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5 Min. Read

How to File an Amended Tax Return with the IRS in 5 Simple Steps

Filing an amended tax return requires that you fill out Internal Revenue Service Form 1040X (Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return) and submit it to the IRS. The tax code is complex and with recent changes under the 2018 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, it’s common for small business owners to make mistakes on their income tax returns. If you make a mistake on a tax return or you receive new information that requires an amendment, such as learning that you qualify for certain tax credits or deductions, you can file an amended tax return to provide the federal government with new information about your income taxes.

These topics show you how to file an amended tax return:

How to File an Amended Tax Return: 5 Easy Steps

When Do You Need to File an Amended Tax Return?

How Long Do You Have to File an Amended Tax Return?

Can an Amended Tax Return Be Filed Electronically?

NOTE: FreshBooks Support team members are not certified income tax or accounting professionals and cannot provide advice in these areas, outside of supporting questions about FreshBooks. If you need income tax advice please contact an accountant in your area.

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How to File an Amended Tax Return: 5 Easy Steps

To file an amended tax return you need to fill in IRS Form 1040X and send it to the government along with any new supporting documents. Here are five tips for filing amended returns:

1. Gather All Your Documents

Get your old tax return for the tax year you’ll be amending and any new supporting documents. You’ll need to reference the original tax return when filing your amended version. You’ll also need to use any new documents related to your amendment, such as a W-2 form that you didn’t have access to when filing the first time.

2. Collect the Necessary Forms

You’ll need to submit new forms for the sections you’re amending, rather than submitting an entirely new tax return. Download the tax forms related to your changes from the IRS website, where you can access all the tax forms from previous years.

3. Fill Out the 1040X Form

Next, you can download the 1040X Form from the IRS website, along with instructions for filling it out.  You can also write in an explanation of why you’re filing an amended tax return. The 1040X form has three columns you need to fill in:

  • Column A: This is where you write in the amounts related to your income and withheld taxes from your original tax return
  • Column B: This is where you write in the net changes to your income and taxes between the original filing and the amended filing
  • Column C: This is where you write in the correct amount for your income and taxes from your amended filing

4. Review Your Amended Return

Read through your amended return to make sure you’ve included all the necessary details and all the information is accurate. Check that you’re including all the correct forms and supporting documentation for your amendment.

5. Mail Your Amended Return

Finally, you can mail your amended return, along with your supporting documents, to the IRS. If amending your tax return leads to you owing more money to the government, be sure to include a payment with your return, to minimize your interest payments and penalties. It should take the IRS from eight to twelve weeks to review and process your amended return.

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When Do You Need to File an Amended Tax Return?

If there is an error on one of your previously submitted tax returns, you don’t necessarily have to file an amended tax return. In some cases, the IRS will simply correct the mistake on their end and then inform you of the change, including if you made math errors. But if the error is significant and affects your tax obligation, you should file an amendment right away. Here are some instances when you need to file an amended tax return:

  • You misreported your income
  • You received additional relevant information only after filing your taxes
  • You claimed an incorrect number of dependents
  • You included the wrong filing status when submitting taxes
  • You failed to claim relevant tax deductions or tax credits

How Long Do You Have to File an Amended Tax Return?

You have three years from the day you filed your original return to amend your tax return using Form 1040X in order to claim a tax refund. Or, you can file it within two years of the date that you paid the tax, if that’s later. There are some special rules that allow you to submit a Form 1040X amendment beyond the three-year deadline, which are outlined in the 1040X instructions.

Can an Amended Tax Return Be Filed Electronically?

Amended tax returns need to be filed on paper; they can’t be filed online through e-file. If you need to amend more than one tax return, you should print out and prepare a separate Form 1040X for each tax year. Each year’s return must be mailed to the IRS in separate envelopes. Attach any other relevant tax forms or schedules and include them in the envelope with your return.