Occasionally mistakes are made as we file our tax returns each year. If there are simple mathematical errors, the IRS will usually correct them and send correspondence indicating the changes. However, in cases where income was left out or there are changes to your filing status or claimable credits, you should amend your return to avoid penalties.
FORMS AND DUE DATES
Amended tax returns are filed with form 1040X, and can cover any previously filed 1040, 1040EZ, 1040A, or 1040NR. The 1040X includes columns to itemize changes to the original return, and allows for explanations of the changes if needed. If your changes affect any of the schedules attached to the original return, you will need to attach the schedules to the 1040X as well to better illustrate the alterations. If you’re amending multiple years, you’ll need to include a separate 1040X for each.
If You’re Due a Refund
Note that if you’re making changes that either enable you to receive a refund or increase the previous refund, you must file the 1040X within three years of filing the original return OR two years of paying the tax-whichever comes later. If you filed an original return that claimed a refund and plan to amend the return to increase the refund, you must wait until you’ve actually received the refund to send the amended tax return.
If You Have a Balance Due
And it’s before April 15th
In cases where amending your return will increase the owed tax, you must file the amended return with the additional payment by April 15th. This way you’ll stay current and avoid penalties. The big advantage to filing early is that you allow yourself the time to amend or deal with changes as needed and still meet the April 15th deadline.
And it’s after April 15th
Filing an amended return after that same tax season’s April 15 deadline will result in penalties and interest being assessed from the 15th to the date the additional tax is paid. Filing the amended return quickly after the deadline may avoid some of the accuracy-related penalties.
It is recommended that you use a tax professional to prepare all returns-especially amended ones-to ensure quick turn around and accurate filing.
Why would you want to file an amended return that increases your tax liability? Honesty is the best policy when income is omitted. Filing an amended return to indicate the proper changes can save time and penalties later, as failing to do so can inspire an IRS audit. If you are audited it can be many months before the matter is resolved-not to mention you’ll be assessed the additional liability along with penalties and interest.
Unfortunately amended returns cannot be filed electronically, so you’ll need to mail the return to the service center used for your original return. You can expect processing of your 1040X in 12 weeks; sometimes quicker but occasionally up to 16 weeks.
For further reading on federal amended returns:
IRS Tax Penalties & Interest: Late Filing – Click Here.