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7 Things to Know When Filing an Amended Tax Return

Things toThings to Know When Filing an Amended Tax Return (Form 1040X) - TaxAct Blog Know When Filing an Amended Tax Return (Form 1040X) - TaxAct Blog

From time to time, we all need a “do over” – even when it comes to our tax returns. Fortunately, if you’ve made a mistake on your original return or missed claiming a deduction or credit, the IRS has a solution. It’s called Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Filing an amended return doesn’t have to be difficult. Plus, using TaxAct makes it even easier. If you’re considering filing Form 1040X, here are a few important points to remember.

Don’t file another complete tax return to make a correction.

If you’ve filed your tax return and notice you forgot a deduction or credit, your first inclination may be to send a new tax return and tell the IRS to ignore the old one. But, that’s not the right answer.

Whether you’ve hit the button to e-file your return or dropped a hard copy in the mail, once you file your original income tax return that’s considered your return for the applicable tax year.

You can only file a complete tax return with all schedules and attachments once. You can make amendments, but you can’t start over.

Use Form 1040X to amend your return.

Instead of sending an entirely new tax return, you must use Form 1040X to change any incorrect items.

Additionally, you may need to include updated versions of any forms or schedules you originally included if the changes you make have an impact on those documents.

Keep in mind, you should only include the corrected forms or schedules with Form 1040X. Do not attach copies of forms or schedules that stayed the same.

You cannot e-file an amended return.

Unfortunately, e-filing an amended return is not an option. You must print and mail Form 1040X, along with any corrected forms and/or schedules.

If you received Form 1099 after you filed, and it includes income tax withheld, be sure to attach that form as well.

You may have to file amended returns for more than one year.

Sometimes, a change on one year’s return changes a portion of another year’s return.

For example, some credits can be carried forward or backward to other years. If the credit you claim for one year changes, you may need to amend another year too.

Amending a federal return may mean filing an amended state return.

State returns start with information from your federal return. If you live in a state with a state income tax, you generally must amend both returns.

Be sure to contact your state department of revenue or tax agency for guidance on what you need to do.

You have limited time to amend and receive a refund.

Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the time you originally filed or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.

If you need to amend more than one tax return, you’ll need to complete a separate Form 1040X for each.

Some amended returns are not necessary.

There are some cases when filing an amended return is not necessary – even if you find small tax receipts a year later or remember a trip that should have been counted as deductible mileage.  If the change won’t affect the amount of tax you owe, it’s not necessary to amend your return.

In other cases, you may not need to file an amended return because the IRS fixed your original return for you.

If you receive a letter stating the IRS has found a mistake or made a change on your return, and you agree to the changes, you do not need to file an amended return.

However, you should always correct Social Security numbers if they are wrong even if no other part of the return is incorrect.

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About Sally Herigstad

Sally Herigstad is a certified public accountant and personal finance columnist and author of Help! I Can't Pay My Bills, Surviving a Financial Crisis (St. Martin's Griffin). She writes regularly at,,, RedPlum, and MSN Money. She is an experienced speaker and a member of Toastmasters International. Follow Sally on Twitter.