What Triggers the Need to Amend Your Tax Return?

Picture this: you file your taxes early, kick back your feet, relax, and then…a 1099 from an odd job comes in the mail. Do you need to amend your return? What if you’ve already had your return approved? We give you the lowdown here.

For a sigh of relief, these are the situations when you don’t need to amend:

  • Tax return rejected – all you have to do is go back to your return, make the changes, and resubmit.
  • Small math error – often, the IRS will fix small calculation problems for you, but if they require recalculation, you execute the same as above.
  • Forgot to attach forms – in addition to 1099s, W2s and K-1s are infamous for rolling in late. Attach the forgotten forms, recalculate, and send it back on its way.

Now, for when you need to amend. Broaching this is less painful than it seems.

  • Tax return was already accepted – if the IRS gave you notice of their stamp of approval, you’ll have to formally amend your return.
  • Change in filing status, dependents, credits/deductions, income – these are large changes that will require more than just fixing a few numbers.
  • You’re expecting a refund – if you’re refund needs to be recalculated, an amended return is understandably necessary.

If you need to amend your return, there are a few rules. Most importantly, an amended return cannot be e-filed, regardless of how you filed originally. You must mail in a physical copy. Further, the amended return must be filed within 2 years of the date you paid taxes or 3 years of when the original was filed. This is why saving those receipts is so important! Also, you can claim missed deductions and credits and retract misunderstood ones you claimed. The same procedure goes for dependents if you happened to misunderstand eligibility. An important note when it comes to your filing status: you cannot switch from married filing jointly to married filing separately once the tax due date has passed.You will have to do so next year.

The IRS is fairly flexible when forms are missed, mistakes are made, or you figured out how to claim a larger refund. This is where e-filing is even more of an advantage, and even if you do have to amend and mail, the hassle will be worth avoiding an audit.

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