How to File an Amended Tax Return, When to Do It & How to Check It

Taxes - March 17, 2023
Smiling woman filing an IRS amended tax return using her laptop

Have you already filed your tax return but found out you made a mistake or left something out? There’s no reason to be alarmed! The bright side is that the IRS offers the opportunity to file an amended tax return.

Here, you’ll find a step-by-step guide on when to file an amended tax return, how to file it and how to check its status. We also provide helpful tips you should know before filing an amended tax return related to deadlines, payments, and the best time to do it.

Let’s help you be better equipped to handle mistakes and omissions when filing your taxes!

What is an amended tax return?

An amended tax return is a form used to correct errors or make changes to a tax return that has already been filed with the IRS. You may file an amended return when you discover you’ve made errors on your original return.

Perhaps you submitted the incorrect income or deduction amount. Or you forgot to claim a tax credit or there have been changes in your tax situation that require you to adjust the information you reported. Any of these issues require an amended tax return.

To file an amended tax return, you must use form 1040-X. It allows you to amend previously reported income, deductions, and credits, and explain the reasons for the changes.

When should I file an amended tax return?

IRS tax forms on a desk with an ink pen.To err is human, right? Making errors when filing your tax return is inevitable, this is why the IRS allows you to correct them.

Here are some typical situations that may require you to file an amended tax return:

  • You made an error on your tax return, such as reporting the wrong income or claiming an incorrect deduction or credit.
  • You received income that was not reported on your original tax return, such as a corrected form 1099 or W-2.
  • You forgot to claim a deduction or credit that you are eligible for, or you claimed one you do not qualify for.
  • You need to change your filing status. For example, you originally filed as single but now realize you should have filed as married filing jointly, or vice versa.
  • You want to remove or add dependents.

You don’t need to amend your tax return if you made math errors or forgot to attach forms, such as W2s or schedules. The IRS automatically fixes math errors. If this is the case, you’ll receive a bill for additional tax owed or a refund if they owe you money. Or you’ll be requested to send additional forms if necessary.

Here are other useful tips you should know about:

  • You have three years from the original due date of your tax return or two years from the date you paid the tax (whichever is later) to do it.
  • Ensure the IRS has processed your original return before filing the amended one, so they don’t mix them up.

If you think your tax issues are too complex to handle by yourself, learn about the top reasons why getting a tax attorney gives you the best outcome during tax season.

How to amend a tax return?

You must file form 1040-X (Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) to amend your tax return.

The good news is that you can now amend your return electronically for the tax years 2020, 2021, and 2022 for forms 1040 or 1040-SR. If you prefer to do electronic filing of form 1040-X amended tax return, make sure your favorite tax software provider supports filing amended returns.

The first step to amend your return is to ensure that you are required to do it. Why? Because the process of filing form 1040-X involves filing all forms and schedules as if they were the original submissions. It’s like filing your tax return from the beginning—all over again. Quite the work, huh? Luckily, the IRS offers this tool to help you determine if you need to amend it.

After you determine that you need to amend your return, the process is straightforward. Here’s how to do it:

  • Get a copy of your original tax return; you need to reference it to complete form 1040-X.
  • Gather all the previous and new documents needed. For example, if you need to correct your reported income, you may need a new or amended W-2 or 1099 form. If you missed claiming a deduction or credit, you need documentation to support it.
  • Fill out form 1040-X with the corrected or additional information you need to include on your amended return. Part III of the form is where you provide a clear explanation for amending your return. You need to fill out the following three columns:

Column A: Here, you add the numbers previously reported on your original tax return.

Column B: This is where you list the amount that needs to increase or decrease from your original return. For example, if you need to add additional income from a new form 1099, you only add the amount of that new income that wasn’t included in the original form, not your total income.

Column C: In this column, you add the amounts from columns A and B and enter the result here, showing the correct amount.

4. Remember to submit all necessary forms and schedules, especially those you adjust. For instance, if you update your itemized deductions, you need to attach a new Schedule A. If you receive notices from the IRS, attach those as well.

Woman in her living room working on an amended tax return.If your preferred method is electronic filing, keep in mind that most tax preparation software will help you fill out the form and ask you to submit any supporting forms when making corrections.

After you amend your return and realize you have a higher tax bill, we recommend you pay it as soon as possible. This way, you avoid potential penalties and interest on unpaid taxes. You can use the IRS Direct Pay to pay it fast.

We put together 4 tips to file your taxes online in our previous blog. We recommend reviewing these tips to ensure you don’t make a mistake or leave something out again.

Where’s my amended tax return?

Are you excited to find out if you’re getting a new refund? You bet! To check the status of your amended return, the IRS offers an online tool that can even confirm receipt—Where’s My Amended Return?

This tool can give you a status update 21 days after filing the amended return. You’ll be asked to provide your Social Security number, date of birth, and zip code. When you check for updates, you can get three options:

  1. Received: It has been received, and it’s being processed. Keep in mind that it takes 20 weeks or more to complete processing.
  2. Adjusted: This status means that your account has been adjusted, resulting in a refund, balance due, or no tax change.
  3. Completed: Your return has been processed and you’ll receive all the information by mail.

If the “Where’s My Amended Return?” tool can’t find your tax return 21 days after you filed, you can check the status of your amended return by calling the IRS toll-free number at 866 464-2050.

Was it hard to wrap your head around all the paperwork you need? Then make next year’s process easier with this post-tax filing checklist.

How can LegalShield help me with my taxes?

Woman relaxing on a sofa and looking at the LegalShiel app screen that reads: A law firm in the palm of your hand.Wouldn’t it be nice to seek tax advice from a real lawyer without worrying about exorbitant hourly rates? Absolutely! LegalShield Members receive legal advice on personal legal issues for a monthly subscription fee, including legal answers to your tax questions.

On top of that, with a LegalShield membership, you get full access to a provider law firm in your state. If audited by the IRS for your individual income tax return, they will provide a scheduled number of hours for advice, consultation, negotiations, and representation—including trial defense.

If you have the Business Plan add-on, your provider lawyer will advise you on business tax legal matters, as well as patent, trademark, copyright, and antitrust legal matters.

LegalShield is here to provide access to the support you need to make filing your individual tax return as legally smooth and stress-free as possible.
Woman using her smartphone to login to LegalShield app. The purple screen reads: A law firm in the palm of your hand.

What are you waiting for? Sign up for LegalShield’s personal plan to schedule a tax consultation with your provider law firm before filing another tax return!

Pre-Paid Legal Services, Inc. (“PPLSI”) provides access to legal services offered by a network of provider law firms to PPLSI members through membership-based participation. Neither PPLSI nor its officers, employees or sales associates directly or indirectly provide legal services, representation, or advice. The information available in this blog is meant to provide general information and is not intended to provide legal advice, render an opinion, or provide any specific recommendations. The blog post is not a substitute for competent legal counsel from a licensed professional lawyer in the state or province where your legal issues exist, and the reader is strongly encouraged to seek legal counsel for your specific legal matter. Information contained in the blog may be provided by authors who could be a third-party paid contributor. All information by authors is accepted in good faith, however, PPLSI makes no representation or warranty of any kind, express or implied, regarding the accuracy, adequacy, validity, reliability, availability, or completeness of such information.

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