Is it necessary to amend a tax return? We get this question a lot.
Many people realize they messed up their federal tax return after they have already submitted it. It can make you panic and become a little scared that someone is going to come and report you to the “tax police”.
Don’t panic! We’ve got you covered. We will go over everything you need to know about amending your tax return.
Do I Even Need to Amend My Tax Return?
The first question you need to ask yourself is “Did I make an error when filling my taxes?” If you did, don’t panic—it happens! If you made a clerical error or an error in your math, the IRS may fix those errors for you without needing an amended return. Sometimes the IRS will accept the return when there are missing required forms or schedules completed—-many times the IRS will fix it themselves or contact you for the needed information!
You will need to file an amended return if your error has to do with your filing status, your income deductions, or your tax credits. An Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return is called Form 1040X. Unfortunately, this form must be filed via snail mail. (Form 1040X can be used to correct Form 1040, Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, Form 1040NR, Form 1040NR-EZ.)
How Long Do I Have to File an Amended Return?
You have three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years after the date you paid the tax—whichever date is later, to file Form 1040X if you are claiming a refund. Many times your amended return will result in you getting back even more money! YAY!!!! We recommend waiting for your original refund to be deposited before filing the amended return to avoid any confusion—but don’t wait longer than the 3 year mark.
What if I filed my return earlier or later than it was due?
If you filed your original return earlier than it was due—the IRS considers that as filing on the due date (typically April 15). For example, if you filed your return on March 2, 2018 you would have until April 15, 2021 to file an amended return.
If you used an extension but filed earlier than the extended date—the IRS counts from the day you filed not the extension date. For example, if the extension was for October 15, 2018 but you filed on July 15, 2018—you would have 3 years from July 15, 2018 to file the amended return.
How Long Does It Take to Process My Amended Return?
Unfortunately, it can take up to 16 weeks to process an amended return. This is because it cannot be submitted electronically and is processed by a real person.
How Can I Check the Status of My Amended Return?
We understand that it can be a little scary to file an amended return and you want to know everything you can as soon as you can. Luckily the IRS created an online tool you can use to help check your form’s status. Click here to access the IRS online tool. Sometimes it can take up to 3 weeks for the amended return to show up in the IRS system. Once the system updates with your return, you will be able to check on it using the link above.
What Info Is Needed In Order to Check the Status of My Amended Return?
To access the online tool, you will need:
- Your date of birth
- Your social security number
- Your zip code
What is the Phone Number to Call for Amended Tax Returns?
We understand that sometimes it is just easier to talk to a real human! The IRS has a toll-free number: 866-464-2050. Make sure to wait the 3 weeks after mailing the amended return before calling the IRS.
Where Do I Send My Amended Tax Return?
The mailing address varies depending on where you live. An amended return must be sent through the mail (not filed electronically). You can look up the address on page 18 of the IRS’ instructions.
What if I owe money? How Do I Pay?
We know this isn’t ideal but sometimes it does happen because of the changes on your amended return. Luckily though, you can pay online by using the IRS Direct Pay system or The Electronic Federal Tax Payment System. If you don’t have the money to pay the whole amount right now, then you can look into setting up a payment plan with the IRS.
Is There a Penalty for Filing an Amended Tax Return?
You do not have to pay a fee to the IRS to file an amended return. If you owe the IRS money and catch the error before April 15, you will not have to pay any additional fees. If you catch the error after April 15, you will have to pay a penalty and interest on the money you owe. If you think you owe money, make sure to pay ASAP because it will continue to be penalized every day you do not pay.
Why Is This Taking So Long?
In a perfect world we wouldn’t have to wait but the IRS can get pretty backed up—especially during tax season. If it has been 16 weeks since you mailed your amended return and you haven’t heard anything there could be various reasons why it is taking so long. Some of those reasons could include:
- Errors on your form
- Missing or incomplete areas on the form (the IRS will contact you)
- No signature on form (this happens more than you think)
- Additional information is needed to process the form
- Your form includes a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation
- Your form is affected by identity theft or fraud
- Your form had to be routed to a specialized area
- Your form needs clearance by the bankruptcy area within the IRS
- Your form needs review and approval by a revenue office
- You have asked for a review of an appeal or requested a reconsideration of an IRS decision
Many people get nervous that amending a return causes a red flag to go up for the IRS—which could cause an audit. Luckily there is no evidence that filing an amended return will trigger an audit. Check out our blog post for more info on audit flags.
What Happens If You Don’t Amend an Incorrect Tax Return?
You could potentially miss out on some money if the error caused your return to be lower. However, if you owe the IRS more money, they have up to 3 years (even longer in some situations) to catch your error. When you owe the IRS money–it can be charged interest when not paid right away. This could result in you owing even more money than if you had just filed an amended return as soon as you noticed the mistake.
Is It Better to Amend a Return or File a Tax Extension?
Amending a return and filing an extension are not the same process. An extension allows you additional time for filing a return whereas amending a return is an opportunity to fix an error you made on a return you already filed.
What If I Need to File an Amended Form for More Than One Year?
You would need to file a Form 1040X for each year you would like to amend.
What About My State Taxes?
Unfortunately if you made a mistake on your federal return you probably also made a mistake on your state return as well. You will need to check with your state’s agency to see how to amend that form.
What If I Still Have Questions?
We are here to help you! Please don’t hesitate to contact us. The worst thing you can do is wait if you think you made a mistake!