Oops! There’s a Mistake in My Taxes, How Do I Fix It? Amended Returns

When you have a tax "oops" you fix it by filing an Amended Tax Return, form 1040X.

When you have a tax “oops” you fix it by filing an Amended Tax Return, form 1040X.

Mistakes happen.  You file your return and later get a W2 in the mail for a job you had forgotten about.  Maybe your investment firm sent you an amended 1099 because your interest income they reported was wrong.  Or maybe you were talking to a friend and learned about a deduction that you should have been claiming for the past three years and you’d like a refund.  What do you do?

It’s easy, you need to file an amended return, the form is called a 1040X and you can find it on the IRS website:  http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/f1040x.pdf.

An amended return can’t be filed electronically like a regular return.  You must mail it in and it’s going to take about 12 weeks to process.   That’s a bummer if you’re expecting a refund, but that’s the way it works.   If your regular return had a refund, make sure you wait until you’ve received the first refund before you file the amended return.  (If they start processing the amended return before your original refund gets paid, it can mess up you getting the original refund.  You don’t want that to happen now do you?)

If you have more than one tax return that needs to be amended, you must file separate returns for each year and mail them in separate envelopes.  For example, say you found out that you had missed a $1000 deduction on your Schedule A every year and you’re in the 25% tax bracket.  You can’t just put $3000 on this year’s return for a $750 refund.  You’ll have to amend 2010, 2009, and 2008 separately and you’ll receive three checks for $250 each.  It’s too late now to claim a refund that should have gone on 2007.

When you amend your tax return, you’ll have to send in the schedules of anything that changed.  In the example above, the thing that changed was on the schedule A, so that form would also have to be attached.  Don’t attach any forms that didn’t change.  Warning:  for many folks, a change in one part of your tax return can cause a change somewhere else-most notably on your schedule A.  Before you actually mail anything in, go over it carefully to see if you have any unexpected changes.

When you file a 1040X, make sure you check the box for the tax year that you’re amending.   That’s a pretty common mistake.  The IRS can’t process the return if they don’t know what year it’s for.

When not to file an amended return:  You don’t need to file an amended return for a basic math mistake.  The IRS will automatically fix that for you.  You also don’t need to file an amended return if your original was missing a schedule.  That’s where you get a letter from the IRS saying that you claimed something on your return but that you’re missing the supporting documents.  A common example of that would be a capital gain of $2000 on your return, but there’s no schedule D to back it up.  You don’t need to amend the return, just mail them the schedule D.   The IRS will ask you for whatever schedule they’re looking for, you won’t have to guess at what’s missing.

I’ve talked a lot about filing an amended return because of a refund.  Sometimes when you file an amended return you’re going to owe.  If you have a balance due, mail the payment check with your 1040X.  The IRS will probably send you a bill for interest and maybe even penalties depending upon how much you owed.  Be prepared for that.

Often times, people are thinking about filing amended returns because they received an IRS letter.  Sometimes, you don’t need to amend, just pay the tax.  Sometimes, you really need to amend because you shouldn’t have to pay the tax but you need to submit more information.  Sometimes, you don’t need to amend and you don’t need to pay the tax—the IRS made a mistake and they just need to have it pointed out to them.  Before you start writing that check, get a professional opinion–you want to pay your fair share, not more than you owe.

730 thoughts on “Oops! There’s a Mistake in My Taxes, How Do I Fix It? Amended Returns

  1. Hi Lynn,
    First, I would call your local HR Block office and ask them to fix it. If they are not responsive, then you can call the 1-800-HRBLOCK number. Now, I know that number is a bit of a run-around, but hang on until you get a human. When Block makes a mistake, they should be good about fixing the problem. If your local office won’t help, a little pressure from corporate headquarters should do the trick.
    If that doesn’t help, you may be able to call your state department of revenue yourself. You shouldn’t have to run around for this, you should be able to do it all over the phone. Good luck.

  2. Hi Darshane,
    You should amend your return. If you don’t, eventually you will get a letter from the IRS, probably correcting the tax you owe. I would think you’ve pay less tax fixing it yourself (and writing off your deductions.)

  3. Hi Sally,
    I’m not sure I understood your question. You filed a tax return for your dependent, and now you want to claim her? If you filed her as single with zero exemptions, then you’re fine – you just claim her and you do nothing to her return. If you had her claim herself, then you amend your return to zero exemptions.
    At least, I think that’s what you’re asking. If that wasn’t the question, I apologize.

  4. Hi Lynn,
    If your return gets rejected, then just correct the EIN and resubmit. If the return goes through, just make a note in your file in case you get a letter. But I would not submit an amended return, it won’t change your tax. It’s only a problem if you get a letter – which is why I say to keep a note in your file. I’m guessing you’ll never hear a thing about it.

  5. I filed my return with hr block.the preparer put the wrong town on paperwork causing my CT tax refund being withheld.the state sent a letter which went to wrong address.what can I do to correct this.ivam handicapped and can’t run around

  6. What do I do when I accidentally filed tax for my dependent who is earning less then $6300 and want to take their earning out and just want to claim them as dependent? Do I just file 1040X as you said? Or is it a different matter?

    Thank you Jan in advance!

  7. I may have entered the wrong EIN for my childcare facility. Will that cause me issues or can I be approved then ammend with the correct EIN?

  8. Hi James,
    It’s more likely that your return is being held up due to the EIC, child tax credit or College tax credit than anything else. No refunds for returns with any of those credits are being paid before February 15th. I wouldn’t send the 1040X until they’ve actually processed your refund.

  9. Hi John,
    First step is to adjust your withholding. If you owe over $9,000, you may need to claim zero and maybe even have some extra taken out of your check. You can’t go back and change what happened for 2016, so you’ll just have to pay the tax. If you don’t have the money, you can go online and do an installment agreement. But if you can pay it now, it’s better to be done with it.

  10. Hi, I made an mistake and filed a 2106, for expenses related to my job, but I realized that I put I was a local government employees but I am not. My return has been held for 16 days so far and I have 1040x form ready (my mistake gave 60 extra dollars) my concern is whether or not it will trigger an audit, I have always used standard deductions.

  11. Hi Ashley,
    I’m sensing a problem but not the one you expect. What is your real relationship to the child. You say she is your child – but if she’s your child – why are you calling her your niece? Or foster child? Where is the real parent? You really need to get your ducks in a row on this. Find a reputable preparer and find out what you can or cannot do. If it is illegal for you to claim the child, amend those returns before the IRS amends them for you.

  12. Hi Amanda,
    The ID is not part of the tax return. Some states are requiring the ID though. Either the return is going to go through, or it will get rejected because of the ID issue. If it gets rejected, I’d just fix it and resend. If it goes through, then I guess it went through. There’s nothing else to do.

  13. Hi Sassy,
    It’s weird that they accepted your return with the wrong social, but I have seen it happen before. If the IRS accepted your return this year with no problem, I’d just leave it. If you get a letter, then write back with an explanation about the typo.

  14. Hi i just noticed a typo error on last year 2016 returns one of dependant social last four digits where entered wrong i did receive my refubd last year but i entered it correctly this year and irs sent a email confirmation that they received my 2017. Will this be an issue how do i fix this error from last year

  15. My taxpreparer selected my child as foster child last year and I’m just noticing it this year so I corrected it to niece. Will this affect my refund? Will it cause any problems?

  16. I lost my Id and did my own taxes so at the end it asked me for my id number which I did have but I put the wrong issue date and expiration date whats gonna happen?

  17. I just realized I’ve made a mistake on my w4 by putting 3 allowances instead of 0. I’m in the process of doing my taxes and it says I owe $9960. I just caught the mistake now I even went back to look at my previous w2 from 2015 and it says 3 allowances and I never realized it till now. What should I do?

  18. Hi, i claimed my state refund twice as income. Didn’t catch it til i filed. I sent in an amended tax form.Just getting more back. How will this affect my filing of my state taxes, since the AGI that was filed is the wrong amount.I haven’t filed my state yet.

  19. Hi Lamikia,
    Hmmmm. Sounds fishy but – maybe she didn’t send it off in the first place and you caught the mistake before it actually got sent? Or maybe it got rejected the first time and when you discovered the missing child she was able to add her before re-sending? I can see some possible situations.

    To the best of my knowledge, you still are required to mail 1040X returns (that’s the amended form.) I’ve heard they are going to change that, but I don’t think you can e-file a 1040X yet.

  20. My tax preparer didn’t put one of my dependents on my tax refund and she said she resent it off and it came back as it accepted can she really do that

  21. Hi Michelle,
    I’m kind of surprised that your return got accepted with the wrong birth date on it. But, I’m always getting surprised. Anyway, the birthday for your daughter will not change your tax return so there is not need to amend. If you do get a follow up letter from the IRS, you’ll just have to explain the typo, but I’m betting that you won’t even get one.

  22. Hi, I made a typo on one of my daughters date of birth. Instead of inputting 5/29 I typed in 5/09. Should I file an amendment? I filed through Turbo Tax and was send an email saying my return was accepted by the IRS but on the IRS site it only says Received. Anyone out there have some advise for me?

  23. Hi Cathy,
    If you genuinely qualify for for the head of household filling status you can amend your tax return. But first, run the numbers and see if it makes a difference – sometimes, changing your filing status doesn’t change your refund. If that’s the case, then don’t bother to amend. There’s no harm done if it doesn’t change your refund.

  24. Hi Tricia,
    Your W4 tells your employer how much to withhold. Head of household fling status is a lower tax rate than the single tax rate. The worst that can happen is that you didn’t withhold enough money for your taxes and you might owe come April. So do your taxes as soon as possible to figure out how much you owe (if at all), and start saving if you need to. But it’s not like you did something horrible. It was just an honest mistake. Don’t worry about it.

  25. On my w4 I accidentally selected filing single and also head of household , and didn’t realize it til now, I’m not head of household, but am single

    I do not work at the job I had when I filled that out, I’m freaking out, because I don’t want to get into trouble, how do I fix this? I live in Washington state

  26. Hi Jessica,
    If you have a refund coming from Maryland, you will only receive the refund for 2012. The other returns are out of statute. Usually, a state will approve your amended return if the federal government accepts your changes. And, for what it’s worth, I have never seen a state return a payment that was made with an amended return with a note saying “Oh, we don’t have proof from the IRS that this is right.” I have, on the other hand, had clients get letters from states going the other way – “The IRS hasn’t approved your amended return, so until they do – you still owe us the money!”
    So, will they take your federal taxes? You mean if you’re getting a refund? It depends. If there is a lien against the taxes, then yes, they will. If there is no lien, then they won’t.

  27. Hi Janelle,
    I’m guessing that you own a small business and are either taking a home office deduction or talking about your office rent? If you used the wrong number and it makes a difference on your taxes, then yes, you should amend.

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