Can I File an Amended Tax Return?

Did you forget to include some deductions on your tax return that can mean the difference between having to pay in & getting a refund. How is this possible? By filing an amended tax return. If it’s been within three years since you accidentally filed your tax return early, you can file an amended version. Let’s find out how.

What is an Amended Tax Return?

An amended tax return is different than a tax extension when you need to file your original tax documents after the regular April 15th deadline (This year Tax Day was April 18th)

You would file an amended tax return to correct reporting errors such as you filing status, income, or deductions.

To file an amended tax return, your will need to file a Form 1040X. You can use the form the file additional income information or additional deductions that were initially overlooked or miscalculated.

Below is an image of what IRS Form 1040X looks like.

Can I File An Amended Tax Return?
This is what a Form 1040X looks like

It looks very similar to the regular Form 1040 that you complete each year whether you file by hand or use tax prep software. In fact, your tax prep program will allow you to complete a 1040X. Some programs even do it for free!

The primary difference is there are three columns.

Column A-Original Amount listed on Form 1040EZ/A.
Column B– Net Change
Column C- Correct Amount

In addition to showing the math to justify your penalty or refund, you will also have to explain the error on the 2nd page of Form 1040X.

And, you will also have to mail in any additional documents (i.e. W-2s, 1099s, etc.) If you file electronically the IRS might be able to pull the records from the issuer.

Form 1040X Filing Deadlines

There are two different filing deadlines for amended tax returns.

Receive a Refund

Hopefully, you are filing a Form 1040X to get some extra cash back. If so, you have 3 years (including tax extensions) from the date you originally filed your taxes.

If you filed your 2015 tax return on March 28, 2016, you have until March 28, 2019, to file an amended return.

Pay a Tax Penalty

If you need to “pay in,” you have two years from the date you originally filed.

Sticking with the 2015 tax return you filed on March 28, 2016, you only have until March 28, 2018, to file a 1040X if you owe taxes. Also, you will be liable for any penalties & interest that has accrued since the original tax filing deadline. While paying these additional charges makes for a bad day, it’s still better than getting a tax audit.

How Long Does It Take To File an Amended Tax Return?

It doesn’t take too long to complete and file your amended tax return. Since it should just be one or two minor changes, it might take you longer to find your old tax records.

Once you file your amended tax return, it can take up to 12 weeks for the IRS to process your new return. As always, it is quicker to file electronically than mailing in a paper form. And, you can always track the progress as with your normal return.

If you have amended tax returns to file for two or more years, you will need to file a separate 1040X for each tax year.

When You Don’t Have To File an Amended Tax Return

There are you few times when you don’t have to file an amended tax return.

Simple Math Errors

The IRS will usually catch and adjust simple math errors before they accept your original tax return.

Forgot to Mail a Form

If you forgot to mail in a form, but originally reported the tax information, such as a W-2 or 1099 income statement or a Form 1095-A Healthcare Marketplace Statement, the IRS will send a request for more information.

Of course, if you never reported the income or deduction in the first place, you will need to file a 1040X to accurately correct your form.


If you have tax information that alters the amount of the tax you owe or refunded, you need to file a 1040X. You have two years to file a 1040X if you owe the IRS money & 3 years to file if they owe you money. It takes a few minutes to file a 1040X and your tax prep program can do all the hard work for you.

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