“Help, I’ve made a mistake on my taxes!” A mistake on taxes filing can be chilling, but follow this advice to fix things quickly if you’ve found yourself saying that scary phrase. The faster you do it, the better.
Anyone who makes a mistake on taxes can fix it by filing an amended tax return with IRS form 1040X. The form is fairly simple. To file it, taxpayers need a copy of their original return to work from.
The IRS recommends you keep your tax records going back three years. Most people assume it’s for audits. But needing to amend tax returns is one reason it’s a good idea to save a copy of each year’s return.
Here’s how to file:
How to File Form 1040X to Fix a Mistake on Taxes
Form 1040X has three columns: one for the mistaken amounts on the original return, one for the new amounts, and another column for the net change.
For instance, someone who reported $35,050 in Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) but forgot a 1099 might have a new, corrected AGI of $41,070. They’ll need to enter the incorrect $35,050 amount in Column A, the corrected $41,070 amount in Column C and the difference of $6,020 in Column B.
People who fix tax mistakes with form 1040X will report any changes to adjusted gross income, deductions, exemptions and other amounts. The form then provides a blank for an additional amount owed by the taxpayer and another blank in case the taxpayer is due an additional refund.
The second page of the form provides space to enter supporting information. People who need to correct the amounts of exemptions for themselves and their dependents use Part I. People who want to change the amount of a donation to the presidential election campaign fund should use Part II. Finally, all filers should write a brief explanation of their reasons for filing the form in Part III.
Be aware that people who fix tax mistakes with form 1040X often also have to file amended state returns. Amended state tax return forms can be found for any state by searching online for the name of the state and the words “amended state tax form.”
Attach Any Changed Forms
Mistaken amounts reported on form 1040X often result from mistakes on other forms, like Schedule C for Profit or Loss from Business, Schedule A for Itemized Deductions and Schedule SE for Self Employment Tax. If the information on these or any other forms has changed, taxpayers should fill out corrected copies of each form and attach them to the form 1040X.
Where to Send IRS Form 1040X
Those who file form 1040X should send the completed form, other corrected forms and all supporting documents to the appropriate address from the table below.
After You File
The IRS says most amended tax returns take between 8 and 12 weeks to be processed. Some amended returns can take up to 16 weeks. Those who file form 1040X can track their amended return with the IRS either online or by calling. Amended returns can take up to three weeks to show up on the system. Amended returns can be tracked at:
- IRS 1040X Amended Return Tracking Tool (Click Here)
To use the amended return tracking system, taxpayers will need to enter their social security number, date of birth and ZIP code. One word of caution: entering social security numbers online can be hazardous. To protect future tax refunds from theft, see our article, “6 Reasons to Get an IRS PIN Right Now.”
Don’t File Another 1040
Filing form 1040X is the only way to correct mistakes on a tax return. Taxpayers should never file a second form 1040 or 1040A to try to fix mistakes made on their taxes. Filing a second, corrected form 1040 either with or without a form 1040X will confuse the IRS system. The problems caused by filing a second return can take a long time to untangle and cause a lot of hassle for both the taxpayer and IRS employees.
Reasons to be Careful the First Time
The best bet is to be more careful with the initial return. Taxpayers who file early and use tax prep software like TurboTax or H&R Block Online make less mistakes than those who file late or file paper returns.
Not only do mistakes cause more hassle and increase the taxpayer’s chance of being audited, it also costs everyone more money. The IRS estimates that the burden on the taxpayer for processing each amended return is $160.
Those who find themselves in danger of rushing their taxes are generally better off filing for an extension than making mistakes and then filing an amended return. For instructions, see our article, “How to File for a Tax Extension.”
For more information on fixing tax mistakes, see the video below.