After filing an original return, you may discover that you made a mistake or omitted something on the tax return. Although the IRS often finds and corrects errors during the processing stage, you may need to correct and amend a return to correct a mistake or make other changes.
If you or your client discovers an error after filing a return, you may need to help amend the return. The IRS may correct math or clerical errors on a return, and may accept returns without certain required forms or schedules. In these cases, there’s no need to amend the return.
However, you’ll need to file an amended return if there is a change in your client’s filing status, income, deductions or credits. Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct a previously filed Form 1040, Form 1040A, Form 1040EZ, Form 1040NR or Form 1040NR-EZ, or to change amounts previously adjusted by the IRS. You can also use Form 1040X to make a claim for a carryback, due to a loss or unused credit; however, you may also be able to use Form 1045, Application for Tentative Refund, instead of Form 1040X. In addition, if Form 8938, Statement of Specified Foreign Financial Assets, applies to your client, file it with an annual return or an amended return. See Form 8938 Instructions for more information.
If your client owes additional tax for a tax year in which the due date for filing hasn’t passed, your client can avoid penalties and interest if Form 1040X is filed, and if the client pays the tax by the due date for that year, without regard to any extension of time to file. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday or legal holiday, filing the form and paying the tax is timely, if filed or paid the next business day. If filed after the unextended due date, the client should not include any interest or penalties on Form 1040X; they will be adjusted accordingly.
Generally, to claim a refund, Form 1040X must be filed within three years after the date of the original return, or within two years after the date the client paid the tax – whichever is later. Returns filed before the due date, without regard to extensions, are considered filed on the due date. Special rules apply for refund claims relating to net operating losses, foreign tax credits, bad debts and other issues. For more information about amending a return, refer to the Form 1040X Instructions and What If I Made a Mistake? in Chapter 1 of Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax for Individuals.
Note that you can’t file an amended tax return electronically under the e-file system. See Where To File in the Form 1040X Instructions for the address to mail the amended return, and file a separate Form 1040X for each tax year you’re amending. Mail each form in a separate envelope. Be sure to enter the year of the return you’re amending at the top of Form 1040X. The form has three columns:
- Column A shows original figures (the original return) or adjusted figures (prior amendments or exam changes).
- Column C shows the corrected figures (what they should be).
- Column B is the difference between Columns A and C. There’s an area on the back of the form to explain the specific changes you’re making and the reason for each change.
Attach copies of any forms or schedules affected by the change, including any W-2 Form(s) received after the original filing. You should also attach Form(s) W-2G and 1099 that support changes made on the return if there was income tax withheld.
You, or your client, can check the status of Form 1040X, using the Where’s My Amended Return? online tool, or by calling 866-464-2050 three weeks after the amended return is filed. Both tools are available in English and Spanish, and track the status of amended returns for the current year and up to three prior years.
Note that you need the client’s taxpayer identification number (usually the Social Security number), date of birth and ZIP code to prove the identity. Once authenticated, the web tool shows an illustrated graphic to visually communicate the status of the amended return within the processing stages: Received, Adjusted or Completed. As a reminder, amended returns take up to 16 weeks to process, and up to three weeks from the date of mailing to show up in the system. Before that time, there’s no need to call the IRS, unless the tool specifically tells you to do so.
Finally, a change made on your federal return may affect your client’s state tax liability. For information on how to correct your state tax return, contact the appropriate state tax agency.
Editor’s note: References to Forms 1040A and 1040EZ are restricted to tax years before 2018. Read how to amend returns in Intuit® ProConnect™ Tax Online, Lacerte® and ProSeries® with Form 1040X. This article was originally published on May 3, 2017, and republished with updates on April 11, 2019.