Maybe you forgot to claim an IRA contribution. Or you learned about a tax credit you could get but you’ve already filed your tax return. There’s an easy solution for you to fix your tax return and claim anything you forgot (or weren’t aware of). All you need to do is file an amended return. This does not mean you file another Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ – you should never file more than one original tax return for any year.
The IRS Form 1040X is all you need to file an amended tax return. Basically, you’ll just fill out the correct information you should have put on your original tax return. Click here to download Form 1040X and the instructions. The instructions will help answer any specific questions you may have.
If you did your original tax return using software, it’ll probably be easiest to use that same software to complete your amended return. You’ll need to follow the specific instructions for the program you used since it’ll vary. This is one of the easiest ways to file an amended return.
If you used a tax preparer to file your return, you just need to contact them to file an amended return. (This is a good reason to avoid H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, Liberty Tax Services, or any other seasonal tax preparation shop. They won’t be open when you need them later on in the year!) Send in the correct information and your tax preparer can fill out Form 1040X for you.
How Long Do I Have?
Generally, you can only file an amended return within 3 years of when you filed the original return. If you file early, you are considered as filing on the deadline of that year. For example, if you filed on March 3rd the IRS would consider you as having filed on April 15th. If you filed for an extension, then the deadline of the extension will be your effective filing date.
However, there are a few exceptions to this three year rule. First, if you’re physically or mentally unable to manage your financial affairs this deadline can be waived. Check out IRS Publication 556 for more details. There are also a number of other exceptions to the three year limit, including bad debts, worthless securities, foreign tax credits or deductions, and loss or credit carrybacks. See the instructions for Form 1040X for more information on those exceptions.