Amending a Prior Tax Return

Each year taxpayers miss important tax credits or deductions. Sometimes, they select the wrong filing status or forget to report a portion of their income. Fortunately, a taxpayer can go back, amend, and re-file previously filed returns.

Currently, taxpayers have three years from the original date of the return (or two years from when the taxes were paid if that is later) to amend a return. For example, on a 2012 return filed April 15th, 2013, the opportunity to amend it ends April 15, 2016.

If the error was a failure to claim a credit or missed deduction on the original filing, the taxpayer must decide if they want to invest the time to amend the return. However, if the error was failing to report income, filing under the wrong status, or other errors minimizing the original amount of taxes due, the individual is advised to seriously consider amending the return, as these mistakes are likely to trigger an audit.

Taxpayers who wish to take steps towards updating a return must file a 1040X Form (amending document for personal taxes). Copies of this form can be found at the Internal Revenue Service's website.

Amended returns are not accepted via e-file, so at this time, to start an amended return using our website, you will need to use our service which connects individuals with professional tax preparers. While an amended filing is usually something a taxpayer hires a preparer to assist with, if you plan to complete this yourself here are a few notes for your reference:

Start by printing the form and collecting all the previously used paperwork from the return you wish to amend. You will also want to have your supporting documentation for what you are changing/adding with the amendment. The steps you will need to follow in filling out the form can vary depending on what the change being reported is. In general, however, the 1040X will require you to calculate and show the difference between your original taxes and the corrected ones.

Furthermore, you will need to provide proof of the changes that you are making. For example, if you are adding a W2, be sure to attach a copy of it when you file your amended form. In addition to attaching copies of supporting documents, you will also find spaces on this form where you will need to submit, in writing, your explanation for the changes. Make sure to include your refund/balance paid, along with a copy of the original return. Also, be sure that any forms, documents, and payments submitted have both your name and social security number on them before you send.

Once you have completely filled this out, take a few minutes to double check that all new calculations are correct.

There are different mailing addresses based on your location. The specific address where you should send yours can be found on the accompanying instructions document, here. Be prepared for a wait, amendments can take longer than regular returns to process, sometimes taking a few weeks before all the changes are completely accounted for.

Please note, amendments are only necessary when a return has already been accepted and needs to be corrected. For information on correcting a return when it has been rejected see Procedure for Correcting a Rejected Return, here.

Where’s My Amended Return?

Taxpayers can check the status of a Form 1040X for the current year as well as up to three years prior using the Where’s My Amended Return tool on the IRS website. To utilize this, the taxpayer will need to provide their Social Security number, date of birth, and zip code. Responses from this tool will be one of the following: received, adjusted (which may result in a refund, balance due, or no change), or completed (in which case all correspondences relating to the return has been mailed to the taxpayer). It can take up to three weeks to appear in the system, and processing can take up to sixteen weeks.

Some types of amended returns cannot be traced using the online tool. These include carryback applications and claims, Form 843 (Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement), injured spouse claims, a Form 1040 marked as amended or corrected, a return with a foreign address, and business returns.