10 Rules for Filing an Amended Tax Return
As of the 18th of April, the IRS had received more than 131 million returns, of which 88 percent were e-filed. The agency projects that almost five million taxpayers, however, will need to file an amended return during 2014.
The reasons for an amended return can vary widely – an error in the original return, a corrected W-2 issued by an employer, a 1099 received after filing the return, or even a change in marital status under new guidelines for same-sex couples. An amended return does not have to be filed for simple math errors – the IRS will correct the error and notify you of any changes in your payment or refund.
The rules for filing an amended return are straightforward, but must be followed if the return is to be accepted. Here are the top 10 things taxpayers and tax professionals need to know:
- Use Form 1040X to correct previously filed Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ returns. All amended returns must be filed on paper, but can be prepared electronically using tax software. File a separate Form 1040X for each year you are amending, and mail each form in a separate envelope.
- Be sure to enter the year of the return being amending at the top of Form 1040X – software should handle this for you. The form has three columns. Column A shows original or adjusted figures from the original return. Column C shows the corrected figures. The difference between Columns A and C is shown in Column B. There is an area on the back of the form to explain the specific changes being made and the reason for each change. Attach any forms or schedules that are affected by the change.
- Attach copies of any forms or schedules that are being changed as a result of the amendment, including any Form(s) W-2 received after the original return was filed. You must enter your taxpayer identification number, usually your social security number, date of birth, and ZIP code in either application to prove your identity. Once authenticated, you can view the status of your amended return across three processing stages--Received, Adjusted and Completed.
- The “Where’s My Amended Tax Return?” web tool includes an illustrated graphic that visually communicates where the amended return resides within the processing stages. As a reminder, amended returns take up to 12 weeks to process and up to three weeks to show up in the IRS system.
- If you owe additional tax for a tax year which the due date for filing the return has not passed, file Form 1040X and pay the tax by the due date for that year (without regard to any extension of time to file) to avoid penalties and interest. If the due date falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, filing the form and paying the tax will be timely if filed or paid the next business day. To determine where you should file Form 1040X, see Where To File in the Form 1040X Instructions (PDF). For Tax Pros, your tax software should provide the appropriate address.
- If you are filing to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original refund before filing Form 1040X. You may cash that check while waiting for any additional refund.
- Generally, for a credit or refund, taxpayers must file Form 1040X within three years, including extensions, after the date they filed their original return or within two years after the date they paid the tax, whichever is later. For most people, this means that returns for tax year 2011 or later can still be amended.
- This year, many same-sex couples may want to consider filing amended returns for previous years. A same sex couple, legally married in a state or foreign country that recognizes their marriage, is now considered married for tax purposes. This is true regardless of whether or not the couple lives in a jurisdiction that recognizes same-sex marriage. For returns originally filed before Sept. 16, 2013, legally married same sex couples have the option of filing amended returns to change their filing status to married filing separately or married filing jointly. But they are not required to change their filing status on a prior return, even if they amend that return for another reason. In either case, their amended return must be consistent with the filing status they have chosen.
- An amended return may take longer than 12 weeks to process if it is incomplete, includes errors, is unsigned, requires additional information or signatures, in impacted by fraud or identity theft, or has to be cleared by a specialized area in the IRS such as Bankruptcy. It also may take longer if the tax account has been assigned to a revenue officer, has been filed and is under appeal for reconsideration, or if it includes a Form 8379 for an injured spouse allocation.
- Your state tax liability may be affected by a change made on your federal return. For information on how to correct your state tax return, contact your state tax agency.
Source: Internal Revenue Service at http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc308.html; IRS at http://www.irs.gov/uac/Newsroom/With-131-Million-Returns-Filed-Millions-of-Amended-Returns-Expected; IRS at http://www.irs.gov/Filing/Individuals/Amended-Returns-(Form-1040-X)/Amended-Return-Frequently-Asked-Questions; and http://www.irs.gov/taxtopics/tc308.html