How to File an Amended Tax Return

We’re here to talk about how to file an amended tax return. So, tell us if this story sounds at all familiar.

You’ve finally done it. After hours and hours of work unearthing receipts and forms, you’ve finished filing your tax return. Whether you’ve e-filed your taxes or completed them by hand, you surely know the feeling of relief that comes with the territory. So you hit send, or pop your tax return in the mail, and move on with your life.

But a few days later, or perhaps a few weeks, you discover another tax form. Perhaps it’s from sales you’ve made on Etsy, or from the sale of an investment property. In either case, a pit forms in your stomach.

You think, What will this do to my taxes? Am I going to get audited?

Maybe you will, and maybe you won’t. However, your next step in this scenario should involve filing an amended tax return.

Unfortunately, even the most careful of tax filers can find themselves on the wrong end of a tax error now and then. And while these errors may be common, they can cause all sorts of hardship, from stress to audits and even surprise tax bills!

Instead, we’re going to help you avoid the very worst of these circumstances by walking you through how to file an amended tax return. We’ll explain the types of mistakes that lead to filing and tips for avoiding them altogether.

Filing an Amended Tax Return

Once you’ve officially sent off your income tax return, you can’t make any changes to it. So, in order to make any changes, you need to file an amended tax return on which you enter the correct, updated information and explain why you’re making the change.

Fortunately, you don’t need to fill out your whole tax return over again! It’s as simple as updating the targeted information and offering the explanation. Generally speaking, you have three years from when you filed the first return to file an amended tax return—or two years after you paid the tax. (Whichever is later.)

Using Form 1040X

You can amend your tax return with a special tax form called the 1040X, which is where you’ll correct all the necessary information and explain the reason for the changes.

You can view and download the form here in our Tax Form Library.

Amending Your State Tax Return

Once you’ve completed your amended federal tax return, you’ll need to do the same for your state, assuming your state collects income tax. While we can’t link you to all the forms directly, most states follow the IRS’s lead and label their forms with X.

It never hurts to get a little guidance from an expert tax team to help you amend your state return.

Situations that May Call for an Amended Tax Return

All sorts of mistakes can result in the need to file an amended tax return. We’ve compiled a few of the many we’ve encountered, but certainly not all of them:

  • Simple math errors
  • Unclear writing
  • Incorrect Social Security number
  • Forgetting to report income
  • Omitting certain information or tax forms
  • Misunderstanding various tax codes
  • Improperly taking certain tax credits

Tips for Avoiding Tax Mistakes in the Future

To avoid the tax mistakes that lead to filing an amended tax return, there are a few simple measures you can take.

1. Don’t File by Hand

Filing by hand leads to an increase in tax mistakes. Was that a seven or a two in your Social Security number? Did somebody forget to carry the one when adding their side income?

Avoid these issues by E-filing or filing with a tax preparation company.

2. Stay Organized

Forgetting tax forms and misplacing receipts is common for many tax filers, but they can result in unreported income and other issues that, if not corrected, can lead to an audit or a surprise tax bill.

Staying organized throughout the tax year helps you avoid these upsetting outcomes. And should you need to file an amended tax return anyway, you’ll know right where to look to get started.

3. File Early

Haste makes waste, and in some cases, haste also leads to tax mistakes.

Instead, get started a month or two early and set a timeline to knock your taxes out early. Then, you’ll have plenty of time to double-check and spot errors in advance—not after.

Peace of Mind for Your Amended Tax Return

Discovering you’ve made a mistake on your taxes can be frightening. But from there, your next step shouldn’t involve burying your head in the sand—or fearing for the worst.

If you know what went wrong, get started on your amended tax return. You’ll nip the issue in the bud, and you’ll give yourself a renewed peace of mind. For everything else, just call us.

We’re here to help you through your amended tax return and any resulting issues, such as a tax audit or tax bill. Get in touch via our toll-free live chat to get started today.

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