The Basics of How to Amend a Tax Return

The Basics of How to Amend a Tax Return

If you made mistakes on your federal tax return, the IRS allows you to correct them using an amended tax return. You can also amend your return if you missed a tax deduction or credit you are eligible to receive.

We will review the basics of amended tax returns, including how to file them and when to amend your tax return.

What Is an Amended Tax Return?

An amended tax return, or IRS 1040-X, is a form that taxpayers file or e-file with the IRS to correct mistakes made on their original federal tax return. This allows taxpayers to reconcile errors regarding their filing status, income, and deductions. 1040-X also resolves errors for credits claimed and tax liability.

Who Should File an Amended Return?

There are appropriate times to amend your return and also times when you should not amend your return.

Amend your return if you:

  • Did not claim a tax deduction or credit
  • Claimed an expense, deduction, or credit you are not eligible to claim
  • Erroneously claimed the wrong tax filing status
  • Seek to add or remove a dependent on your return

Typically, you will not need to amend your return if you make math or clerical errors when you file a 1040 return. The IRS has processes to correct these simple mistakes. After correcting, the IRS either sends you an additional tax balance due notice or a refund depending on the outcome of the error you made.

When Is the Deadline to Amend a Tax Return?

File form 1040-X within 3 years of filing a return or two years of paying taxes, if you are seeking a credit or refund when you amend your return. For example, if you filed your return in April 2022, you have until April 2025 to file your amended tax return.

How Do I File a 1040 Amended Tax Return?

The following are the steps to file an amended return with the IRS:

1. Gather Documents

Collect your original tax return and any other relevant documents needed to prepare the amended return.

These documents may include the following:

  • W-2 or 1099: You will need a W-2 or 1099 (either new or amended) if you want to correct the income reported on your return.
  • Credit/Deduction Documents: If you were eligible for a tax deduction or credit but did not claim, you will need supporting documents for your new claims. These may include receipts for charitable donations, Form 1098-T for an education credit, or a Form 1098 Mortgage Interest Statement (either new or amended).

2. Choose the Right Forms

Once you have gathered all the documents, you will need to get the right forms. The specific IRS form for amending returns is Form 1040-X. You may also need additional forms for specific amendments. For example, taxpayers who are changing itemized deductions are required to add a copy of Schedule A for the tax year under review.

3. Complete Form 1040-X

Form 1040-X is typically divided into three sections.

  • Column A: Numbers that a taxpayer previously reported on their tax return. Use a copy of your original tax return to fill out this column.
  • Column B: Whether the amount filed on the original return increases or decreases and by how much. For example, if you are amending your gross income to include a $500 interest payment, enter $500 on line 1 of column B.
  • Column C: Correct amount you should file. To complete this column, add the amounts from columns A and B and enter the sum.
  • Part III of Form 1040-X: Part III of Form 1040-X requires you to provide specific reasons for filing an amended return.

4. Submit Amended Return

If you filed the original tax return electronically for tax years 2019-2021, the IRS allows you to e-file your amended tax return. Original returns for the tax year 2018 or earlier are filed through the mail.

Print out your Form 1040-X and any other additional forms you are amending. Mail them to the the address provided in the 1040-X instructions.

Can I File an IRS Amended Return Electronically?

As mentioned above, beginning in 2019, the IRS has allowed taxpayers to file Form 1040-X electronically if they need to amend their returns for tax year 2019 and after. As an example, if you e-filed a 2021 tax year return with tax software, you should be able to file your amended return right from your account.

How Many Amended Returns Am I Eligible to File Electronically?

You are allowed to file a maximum of three accepted amended returns. Once you reach this number, all other additional amendments will be rejected.

How Long Does It Take the IRS to Process an Amended Return?

The typical time the IRS takes to process an amended return is 16 weeks. Due to coronavirus processing delays, however, the IRS estimates up to 20 weeks (3-4 weeks to show up in system plus another 16 weeks to process). This timeframe applies for both amended paper returns and those filed electronically.

If your return has yet to be amended by the end of the 20 weeks, check the online tracking tool (see below) or seek help from your local IRS office.

How Do I Check My Amended Tax Return Status?

Track your amended tax return status online at If you cannot access this tool, consider calling the IRS directly.

Keep in mind it may now take 3-4 weeks for your amended return to appear in the IRS system even before it is processed.

You must file an amended return to make adjustments, corrections, or add information to an income tax return you filed and was accepted by the IRS. Dealing with tax returns can be a daunting task.

If you need help amending your tax return, schedule a free call or take our quick, free evaluation online.

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