Tax guide

How to Amend a Return

What Are the Steps to Fix Mistakes My Tax Return?

When you catch a mistake on your tax return after you’ve sent it, there are three possible outcomes:

  • The IRS catches the error, too, and fixes it (math or calculation errors)
  • The IRS catches the error and rejects your return
  • The IRS doesn’t recognize the error and accepts it

For each case, the path forward is a bit different.

How do I fix my tax return if it gets rejected?

If the IRS computers look at your return and something just doesn’t add up, your tax return gets rejected. The issue could be as simple as a typo in a Social Security Number or an address.

The good news is that you can simply file your taxes again—no amended return process needed. Instead, you’ll get a message telling you what the problem was, and how to fix it. In most cases, it’s no big deal. You can just correct the problem and refile your return.

Here are a few of the most common errors:

  • A name doesn’t match Social Security records
  • An address was entered incorrectly
  • An Employer Identification Number (EIN) was entered incorrectly
  • A date of birth was entered incorrectly
  • A child was already claimed on someone else’s return (an ex-spouse, usually)
  • Using the “married filing separately” status in a “community property” state – AZ, CA, ID, LA, NM, NV, TX, WA, or WI – which is not allowed
  • An incorrect number was used to identify yourself to the IRS, such as an incorrect prior-year AGI or Employer Identification Number (EIN)

What do I do if my return is rejected even when everything is correct?

Sometimes, correcting an error on a rejected return is not so easy. You may go ‘round and ‘round, trying to get your AGI right, for example. You say it’s one number, the IRS says, “Sorry, nope, it’s not.”

So what do you do when you just can’t get your return accepted?

First, be absolutely sure of your numbers. Don’t just enter from memory, look at the actual document. For example, when signing your return with your AGI from last year’s return, actually look it up on your return – be sure of the number.

But what if you are sure of your data, and the IRS still says it’s wrong? This sometimes happens with names, Social Security Numbers and birth dates. You could be entering exactly what’s on your child’s Social Security card, but the IRS says that isn’t correct. What’s going on? In this case, the IRS is probably just going by incorrect data it got from the Social Security Administration – errors do sometimes creep in.

Our recommendation is to simply mail your return in cases like this. You can try to correct the problem with the SSA and IRS, but it isn’t a quick resolution, and you needn’t hold your return up while you’re waiting.

Don’t get us wrong – we’re crazy about e-filing. We know it’s the quickest, safest way to file your taxes. But for a tiny percentage of returns, it’s not perfect. Just like people and computers.

How do I fix a mistake on my taxes after the IRS accepts my return?

If you’ve found a mistake after the IRS officially accepts your return, you may wonder if there’s anything actually wrong with it. After all, if the IRS approved it, doesn’t that mean your tax return was fine?

That depends on the error on the return. You normally don’t need to correct math errors—the IRS will catch and make those changes for you.

On the other hand, mistakes having to do with personally identifiable information (PII), filing status, dependents, total income, or tax breaks should be fixed, which is done by using Form 1040X.

What is Form 1040X?

Form 1040X – Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return is a special tax form used to correct errors on your tax return. It serves like a road map that details any mistakes and guides the IRS to your corrections.

Your Form 1040X is only one part of the amended return; make sure to attach your new and improved tax return with all the correct information on it. Once you have everything you need, you’ll need to print and mail the Form 1040X and tax return in a single package.

When should I file Form 1040X?

The IRS says you probably need to amend your return if you made a mistake on your filing status, your income, deductions or credits on your original return. You should also amend your return if you need to:

Correct information on your Form 1040, 1040-NR, or 1040-NR EZ

  • Make certain elections after the prescribed deadline
  • Change amounts previously adjusted by the IRS
  • Make a claim for a carryback due to a loss or unused credit

If you’re due a refund from your original return, wait until you get the refund before filing Form 1040X to claim an additional refund. On the other hand, if you owe more tax, you should file the amended return – and pay the tax – as soon as possible to reduce any interest and penalties.

There’s a three-year window to file an amended return in order to claim a refund. That means you have three years from the date you e-filed your original return, or two years from the date you paid the tax, if that date is later. For example, the last day for most taxpayers to file a 2017 claim for a refund is April 15, 2021.

There are some special rules that may apply, so check out the 1040X instructions for those.

Amending more than one return? You’ll need to prepare a 1040X for each year you amend. Write the year of the return at the top of the 1040X. Form instructions should tell you where to mail it.

What should I include with a Form 1040X?

You should include a copy of your tax return with any incorrect or missing information fixed. Document and record the changed information on the Form 1040X, and then mail the amended return with the Form 1040X to your nearest IRS office.

Can you file a Form 1040X online?

Form 1040-X can now be e-filed, and is available through some companies. 1040.com does not currently offer 1040-X e-file; however, while you can’t send the amended return online through 1040.com, you can use 1040.com again to fix the tax return and fill out the Form 1040X

Before you start filling out Form 1040X, make sure you print your original return so that you’ll have it to refer to. Then, print Form 1040X and the corrected version of your tax return and mail the whole package to the IRS address provided below.

Where do I mail my Form 1040X?

 

IF you are filing Form 1040X:

THEN mail Form 1040X and attachments to:

In response to a notice you received from the IRS

The address shown in the notice

With Form 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, TX 73301-0215

If none of the situations listed above apply to you, mail your return to the Internal Revenue Service Center shown next that applies to you.

IF you live in:

THEN mail Form 1040X and attachments to:

 

Florida, Louisiana, Mississippi, Texas

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, TX 73301-0052

Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Fresno, CA 93888-0422

Alabama, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Georgia, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, West Virginia

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Kansas City, MO 64999-0052

A foreign country, U.S. possession or territory*; or use an APO or FPO address, or file Form 2555, 2555-EZ, or 4563; or are a dual-status alien

Department of the Treasury
Internal Revenue Service
Austin, TX 73301-0215

If you live in American Samoa, Puerto Rico, Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, or the Northern Mariana Islands, see IRS Publication 570.

How do I amend my state return?

If your state return is accepted, you’ll also need to file an amended state return. Check your state’s tax department website for information on how to do that.

Do I have to file an amended return if a letter from the IRS says I’m missing information?

If you didn’t attach a required tax form, the IRS will usually send a request for it before actually approving your return. You won’t have to amend your tax return, since the IRS hasn’t put a “rejected” or “accepted” stamp on it—simply fill out and return the missing form according to the letter’s instruction.

Remember: The IRS will never request personal information over email, phone calls, or the internet. If you receive electronic communications claiming to be from the IRS, you can safely ignore them.

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