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Published: February 8, 2022   |   Last Updated: February 13, 2022

Amending a Tax Return

If you file your individual tax return and then realize you made a mistake, you can change your tax return. Usually this involves filing Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to report changes to your income, deductions or credits. You may also be able to make certain changes to your filing status.

What do I need to know?

If you realize there was a mistake on your return, you can amend it using Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

For example, a change to your filing status, income, deductions, credits, or tax liability means you need to amend your return. Or, IRS may have made an adjustment to your return, and sent you a notice that you disagree with. If so, you would file an amended return to change the amounts adjusted by IRS. If you’re unsure if you should file an amended return, you can use this tax tool to help you decide.

You can also amend your return to claim a carryback due to a loss or unused credit. In this case, you may be able to use Form 1045, Application for Tentative Refund instead of Form 1040-X, which will generally, result in a quicker refund.

Generally, in order for IRS to be able to issue a refund, you must amend your return within three years (including extensions) after the date you filed your original return or within two years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. However, there are exceptions to the rule in some situations, such as:

  • Financial disability,
  • Federally declared disasters,
  • Combat zones,
  • Bad debts,
  • Worthless securities,
  • Foreign tax credit or deduction,
  • Loss or credit carryback, and
  • Disaster-related grants

When you file Form 1040-X for a tax year, it becomes your new tax return for that year.  It changes your original return to include new information.

If the IRS finds mistakes like a math error or missing schedule before you do, you’ll get an IRS notice. The notice will tell you about the error and what information (if any) you need to submit to the IRS to correct it. See Incorrect Tax Return for more information. When the IRS sends you a notice about errors, there are usually other ways to correct errors besides an amended tax return.

If all you need to do is change your address, IRS.gov’s Address Changes page lists all available options.

Amending multiple returns

If you’re changing your tax returns for multiple tax years and filing by paper mail an IRS Form 1040-X for each year separately.

IMPORTANT: If you receive a notice that the IRS needs more information to process your amended tax return, send that information to the address on the notice within the time given to help speed up the processing.

You can resolve most mistakes on your own, but you can also get the help of a professional – either the person who prepared your tax return, or another tax professional.

Tips on how to choose a tax professional

Check the status of your amended return

You can check the status of your Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return using the “Where’s My Amended Return?” online tool or the toll-free telephone number (866) 464-2050 three weeks after you file your amended tax return. Both methods are available in English and Spanish and track the status of amended tax returns for the current year and up to three prior years.

Please keep in mind that due to Coronavirus processing delays, amended returns may take longer than three weeks to appear in IRS’ system and up to 20 weeks to process. Before that time, there’s no need to call IRS unless the online tool specifically tells you to do so.

REMINDER: The Where’s My Refund online tool is different from the Where’s My Amended Return online tool and it cannot provide any information on Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

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What should I do?

Before filing an amended tax return:

  • If you’re not sure what amounts your original return showed or you want to see any adjustments the IRS may have made, you should get a transcript.
  • Verify the information the IRS has on file for you matches the tax year information you’re amending.
      • For a record of your tax return, request a tax return transcript.
      • For a record of any adjustments the IRS may have made to your account, in addition to the amounts reported on your original return, get a Record of Account.

Gather your documents such as a copy of the return you are amending, all IRS Forms W-2 or W-2C, IRS Forms 1099 or 1099C, etc. that support the changes you wish to make. Be sure to keep copies for your records.

  • Review and follow all the Form 1040-X Instructions before submitting your amended tax return. Be sure to read the “Special Situations” section for instances that have special conditions or rules you need to follow.

Filing an amended tax return

If you need to amend your 2019, 2020 and 2021 Forms 1040 or 1040-SR you can do so electronically using available tax software products, as long as you e-filed the original return. You should contact your preferred tax software provider to verify their participation and for specific instructions needed to submit your amended return and to answer any questions. Amended returns for other years must be filed by paper.

To file your amended tax return:

  • Use a Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
  • Attach/include copies of all forms and schedules that you’re changing.
  • If filing by paper, mail all documents using the “Where to File” information in the IRS Form 1040-X Instructions. Generally, unless there’s a special situation or you’re submitting your form in response to an IRS notice, send it to the same IRS address where you filed your original return.
  • If you owe a balance, make a payment with the amended tax return, if possible. If you can’t make partial or full payment, there may be other options.
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How will this affect me?

Your state tax amount may be affected by changes on your federal tax return. For information on how to correct your state tax return, contact your state tax agency.

The normal processing time for Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is between 8 and 12 weeks from the time the IRS receives your tax return. However, in some cases, processing could take up to 16 weeks. Due to COVID-19 return processing timeframes may be longer. Check IRS.gov for updated timeframes.

If you owe a balance from the changes on your amended tax return and it is before the original due date of your individual tax return (generally April 15 of each year), file Form 1040-X, and pay the tax by the due date for that year (without regard to any extension of time to file) to avoid penalties and interest. In other words, if you file and pay after the original due date of your individual tax return, the IRS may charge interest and penalties.

The IRS won’t process your amended tax return if:

  • You don’t attach all the forms and schedules you’re changing.
  • The amounts from column A on Form 1040-X don’t match the IRS’s records, whether column A is “as originally filed” or “as previously adjusted.”  It’s important to review a transcript of your account to verify the amounts shown on your original return and/or any adjustments the IRS may have made to avoid this mistake (this is where most errors occur).

Under the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes (PATH) Act, you cannot file a past-due return or an amended return to claim the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Child Tax Credit (CTC), Additional Child Tax Credit (ACTC), or the American Opportunity Credit (AOTC), if the reason you’re filing is because the required Taxpayer Identification Number (TIN) wasn’t issued on or before the due date of the return (including a valid extension), but you have it now.

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Wait, I still need help.

The Taxpayer Advocate Service is an independent organization within the IRS that helps taxpayers and protects taxpayers’ rights. We can offer you help if your tax problem is causing a financial difficulty, you’ve tried and been unable to resolve your issue with the IRS, or you believe an IRS system, process, or procedure just isn’t working as it should. If you qualify for our assistance, which is always free, we will do everything possible to help you.

Visit www.taxpayeradvocate.irs.gov or call 1-877-777-4778.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent from the IRS and TAS. LITCs represent individuals whose income is below a certain level and who need to resolve tax problems with the IRS. LITCs can represent taxpayers in audits, appeals, and tax collection disputes before the IRS and in court. In addition, LITCs can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Services are offered for free or a small fee. For more information or to find an LITC near you, see the LITC page on the TAS website or Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.

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