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How To Amend An Individual Income Tax Return For A Prior Year

by Alfred Parker

Tax filers occasionally discover an oversight on a tax return after it has already been filed. Fortunately, the IRS provides a practical method to correct previously filed returns. Individuals can claim any missed benefits by amending tax returns from the most recent years.

Meet the filing deadline

IRS Form 1040X is used to correct an earlier return. Individuals can amend an earlier return for up to three years after its original due date. If the tax reported on the original return was not fully paid by its due date, the return can be amended up to two years after the tax is paid. Either way, the later date is the limitation for filing an amendment.

Form 1040X is used to amend the current year or any one of the prior three years. A checkbox is included near the top of the form to designate which year is to be corrected. The amendment itself consists of only two pages, but other supporting forms are likely necessary to support the corrections.

Explain the changes

An amended return must include any supporting forms that would have been on the original, had it been correct. Eligibility for various tax benefits is sometimes discovered at a later date. The 3-year limitation period allows time for you to make sure that you have received all of your tax deductions and credits.

Additional forms are not always necessary. A change in filing status or dependents requires only an explanation. A designated section on the second page of Form 1040X must include an explanation of all proposed changes. A professional tax preparer knows best how to explain all changes in a clear, concise manner.

Mail a paper return

Form 1040X cannot be e-filed and must be mailed. Each Form 1040X can amend only one tax year. Amendments for different years must be mailed in separate envelopes. Amended returns are mailed to a designated address for each region and are manually processed upon receipt.

A copy of the original return should not be included. Only the Form 1040X and other forms to justify the changes are necessary. Because the forms are processed separately, additional time is required to receive your refund.

It can take up to 12 weeks for an amended return to be completely processed. After three weeks, you can use a dedicated look-up tool at the IRS website to follow the progress of your return. Direct deposit is not available for amended returns, and refunds are made by check.

A change in a federal tax return may also necessitate a change in your state tax return for the same time period. Contact a tax accountant about amending prior returns or any other aspect of your tax return. A company like Alexander & Associates CPA can assist you in tax preparation.