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10 Tax Tips for Filing an Amended Return

Updated for Tax Year 2015


OVERVIEW

Say you happily filed your tax return by the end of February and were the envy of all your friends, but in June you realized you forgot to include income from last summer's freelance job. Don’t worry, all you need to do is file an amended return using Form 1040X.


1. When to Use Form 1040X

Senior woman using laptop computer

You can file Form 1040X to amend a previously filed tax return that used one of these forms:

You will be able to correct any mistakes, including:

  • Filing status
  • Exemptions
  • Income
  • Deductions or credits

2. Not All Mistakes Require an Amended Return

You do not need to file a 1040X if your original return contains math errors or is simply missing forms, such as a W-2. The IRS will usually correct and notify you about math errors and will notify you if it's missing any forms.

3. Health Insurance Marketplace Enrollees Take Note For 2014 Tax Returns

A Health Insurance Marketplace enrollee who meets these criteria may not have to file an amended return with a corrected Form 1095-A if:

  • You received your 1095-A for your 2014 tax return preparation in early 2015.
  • You prepared your 2014 tax return with the information contained on that 1095-A.
  • After filing the return, you were notified that the 1095-A you received was incorrect and that a corrected one would be sent to you.

Under a special tax relief program passed specifically for this issue, the IRS is excusing most taxpayers from having to amend their returns with a revised 1095-A. However, if the correct 1095-A form would have resulted in you paying fewer taxes or getting a refund, you should file an amended return.

4. Amended Return Timing

If the correction results in you owing money, file as soon as possible so you can minimize any penalties or interest that might be incurred. Although the IRS appreciates when taxpayers file an amended return to correct a mistake, they can still assess a penalty or charge interest for not paying the proper amount when the taxes were originally due.

If the correction results in a tax refund and you haven't received it yet, wait to file the amended return until after you've received it to avoid complications. But keep in mind that there is a time limit for filing an amended return resulting in a refund. You must file it within three years after you filed the original return, or within two years after you paid any tax due from that return — whichever is later.

5. Preparing an Amended Return

To complete a Form 1040X, you'll need:

  • A copy of the original tax return that's being amended
  • W-2s
  • Schedules
  • Worksheets
  • Corrected information and calculations
  • Any forms needed to support corrections

However, you should not include the original return with the 1040X.

Note: You cannot file a 1040X electronically.

6. Stating the Reason for the Amended Return

Form 1040X, Part III, asks you to explain in your own words why you are amending the return. This explanation should describe the specific corrections you're making and can be very brief. Reasons might include:

  • You forgot to claim the Child Tax Credit.
  • You received another, or corrected, W-2 form.
  • You forgot to deduct a charitable donation.

7. But Now I Owe Money

If you owe money as a result of the correction, you should include a check or money order with your 1040X submission. Although you cannot e-file the 1040X, you can pay the balance you owe online, using Direct Pay or the Electronic Federal Tax Payment System (EFTPS). If you can't pay right now, file the amended return and apply for an IRS Installment Plan.

8. Mailing Instructions

Each tax return you are amending requires its own Form 1040X mailed in a separate envelope. Mail the completed form to the appropriate address listed in the Form 1040X instructions.

9. After You Mail the 1040X

It takes about 16 weeks for the IRS to process an amended return. You can check its status on the IRS website after three weeks, or by calling the automated toll-free number 866-464-2050.

10. Amending Your State Tax Return

After submitting Form 1040X, check to see if your state tax form also needs to be amended. If so, obtain the proper form from your state's tax agency and use the information on the federal 1040X to help you fill it out. Be sure to attach a copy of your 1040X to your state amended return.

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The above article is intended to provide generalized financial information designed to educate a broad segment of the public; it does not give personalized tax, investment, legal, or other business and professional advice. Before taking any action, you should always seek the assistance of a professional who knows your particular situation for advice on taxes, your investments, the law, or any other business and professional matters that affect you and/or your business.


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