Tips to help taxpayers decide how and when to file an amended tax return

COVID Tax Tip 2021-157, October 25, 2021

After filing their tax return, taxpayers may find they made an error or forgot to enter something on it. The IRS strongly recommends taxpayers use the Interactive Tax Assistant, Should I File an Amended Return? to help determine if they should correct an error or make other changes to the tax return they already filed.

Here are some common reasons people may need to file an amended return:

  • Entering income incorrectly
  • Not claiming credits for which they're eligible
  • Claiming deductions incorrectly

The IRS may correct math or clerical errors on a return and may accept returns without certain required forms or schedules. In these instances, there's no need for taxpayers to amend the return.

Taxpayers should also wait if they expect a refund. They need to allow time for their original tax return to be processed before filing an amended return. The IRS is automatically refunding money to eligible people who filed their tax return reporting unemployment compensation before changes made by the American Rescue Plan. It may take the agency more than 21 days to issue refunds for some 2020 tax returns that require review including incorrect recovery rebate credit amounts or returns that used 2019 income to figure the earned income tax credit and additional child tax credit.

Those who do need to amend their tax return might have questions about how to do so. Here are some things they should know, taxpayers:

  • May now use tax software to file an electronic Form 1040-X. At this time, only tax year 2019 and 2020 Forms 1040 and 1040-SR returns can be amended electronically and only if the original 2019 or 2020 tax return was also filed electronically.
  • Who cannot or chose not to file their 1040-X electronically should complete a paper Form 1040-X.
  • Mail a paper 1040-X to the IRS address listed in the form's instructions PDF under Where to File. Taxpayers filing Form 1040-X in response to an IRS notice should mail it to the IRS address indicated on the notice.
  • Should attach copies of any forms or schedules affected by the change.
  • Need to file a separate Form 1040-X for each tax year. When mailing amended returns to the IRS, place each tax year in a separate envelope and enter the year of the original return being amended at the top of Form 1040-X.
  • Should pay additional tax owed as soon as possible to limit interest and penalty charges.
  • Must file Form 1040-X to claim a refund within three years from the date they timely filed their original tax return or within two years from the date they pay the tax, whichever is later.
  • Can track the status of an amended return three weeks after mailing using the Where's My Amended Return? tool.

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