5 Tips If You Have To Amend A Tax Return

October 14, 2020

Have you realized that you made a mistake on your tax return? Don’t worry, it happens to the best of us.

But if you did make a mistake, you may be required to go back and fix it in order to receive your full tax refund or pay the full amount you owe. You can correct a mistake and save yourself these future difficulties by filing an amended tax return. To make filing easier, here are five tips in case you need to amend your tax return.

Tip #1: Know what circumstances require you to amend your return 

It’s important that you understand that you understand the conditions that compel you to submit an amended tax return so that you don’t waste time needlessly filling one out. You’re only required to amend your original tax return if you make certain mistakes. File an amended tax return if you need to:

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  • Change your filing status
  • Adjust the number of dependents you claimed
  • Correct your total income, credits, or deductions

On the other hand, you don’t need to amend a return for other tax-filing mistakes, such as messing up on your math or forgetting to include certain forms. In virtually every case, the IRS should be able to correct math mistakes on your original return for you. And if you forgot to include a required form with your tax return, such as a W-2, then you’ll receive a notice in the mail from the IRS requesting the missing forms. So, in these cases, you can spare yourself the trouble of filing an amended tax return.

Tip #2: Track your amended tax return 

You may be asking the question, “Where’s my amended return?”, if it’s been a few weeks since you filed it and you haven’t received any updates. Amended tax returns take some time to process, so be patient. Three weeks after filing, you should have the ability to track your amended tax return through the IRS website. If you’ve filed multiple amended returns, you can check the status of each one on the tracking page.

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Tip #3: File your amended tax return online 

For a very long time, the IRS required taxpayers to fill out a physical copy of Form 1040-X and submit it via mail. However, this past August, the IRS announced a change to the system that allows taxpayers to file the form online using commercial tax-filing software. This is a major convenience and huge upgrade from the former system.

Filing online can streamline the process of submitting an amended tax return, allowing you to make changes from the comfort of your own home and get the form to the IRS faster than ever before. It’s also less likely that you’ll make a mistake when filing online versus when you fill out a physical form—and if you do, it’s now much easier to correct that mistake! But, if for whatever reason you’d prefer to fill out a physical copy of Form 1040-X, that’s still an option available to you, too.

Tip #4: Cash in your original refund first 

Don’t file an amended tax return until you receive the refund from your original return. If you file the amended return before, it could potentially make it take longer for you to get your tax refund. If you’re owed more than what you got in your original refund, it will be sent to you eventually, you’ll just have to be patient. It can take as long as four months for an amended tax return to be processed, and for any additional money to be sent to you. So, in the meantime, you might as well put the cash from your original tax refund to good use.

Tip #5: File within three years 

In order to correct the mistakes on your original tax return and claim the money you’re owed, you’ll need to file the Form 1040-X and make the necessary changes within three years of the date that you filed your original return. In the case that you owe money to the IRS, however, you should make the changes and submit the form as soon as possible in order to avoid accruing additional interest, fees, and penalties.

Don’t let a mistake on your tax return create problems for you. File an amended tax return once you’ve realized your mistake. You should be able to smoothly navigate that process by following these tips.

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