Generally, you must amend your return within three years of filing or two years of paying.
Have you discovered a mistake you on a previous year’s tax return you already filed with the IRS? You have an obligation to fix it by filing an amended return.
But don’t worry – it’s not all bad news. Filing an amended return might actually make your refund bigger, netting you a little extra cash.
Reasons to file an amended return (or not)
Some of the most common reasons for amending a tax return include changing your filing status or income, or adding credits and deductions you may have missed the first time around.
Not every mistake requires an amended return. For example if you just made a math error, you don’t need to file an amendment. The IRS will catch these and correct them automatically.
Also if you forget to attach a form or schedule to your return you don’t need to file an amended return. If the IRS needs it, they will request it from you specifically.
When to amend your return
Yes, you can amend a prior year tax return. Generally, however, you must amend your return within three years (including extensions) after the date you filed your original return or within two years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
How to amend your return
Once you e-file your return and it’s accepted by the IRS, or once you put your paper return in the mail, you can no longer change it. If you need to correct a mistake, you need to amend the return.
You do this by filing Form 1040X [Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return]. Unfortunately it cannot be filed electronically, so you will have to mail in the form. However, if you originally e-filed your return online, your tax service may be able to help you prepare your amendment.
For example, if you filed the original return with PriorTax you can amend the return online through PriorTax as well. We will prepare your amended return for you, so that all you have to do is print it out and mail it to the IRS.
If you didn’t originally use PriorTax, you cannot file an amended return through us. We suggest you ask the tax service you used to file the original return.
And remember, while you’re filing your amended return, now is the perfect time to get caught up on all of your unfiled returns from previous years. On PriorTax you can file any return from 2005 to the current year.
Photo via hobvias sudoneighm on Flickr.