How to change your tax return after you've filed | Amending your tax return

August 06, 2019 by Selena Quintanilla
Amend spelled out with white blocks

It happens to the best of us. We get caught up in daily life, and before we know it, the tax filing deadline has arrived. Flustered, we gather our documents and speed through questions and computations, completing our tax return and clicking “submit” just in time. Alternatively, some of us receive our W-2s and want to get ahead of the game, so we rush to file our tax return without receiving all the required forms and double checking our entries. Either method can result in filing an incomplete or inaccurate tax return. The IRS discovers and corrects most clerical and mathematical errors during processing, but in some cases, you will need to amend your tax return. For federal tax returns, this is done on Form 1040X.  
Here are some dos and don'ts of filing an amended tax return: 


  • Hold off on filing for a corrected refund (tax year 2018). The IRS recommends that taxpayers who are due refunds from their original 2018 tax return wait to amend their return until receipt of their refund − at which point they can file Form 1040X to claim an additional refund.
  • Paper file your amendment. Amendments cannot be filed electronically − which accounts for a fraction of the excess processing time. Where the form is mailed will depend on the taxpayer's situation. General instructions are printed on the 1040X, but the IRS can also send correspondence will specific instructions as well.
  • File amendments to correct errors. Amended tax returns should be filed to correct inaccuracies related to filing status, income, credits, deductions that affect your tax liability or refund amount. Be sure to include an “Explanation of Changes” and attach any supporting documents and new or changed forms and schedules.
  • Amend within three years. The IRS gives taxpayers three years from the date their original tax return was filed – or within two years of the date they paid their tax – to make changes when a refund is due.
  • Remember that amended returns take additional time to process. On average, processing an amendment can take up to 16 weeks.



  • Don’t amend if you receive a math error notice. As stated above, many clerical and mathematical errors are found and corrected by the IRS during processing. Therefore, it is not necessary to file an amended return in response to a math error notice from the IRS.
  • Don’t amend for missing forms. Filing an amendment for missing forms isn't always necessary. These discrepancies, like mathematic errors, are usually found during processing, and the IRS will mail a request for the missing documents to the taxpayer.

If you think waiting for your original tax return to be processed was tough, expect double the angst with an amendment. The good news is that amended returns can be tracked via the IRS ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ tool approximately three weeks after filing.



Selena Quintanilla, CTEC
Communications Associate


Selena Quintanilla is a Communications Associate at TaxAudit, and a California Tax Education Council (CTEC) registered tax professional. She is now on a mission to bring clarity and comprehensibility to a topic that keeps us all up at night at least once a year-TAXES! Please, send coffee! 


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