Amending Your Taxes

Source: sxc.hu Photo: dishaw

Imagine this: you file your tax return just to learn soon enough that you made an error or omitted important information. While this may feel like a kick in the gut, it is not nearly as bad as it sounds. Rather than worry about whether or not the IRS will audit and catch you, file an amended tax return.

Common Reasons to File an Amended Tax Return

Here are several reasons why you may need to file an amended return:

  1. To claim or remove dependents
  2. Report additional income
  3. To correct a mathematical error
  4. Make changes to your deductions or credits
  5. Change your personal exemptions
  6. Report additional withholding

How to File an Amended Return

Now that you know some of the most common reasons for filing an amended tax return, you should consider how this is done.

It takes two steps to amend a return. Part one consists of filling out a new Form 1040. Once you are done with this, you need to complete Form 1040X which shows the differences between your original and new return.

Why do I need to fill out a new 1040? The main reason for this is that you will be asked to match items from this form against 1040X. Along with this, it is a good idea to have an accurate return for your records.

Before you start to fill out Form 1040X, you should gather the following documentation: your new 1040, as well as your original information. Part 2 of Form 1040X is where you get down to business. It is this area where you will note what changes you made and why this was necessary. Make sure you are as clear and complete as possible.

Need more information? Here are several things the IRS wants you to know about amending your return:

  1. You must use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.
  2. You are only allowed to paper file an amended return – you cannot electronically file even if this is how you did so originally.
  3. At the top of Form 1040X there is an area where you can enter the year of the return that you are amending. It is important that you include this information so the IRS can properly update their records. You have three years from the date you originally filed or two years from the date you paid, whichever is later, to file Form 1040X.
  4. Need to prepare more than one amended return? Make sure you use a separate 1040X for each, and mail them in individual envelopes.
  5. If you find that you owe additional tax, you should file an amended return as quickly as possible and then pay your liability right away. This will help to limit the amount that you pay in penalties and interest.

The process for filing an amended tax return is simple. Hopefully you never have to do this, but if the time comes make sure you follow the above advice.