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Published: June 8, 2022   |   Last Updated: June 8, 2022

I Made a Mistake on My Taxes

You have many options on how to fix a mistake on your tax return depending on whether you received a notice and the kind of mistake you made.

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.

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, 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.

these time limits are automatically extended, allowing for more time to file an amended return.

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.

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What should I do?

After filing your tax return, you realize there was a mistake, but you haven’t received an IRS notice

If the due date for filing your tax return has passed, you can submit an amended tax return to correct most mistakes.

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.  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.

If you realize you made a mistake but the due date for filing hasn’t passed, don’t file an amended tax return. Instead, file another original tax return with your correct information.

You got an IRS notice about the IRS auditing your tax return

The IRS performs audits by mail or in person. The notice will have specific information on how you should proceed.

You got an IRS notice saying there was incorrect information on your tax return

This often happens before the tax return is fully processed – the IRS is giving you a chance to make a correction. The notice should explain the issue and how to respond to the IRS. See Incorrect Tax Returns for more information.

Note: If the change described in the IRS notice is different from what you think is incorrect, make sure you address both changes in your response.

The IRS made changes to your tax return, but now you have new information

If the IRS made changes to your tax return during processing, you can submit an amended tax return.

If the IRS made changes to the tax return because of an audit or an IRS assessment, you may need to request an audit reconsideration.

You didn’t file a tax return, but later realize you need to file one

Maybe you didn’t think you needed to file a tax return, but later got some new information that means you should file (like receiving a late Form 1099).

If you’re not sure if you need to file a tax return, try IRS Do I Need to File a Return tool.

If the IRS hasn’t sent you a notice about filing a tax return and you need to file one, go ahead and electronically file it if it’s for one of the three tax years before the current tax year. If the tax return is for a tax year older than that, then it has to be mailed to the IRS.

Note: Be sure to use the correct forms and mail it to the right IRS address for the specific tax year you need to file.

You didn’t file a tax return, and got an IRS notice stating that you needed to file

If you didn’t file a tax return by the due date, but IRS records show that you should have, you may get an IRS notice. You’ll either need to reply to the IRS and explain why you don’t need to file or submit your tax return.

If you don’t respond to the IRS’s notice, the IRS may file a tax return for you, called a Substitute for Return. If it does file a tax return for you and you disagree with the information the IRS used, you’ll need to follow audit reconsideration steps to correct it.

You just need to change your address

There are several ways to change your address – IRS.gov’s Address Changes page lists all available options.

Amended return status

You can check the status of your amended return using the Where’s My Amended Return? (WMAR) online tool or the toll-free telephone number 866-464-2050 three weeks after you file your amended return. 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.

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 tool specifically tells you to do so.  Do not file a second amended return.

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How will this affect me?

Still not sure what to do to fix your mistake?

If you still aren’t sure what to do, you can contact the IRS. If you haven’t gotten a notice with specific contact information, you can use the following toll-free numbers:

  • Individual taxpayers: 800-829-1040 (TTY/TDD 800-829-4059)
  • Business taxpayers: 800-829-4933

Otherwise, you should use the contact information in any IRS notice sent to you.

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

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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.

Resources and Guidance

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Internal Revenue Manual (IRM)

IRM 21.5.3, Customer Account Services, Account Resolution, General Claims Procedures

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