017, you would need two separate 1040x forms.

Honesty is the best policy to abide by when filling out this form. Be as honest and clear as possible, so that the IRS won’t have a reason to slow down your claim. 

Lastly, you will mail all of the forms to the IRS. It is best to include all necessary documentation in one envelope, for example if you owe the IRS an additional payment be sure to include that so that you do not incur any additional fees or penalties. An amended tax return is not a quick process, therefore give the IRS 8-12 weeks to process the amendment.

Is There a Time Limit On Filing?

The short answer is yes, there is a limit on when you can file an amended tax return.

There’s a 3-year clock on filing an amended tax return or you can file it within 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever one is later. There may also be some special provisions for unique claims. Check out the 1040x instructions to make sure there are no additional time restrictions for your particular claim.

If you have any other questions or are feeling unsteady about filing an amended tax return, don’t hesitate to reach out. Our team at Quarry Hill would be more than happy to walk you through the ins and outs of filing your amended tax return!