Sometimes tax returns need to be corrected. The procedure for making revisions is called amending a tax return, and is accomplished by preparing a new Form 1040, and reporting the changes between the original tax return and the revised tax return on Form 1040X. The IRS recently published some tips for amending tax returns as part of its Summertime Tax Tips Series. Here's some of the highlights:
- "Generally, you should file an amended return if your filing status, number of dependents, total income, tax deductions or tax credits were reported incorrectly or omitted," the IRS advises.
Just about anything can be revised on a tax return. Amendments can be used to correct income, deductions, and tax calculations. Amendments can also be used to disclose information that was not included on the original return.
- "In some cases, you do not need to amend your tax return. The IRS usually corrects math errors or requests missing forms - such as Forms W-2 or schedules - when processing an original return."
The IRS's computer systems are alert to these types of arithmetic mistakes, and such mistakes are usually corrected automatically. If a supporting form or document is missing, the IRS will mail out a letter asking for the specific document that's missing. In these cases, you can respond by sending in the missing document along with the response form included with the letter from the IRS.
- "An amended tax return cannot be filed electronically."
You need to mail in an amended return. Be sure to mail it to the appropriate IRS Service Center, and usually a good idea to mail it certified with return receipt requested. Be aware that there are slightly different ZIP codes for amended returns compared to the ZIP codes for sending in original tax returns.
- "If the changes involve other schedules or forms, attach them to the Form 1040X."
Sometimes other forms and schedules change slightly based on the primary changes you're making. Adding in additional income could result in itemized deductions or the alternative minimum tax being recalculated, or in changing the amount of tax credits. These additional forms, schedules or worksheets should be included with the amended return and noted in the explanations.
- "Generally, to claim a refund, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original tax return or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later."
The IRS is reminding taxpayers that there's a three-year statute of limitations on refunds, and that's three years from the deadline of the original tax return.
- "Normal processing time for amended returns is 8 to 12 weeks."
However, the IRS can take longer to process amended returns, especially if they get backlogged or if the amended return is particularly complicated or requires additional manual processing.