Can I Amend a Tax Return from 5 Years Ago?

April 25, 2024 by Steve Banner, EA, MBA
Amended Return written on a notepad

Normally, the answer to this question would be no. This is because, in most circumstances, you must file an amended return within 3 years from the date you filed your original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. If you do not file your amended return within this period, you may be out of luck. However, as is the case with so many parts of the tax law, there are exceptions to this rule.

We will briefly discuss some of these exceptions:


  • Financial disability. The time limit for filing an amended return can be suspended for certain people who are unable to manage their financial affairs because of physical or mental impairment that is medically determinable and either:
    • Has lasted or can be expected to last continuously for at least 12 months, or
    • Can be expected to result in death.
  • Detailed documentation from a physician is needed to support this claim on behalf of the taxpayer. However, it should also be noted that the period for filing an amended return will not be suspended for any time that another person, such as the taxpayer’s spouse or guardian, was authorized to act for them in financial matters.
  • Bad debt or worthless security. The filing period for an amended return based on a bad debt or worthless security is extended to 7 years after the due date of the return for the tax year in which the debt or security became worthless.
  • Foreign tax credit or deduction. The filing period for an amended return to claim or change a foreign tax credit or deduction for foreign taxes is extended to 10 years from the due date of the return.
  • Combat zones and contingency operations. The due date for filing an amended return may be automatically extended when a taxpayer is hospitalized due to injuries sustained while serving in a combat zone or contingency operation. For this purpose, qualified hospitalization means:
    • Any hospitalization outside the United States, or
    • Up to 5 years of hospitalization in the United States
  • Federally declared disasters. If you were affected by a federally declared disaster, you may have additional time to file a claim for credit or refund on your amended return.

This is by no means an exhaustive list of the exceptions to the standard rule that amended returns can only be filed within 3 years from the later of the date of filing the original return or 2 years from the date you paid the tax. There are also other circumstances in which you may be permitted to amend a return filed more than 3 years ago. For example, if one of your prior returns is under examination by the IRS, you may reach an agreement to amend an earlier return as part of resolving the tax issues at hand.

From what we have seen in our discussion, it is clear that determining whether you qualify to amend a tax return from 5 years ago is no simple matter. If you find yourself in the position of wanting or needing to amend your return beyond the normal time limit, our best advice is that you consult with a capable tax professional who is experienced in such matters.



Steve Banner, EA, MBA
Tax Content Developer


Steve Banner began his career in the field of income tax in 1977 and has since gathered business experience in a variety of countries and cultures. In addition to the United States, he has lived and worked for extended periods in Australia, Saudi Arabia, Canada, and Sweden. Along the way he studied Adult Education and earned a Bachelor of Education, Master of Educational Administration, and MBA. He joined TaxAudit in 2016, where he is a Tax Content Developer.


Recent Articles

Double Taxation written on notepad
Most states that have income taxes offer a credit for taxes paid to another state on the same income, although how that credit is calculated is not identical.
File Cabinet with Documents
IRS notice CP05A is sent by the IRS to inform taxpayers that they need more information about the submitted income tax return before a tax refund can be issued.
Father and son baking cookies
You received an IRS CP87A because someone else filed a tax return and claimed the same dependent or qualifying child that you claimed on your tax return.
Man worried about money
Per the collection statute expiration date, the IRS generally has 10 years from the date they assess your tax balance to collect taxes owed.
This blog does not provide legal, financial, accounting, or tax advice. The content on this blog is “as is” and carries no warranties. TaxAudit does not warrant or guarantee the accuracy, reliability, and completeness of the content of this blog. Content may become out of date as tax laws change. TaxAudit may, but has no obligation to monitor or respond to comments.