- An amended tax return is a separate document you file when you need to correct something on your original return, like a credit, deduction, filing status, or income mistake
- You usually don’t need to submit an amended return if you made a small math mistake or you received a notice from the IRS about an audit
- How to track your amended tax return:
- Gather your information
- Understand typical wait times
- Use the Where’s My Amended Return? tool
- Track your refund
- Track by phone
- Learn what the different statuses mean
- Don’t try to track your return if it hasn’t been three weeks since you filed it
Mistakes happen, even with your taxes. Alterations to tax law seem to happen often, and it’s not easy to understand all the tax breaks and requirements for businesses or individuals. You may also have simply made a calculation error on your tax return that could impact how much you owe or what you receive as a refund.
Amended tax returns are thus very common – around 3 million amended returns are filed each year. An amended return is a must if an error was made that could get you into trouble with the IRS or become very costly for you down the road.
This guide will provide all the information you need about amended tax returns and when to file them as well as an overview of how to track your amended tax return.
What Is an Amended Tax Return?
Filing your taxes means you submit Form 1040 to report your income and expenses for the previous year by the filing deadline, which is usually April 15. You’ll submit Form 1040, 1040-SR, or 1040-NR, but sometimes these forms may have errors that you need to fix later.
You will typically need to file an amended tax return with the IRS when you have made a mistake, need to change your elections, or need to make a claim for a carryback because of an unused credit. Fixing a credit or a refund requires you to submit Form 1040-X within three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years after the day you paid the tax, whichever is later.
Form 1040X is the Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return you’ll need to submit, which you can now file electronically. You’ll need a separate Form 1040-X for each tax return you are seeking to amend – for instance, if you’re amending more than one year’s tax return.
This amended tax return then becomes your new tax return for the given year, changing the information you submitted originally for that year.
When You Would Need to Submit an Amended Tax Return
Maybe you just realized that you made a mistake on your tax return, and you’re not sure what to do. Everyone is human, and including some kind of error on your return is more common than you think. Here are a few of the most common reasons people have to submit an amendment to the IRS:
Correcting an Error or Omission
A very common reason for an amended tax return is if you made a significant mistake, like leaving off the income you earned that year. This can be especially common for self-employed people or contractors, who receive several different 1099 forms from clients. It’s easy to overlook a stream of income, but you want to be sure you correct your return so the IRS doesn’t penalize you for doing so.
Claiming a Credit
It isn’t always completely clear which credits you can take. Sometimes you may have left off a credit you’re eligible for, or you may have tried to claim one when you don’t actually meet the requirements. Again, you want to do everything you can to avoid penalties from the IRS as well as claim all the tax breaks you can get, so filing an amended return can help you resolve these issues.
Deductions can be one of the most confusing components of tax returns. You may have left off dependents or expenses that you were eligible to deduct, or maybe you included deductions that weren’t accurate. Resolve any discrepancies by filing Form 1040X.
Changing Your Filing Status
Many people may think there are just two filing statuses to worry about: single and married. Taxpayers may miss that they can (or can’t) file as head of household. Including the wrong status can greatly impact your tax refund, so an amended tax return can solve this problem.
Assess the error or omission you may have made on your tax return. Penalties for missing something or including something you’re not eligible for can be costly. Failing to pay enough in taxes the first time may result in the IRS charging you for the rest of what you owe plus accrued interest. Added penalties will make this amount even higher. Contact a tax expert if you have questions.
When You Don’t Need to Submit an Amended Tax Return
Do you have to submit an amendment for any little mistake you make on your tax return? Not always. There are a few scenarios when the IRS takes care of error correction for you or when an amended return isn’t necessary:
You Received an Underreported Inquiry
The IRS may have sent you an IRS CP2000 notice, which is used when the income information you submitted in your return doesn’t match what the IRS has on file for that year. All you need to do is follow the instructions on the notice, including completing the notice response form.
You Forgot to Attach Tax Documents
Failing to include your W-2 or 1099s doesn’t require an amendment. The IRS will contact you if they need more information about your income.
You Made a Math Error
It’s common to make a small math error on your tax return. Don’t submit an amended return when you notice that you made a calculation mistake. The IRS will correct it for you and may send you a notice informing you of the change.
You Received an IRS Audit Notice
It isn’t possible to take care of a tax audit with an amended tax return. Follow the instructions on the audit notice you received from the IRS, and respond with any documentation or data they request.
It’s just as important to understand when you shouldn’t amend your return as it is to know when you should. The IRS also has a helpful tool called Should I File an Amended Return? which is an interview you can take online that helps you figure out if you need to submit one.
A good rule of thumb is to thoroughly read any documents or notices you receive from the IRS and follow the exact instructions they provide. It will also help if you work with a tax professional to resolve these matters.
How to Track Your Amended Tax Return in Six Steps
Submitting an amended tax return then requires you to wait for the IRS to accept it. This process can take a while, unfortunately. The IRS luckily provides a helpful online tool so you can track your amended return’s status. Here’s how to do it:
1. Gather Your Information
Checking your status requires that you provide some basic information about yourself to the IRS. Make sure you have your Social Security number, date of birth, and zip code. That’s all you need to look up your return information.
2. Understand Typical Wait Times
The IRS says it can take up to three weeks for the amended return to show up in their system, and then processing that amendment can take up to 16 weeks. However, during COVID-19, the IRS faced even longer wait times and says that it can be up to 20 weeks to process amended returns.
3. Use the Where’s My Amended Return? Tool
The IRS created the Where’s My Amended Return? tool specifically to help people track their amendment status. Click on the “Amended Return Status” button on this page to get started. This resource will provide the status for amended returns for the current tax year and up to three previous tax years.
4. Track Your Refund
Sometimes a tax return amendment may result in a refund. Check the status of your refund by visiting the Where’s My Refund? tool on the IRS website. You’ll need your Social Security number, filing status, and exact refund amount to get started.
5. Track by Phone
You can call the IRS at 866-464-2050 to ask what your amended return’s status is. However, the IRS asks taxpayers to call this number only when the online tool prompts them to. The website states that “IRS telephone assistors don’t have any additional information about your amended return while it is processing.”
6. Learn What the Different Statuses Mean
Your amended return status should be updated in the system after about three weeks since you filed it. The three different status updates are as follows: received, adjusted, and completed. “Received” means that the IRS has your amended return in the system and it is still being processed. “Adjusted” indicates that the IRS has made an adjustment to your account based on the amendment. “Completed” means that processing is complete and the IRS has mailed you the information you need.
The IRS says it updates the Where’s My Amended Return? tool every day, typically during the night. You may not see an update until the next day but can continue to check the status daily. A tax expert can help you understand what you should do.
Helpful Reminders When Checking Your Amended Return’s Status
Sometimes the process isn’t completely straightforward, especially if further adjustments need to be made or the IRS has issues with what you submitted. Here are some important reminders when you’re figuring out how to track your amended tax return:
- The IRS will send you a notice if they don’t agree with the changes in your amended return. This notice is called a notice of claim disallowance.
- Don’t file a second tax return or call the IRS if the full 16 weeks haven’t passed since you filed your amended return (or 20 weeks with pandemic delays).
- Don’t try to check your amended return’s status online until it’s been three weeks since you filed the amended return. This is how long it can take for your amended return to show up in the IRS’s system.
- The IRS may take longer than 16 weeks if there are issues with the amended return, including the following:
- There are errors on the amendment
- The amended return is incomplete
- You forgot to sign the amended return
- They are requesting more information from you and returning the amendment
- There is an identity theft or fraud issue
- The amended return requires review of an appeal or reconsideration of a decision
- The same processing-time guidelines apply to both paper and electronic amended returns
- Direct deposits aren’t allowed for amended returns, according to the IRS
Remember that if the IRS finds an issue with your amended return, they will contact you about any additional information you need to provide. All of these requirements can be confusing, so ask a tax professional about your unique situation.
Contact the Experts at Silver Tax Group With Questions
The IRS frequently makes changes to tax return requirements. This makes it confusing and even overwhelming to try to meet all guidelines – and take steps like submitting an amended tax return when you realize you did something wrong the first time.
The team at Silver Tax Group is here to assist you with any questions or concerns about your tax return or amended tax return. We are tax experts and lawyers who deliver advisory services to individuals and businesses nationwide. We’re committed to providing our community with helpful tips and tax information to help you understand your requirements and deal with common tax problems.
We help walk you through submitting an amended tax return when you need to, or we’ll make sure you claim all applicable credits and reported your income properly.
Take a moment and reach out to Silver Tax Group today to speak to a tax expert about amended tax returns.