If you discover an error after filing your tax return, you can correct it by filing an amended return with the IRS. A return can be amended to correct income, credits and deductions and, in most cases, even changing a filing status.
If you find you need to amend a return here are some things the IRS wants you to know.
An individual income tax return is amended by filing Form 1040X.
A Form 1040X cannot be electronically filed. You must prepare a paper return and mail it to the IRS to the address indicated on the instructions. If the amended return is being filed in response to a notice received from the IRS, the amended return is mailed to the address shown on the notice.
If you are amending information on one of the schedules, the amended schedule needs to be attached to the Form 1040X.
A return should not be amended to correct mathematical errors. With the advent of software these errors are not as common as they once were, but if they occur, the IRS will automatically correct them and notify the taxpayer of the correction.
A return should not be amended to include a required form or schedule which was not included with the original return. Again, these errors are rare due to tax preparation software and electronic filing. However, if a schedule is omitted, the IRS will mail you a request for the missing document.
If you are amending returns for more than one year, you will need to prepare a Form 1040X for each year separately. Each Form 1040X should be mailed to the IRS in a separate envelope.
If you need to amend a return which generated a refund, you should wait until you receive the refund from the originally filed return before filing an amended return.
If the amended return results in your owing a tax, you should pay the tax at the time you file the amended return. Failure to do so will generate interest and penalties on the amount due from the date the return was originally due (usually April 15).
If you are filing an amended return to claim a refund, the amended return must be filed within three years from the date of filing the original return or the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. If you fail to timely file an amended return, the government gets to keep your refund.
You can track the status of an amended return three weeks after mailing it by going to the IRS website (
). It can take the IRS up to 16 weeks to actually process an amended return, and sometimes even more.