Did you find something you should’ve listed on your tax returns? Did you list something that shouldn’t have been? You may need to file an amended tax return. In case you’re in doubt as to whether or not you should, here’s a simple guide explaining when- and how.

If an error is discovered on your federal income tax return (IRS Forms, 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ) after the time that it was mailed or filed online, you can file an amended return by using IRS Form 1040X.

The document itself will contain line-by-line explanations, along with mailing instructions. The rules that apply are as follows:

You must submit a paper version; they cannot be submitted online.

You must submit a separate 1040 X for every year’s return that is amended and they must be mailed in separate envelops.

You need to file Form 1040X within three years from the date that the original return was filed or within two years from the date the tax was paid, whichever occurred later. These deadlines may be extended in certain circumstances and the details of these can be found in these instructions or by consulting your tax professional.

If the amended return involves changes to some other form or schedule, you need to attach a revised version of that schedule or form.

If you’re filing to claim an additional refund on a recently filed return, you need to wait until you’ve received the original refund before filing Form 1040X. You may cash the original check while waiting for the additional refund.

On the other hand, if your amended return will result in you owing additional tax, file it right away to limit interest and penalty charges that might accrue. The IRS charges interest on any tax not paid by the due date of the original return, regardless of any extensions you may have requested.

You can expect to wait for an average of eight to twelve weeks for Form 1040X to be processed.

Now if the only reason you’re wanting to file an amended return is because of math errors, you don’t need to worry about it. The IRS will automatically make corrections and will then bill you for the additional tax that is required or will increase your refund in the occurrence of an error. You also don’t need to file if you simply forgot to attach tax forms or schedules. If the IRS needs them, they’ll request them.

However, filing an amended return may be the right decision if, you…

Gained additional or amended tax form statements from employers, investment brokers or banks after you filed your return (such as a W-2 or 1099 forms).

Forgot to report some of your income.

Overlooked credits or deductions that you could have claimed.

Claimed credits or deductions for which you did not qualify.

Claimed a dependent you shouldn’t have, or didn’t claim one that you should.

Choosing the wrong filing status (this can have serious impacts on your finances and you should consult your tax professional or certified public accountants if you’re in doubt as to what your status should be).

People who pay state income taxes should also be aware that their state tax liability could be affected by the changes made to federal returns.

Also, people who pay state income tax should be aware that their state tax liability may be affected by changes made to federal returns. For information on how to correct your state tax return, contact your state tax agency.

For advice or help in determining whether or not you should file an amended return, come visit us at our offices in Joplin, MO. We can help you get your taxes correctly filed and help put your mind at ease.