What is the Amended Tax Return Deadline?

March 19, 2024 by Steve Banner, EA, MBA
1040-X Amended Tax Return

As sure as the calendar rolls towards the end of the year and the April 15th filing deadline appears dimly on the horizon, the thoughts of taxpayers start to turn towards their coming tax return and the refund they hope to receive to help pay down their holiday debt. Meanwhile, various voices on social media and in the press remind them to make sure that the employers and financial institutions they dealt with during the year have the correct mailing address to send out W-2s, 1099s, and other reporting documents needed for their tax return. While many taxpayers pay little attention to this advice, those who have changed jobs during the year, or changed addresses, would be well-advised to take notice. This is especially the case for contractors who may have worked for multiple employers.

After we gather our papers together for preparing our taxes, we tend to simply take the forms we have received to our tax preparer and let her perform her mysterious magic that we hope will result in a sizeable refund. However, if we haven’t done our homework properly, it’s easy for us to overlook a Form 1099 that we should have received from an employer or a bank, but which was sent to the wrong address. Asking our tax preparer to create our return based on incomplete information is like asking her to work while blindfolded and with one hand tied behind her back.

Fortunately, there is a remedy for situations such as this: we can file an amended return. Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is used for this purpose and it can either be filed electronically or on paper. The general deadline for this form is that it must be filed within three years from the date the original return was filed or within two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever is later. Returns filed before the due date are considered filed on the due date.
 

Example: Phil changed jobs around the end of 2021 and started working for a new employer in a new town. He included a W-2 from the old employer on his 2021 tax return that he filed in April 2022. For the 2022 tax year, he filed his tax return on March 31, 2023, which included a W-2 from his new employer. In late 2023, Phil was surprised to receive a W-2 from his old employer for the first 3 weeks of 2022. In his haste to relocate and start his new job, he had forgotten that he had worked part of 2022 for the old employer. Thus, he didn’t expect to receive a W-2 from them and hadn’t bothered to give them a forwarding address in his new town. But thanks to the persistence of his old employer and the post office, Phil finally received the missing W-2. Fortunately, it’s not too late for Phil to amend his 2022 tax return to include the long-lost W-2. He must file Form 1040-X by April 15, 2026 (which is 3 years since the date that the original return was considered to have been filed).

 

The same general principles would apply to taxpayers who either forgot to claim a particular tax deduction or credit on their return or were not aware of their eligibility to do so. In cases such as this, the taxpayer may be able to amend more than one of his prior returns so long as the deadline has not expired.

In addition to the types of cases we have discussed so far, there are also other situations where the deadlines are different or may be extended, for example:

 

  • Taxpayers who are physically or mentally unable to manage their financial affairs
  • Federally declared disasters
  • Combat zones and contingency operations
  • Bad debt or worthless security
  • Foreign tax credit or deduction
  • Loss or credit carryback
  • Net operating losses

Further information about amended returns in general, as well as these more complex cases, may be found in the Instructions for Form 1040-X document found on the IRS website.

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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.


 

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