Can I Change My Tax Return? by Rick Bazzani, CPA

Posted on October 20, 2017 by Rick Bazzani

It is not uncommon for taxpayers to realize that they left out important information from their federal tax returns long after the April 15th filing deadline. The IRS recognizes that mistakes can happen and has in place a simple process that allows taxpayers to update and make corrections to an already-filed tax return.

Correcting an Already-Filed Tax Return

To file an amended U.S. individual tax return, taxpayers need only complete IRS Form 1040X on paper and mail it along with updated supporting forms, schedules and any additional tax liabilities to the address listed on the form’s instructions. Paying any additional amounts in taxes as soon as possible is critical for limiting potential interest and penalty fees. When amending tax returns for more than one year, taxpayers will need to file separate 1040Xs for each tax year and mail them in separate envelopes. Electronic filing of Form 1040X is not permissible.

When to Amend a Tax Return

It is equally important that taxpayers know when it is appropriate to file amended returns. For example, there is no need to correct math errors or account for missing documentation, such as W-2s, that were not attached to an already-filed return. Typically, the IRS will catch and fix these mistakes and advise the taxpayer of any adjustments it made.

Filing an amended return is recommended when a taxpayer made mistakes to his or her filing status, number of dependents or when he or she reported the wrong amount of total income. It is also appropriate to amend a return to claim unused deductions or credits or to remove these items when a taxpayer was not entitled to them.

Generally, taxpayers have three years from the date of filing their original tax returns to file an amended return, or they may file within two years from the date they paid the tax, whichever date is later. However, taxpayers who expect a refund from their original return filing should wait until they receive the refund before filing an amended return. It is okay if the taxpayer cashes the refund check from the original return before receiving any additional refund from the IRS.

How to Prepare an Amended Tax Return

It is advisable that taxpayers to engage the services of experienced tax accountants when filing amended tax returns. These professional understand the process and requirements for making changes to an already-filed return, including checking the accuracy of calculations and providing an explanation for the change.

About the Author: Rick D. Bazzani, CPA, is a senior manager with Berkowitz Pollack Brant’s Tax Services practice, where he provides individuals with a broad range of tax-efficient estate-, trust- and gift-planning services.  He can be reached in the CPA firm’s Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., office at (954) 712-7000 or at