An amended tax return generally allows you to file again to correct a mistake in your filing status, your income or to add deductions or credits you may have missed. Here are some points the IRS wants you to know about amending your Federal tax return.

Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax return, to file an amended income tax return. An amended return cannot be filed electronically. You must file it by paper. The IRS typically processes an amended return within 8 to 12 weeks.

You should file an amended return if you:

  • Received additional or amended tax forms or statements from employers, banks, or investment brokers.
  • Forgot to report income.
  • Overlooked tax deductions or credits you could have claimed.
  • Claimed deductions or credits for which you weren't entitled.
  • Didn't claim a dependent you were entitled to, or claimed someone you shouldn't have.
  • Chose the wrong filing status.

For example: Choosing the wrong filing status can have a big financial impact. If you originally filed as "single" but could have filed as "head of household," your standard deduction would jump from $12,200 to $18,350 in 2019. Also, couples who filed separately can change to "married filing jointly" in order to take advantage of tax breaks not allowed to separate filers.

Be sure to enter the year of the return you are amending at the top of the Form 1040X. Generally, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original return. Attach all schedules, forms, and documentation to your amended return. Clear and precise explanations on the Form 1040X can help the IRS process your amended return more efficiently.

If you are amending more than one tax return, prepare a Form 1040X for each year and mail them in separate envelopes to the appropriate IRS center. The Form 1040X instructions list the addresses for the centers.

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.

You have three years from the due date of the return to make any corrections that result in additional tax refunds. If you exceed this time threshold, you will not receive any refund.

Your state tax liability may be affected by a change on your Federal return. For information on how to correct your state tax return, contact your state tax agency.

The "Where's My Amended Return?" tool provides the status of Form 1040X for the current year and up to three prior years. It can take up to three weeks from the date you mailed the amended return to show up in the IRS system. You will need your Social Security number, date of birth, and zip code to access your information.

Does amending a return increase the audit risk? The IRS will manually process your amended return. It will check to make sure your explanations are sufficient. But, there is no conclusive proof that an amended return increases the probability of an IRS audit.

Barry Lisak is an IRS Enrolled Agent, meaning that he has passed special U.S. Treasury Department exams that qualify him to represent clients dealing with audits or tax-resolution cases. Any questions can be directed to him at (516) TAX-SAVE, or

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