How to File an Amended Income Tax Return (Form 1040X)

What happen if you’ve sent in your income tax return and then discover you made a mistake? If you’ve made an error on your tax return after sending it in, you do have the ability to correct it using an amended tax form. For the IRS, this is the Form 1040X (and your locality also has the equivalent form and procedure). Filing an amended income tax return is not a complicated process, but it is an important to know which errors could be corrected with the form and which could not. This article will outline everything you need to know about filing an amended tax return.

Photo by Casey Serin via Flickr

What Constitutes the Need for Amendments?

An amended income tax return should be filed if you need to fix your:

  • filing status,
  • the amount of income,
  • your tax deductions, or
  • tax credits.

An amended tax return is not for fixing any mistakes you have made in your math. When the IRS receives your original tax filing, their computers will search for and document any mistakes you made in calculating your numbers. Specific situations that requires you to file an amendment include:

  • To claim additional dependents or to remove claimed dependents
  • To report an incorrect filing status
  • To report additional income from new statements of income (W2 and 1099)
  • To report changes with standard deductions, itemized deductions, or above-the-line deductions
  • To change the number of personal exemptions
  • To claim additional tax credits or removed credits taken in error
  • To report additional withholdings from a 1099 or W2

How to File an Amended Tax Return

You will need to use the IRS Form 1040X as well as a new Form 1040 and any other necessary schedules appropriate for your income tax filing. In order to file an amended return, you must mail them as paper documents as it is the only method the IRS currently uses for processing amended paperwork. You can use softwares such as TurboTax or H&R Block to complete the form electronically, but you are still required to print out the forms and mail them in.

It will typically take about 8-12 weeks for the IRS to process your documents but keep in mind during the peak times for the IRS, it can take longer.

What Is the Time Period?

Taxpayers have three years to make any adjustments that will produce additional refunds. The IRS imposes a three year statute of limitations for the issuance of refund checks. The date of calculation on the statute of limitations will start from the date your original tax return was filed. If it was filed prior to April 15th, you should start the clock from the April 15th date. In the event you filed through an extension, you have to start the clock running from October 15th per the IRS code.

For those who discover inaccurate or incomplete tax filings after the three year period has expired, you will only be able to seek a refund on overpaid taxes paid during the previous two years. However, if you need to report any additional income and fix deductions that were overstated, you are able to file an amended return at any time. The IRS allows for a three year time period to conduct an audit on taxpayers returns. If there is significant under reporting of income, the IRS may have a longer period of time to conduct the audit.

Tips For Preparing an Amended Tax Return

  • The Form 1040X is a generic one that can be used for any tax year so you’ll need to make note of the tax year you are amending at the time of the form.
  • If you are filing amendments on several tax years, you need to complete a Form 1040x for each individual year.
  • Before completing your documentation, take a trial run by completing extra forms and double-checking your math and information. When you are sure it is correct, fill in the blank forms neatly and completely and use these documents to submit to the IRS.
  • If you are expecting a refund now that you have done an amended return, you can request the refund check or have the amount applied to next year’s estimated taxes. The form will have an option redirecting your refund to the tax year of your choosing on Line 22.
  • In the event your recalculations show you had received too big of a refund the first time around, you will need to pay back the difference.
  • Be sure the amended return is signed and dated. Send the forms to your IRS office via US mail using a return receipt confirmation to ensure it was received and document the date you had sent in the amended return should you need such proof in the future.

About the Author

By , on Jan 13, 2011
Tisha Tolar
Tisha Tolar is a co-owner of Trifecta Strategies, LLC and the author of Gen X. When she is not busy being a fiction writer, she writes personal finance articles for several web sites, including

2013 Tax Center

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2013 Important Tax and Filing Dates

Leave Your Comment (2 Comments)

  1. Joe Worker says:

    I am being audited by the IRS for 2008 and they are claiming my income number should be higher.
    If we use a higher income number am I able to change my
    SEP-401K contribution for 2008?

  2. Miss T says:

    Thanks for the tips. We had to file for a correction this past year. Gosh they took forever to finally get back to us. All is good now though. Just wish I got better service from the revenue agency.

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