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How to Correct Your Tax Return

Manasa Reddigari

The joyful moment of completing your taxes is soon interrupted when you discover a tax return error. Whether due to incorrect filing status, an understatement of income or a missed deduction, the error may impose an additional tax burden on you, or with luck, an additional refund. Fortunately, it's relatively pain-free file an amended tax return.

Should you file an amended tax return?

Before filing an amended tax return, consider the significance of the tax return error in question. The IRS cites that minor mishaps in your original tax return, like math errors, can be reconciled by them. Similarly, the absence of a required form or schedule will often cause the IRS to follow-up with you even without your instruction.  If the issue with your return is an incorrectly reported filing status, the number of dependents, cumulative income, tax credits or deductions, you may want to consider filing an amended return. Other reasons to file an amended return include reporting a bad debt or worthless security, a foreign tax credit or deduction or the reconciliation of tax credits due to healthcare coverage.  In some instances, the IRS may find an error before you notice it, and send you a notification prompting you to correct the information. In these cases, filing an amended tax return is often unavoidable.

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Which form should you use for an amended tax return?

If you determine that the tax return error you discovered warrants correction, fill out Form 1040X to correct Forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR or 1040NR-EZ. Ensure that you check the box at the top of the form designating the corresponding tax year for which you are filing an amended return. If you wish to file amended tax returns for multiple years, remember to file a separate Form 1040X for each year that you have chosen to amend.  Unlike standard returns, an amended tax return cannot be e-filed‚ only filed by mail and sent to the appropriate address cited in the instructions for Form 1040X. Include any outstanding forms, schedules and tax payment you owe as a result of the correction. If you are owed an additional refund as a result of the correction, the refund amount will be sent to you separately from the refund you were owed from the original tax return.

When should you file an amended tax return?

An amended tax return should only be filed after filing your original tax return. If you are claiming a refund, you must file Form 1040X within three years from when you filed the original tax return, or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. Additional allowances are made for individuals who filed their tax returns early, filed an extension or are unable to manage their finances on their own.  For more information on how to correct your tax return, see Instructions for Form 1040X.

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