Tips for Filing Amending Returns.

  1. First of all remember that amended tax returns aren’t mandatory and you are not bound to file an amended return, even though your tax professional may tell you it’s a good idea. This is due to the fact that the IRS will probably send you a bill based on the revised Form 1099 or K-1 once they match that form against your Form 1040. However, if you knew your return was incorrect when you filed it, you should amend it and correct the mistakes without any delay. Rarely does the IRS bring up an originally filed return in civil audits or criminal prosecutions once the taxpayer attempts to fix the discrepancy by filing an amended return. But to take advantage of this opportunity, you need to be quick and make the correction before the IRS finds the error.
  1. You can’t be selective in what you correct. You don’t have to file an amended return, but if you do, you must be sure to correct everything involved. You can’t go back and only change the things that alter your tax liability. All errors must be fixed as a whole.
  1. Not everything is worth the trouble of amending. Math errors are not a good enough reason to amend in most cases since the IRS will correct simple errors on your return. Also, you shouldn’t file an amended return if you realize you forgot to add a Form W-2, attach schedules or similar mistakes of the same kind. The IRS can process the return without them and will request them if the need them. Also, some parts of the original return can’t be changed by submitting an amended return. For example, you can change your filing status on an amended return from married filing separate to joint, or from widower to head of household. However, you can’t change from married filing joint to filing separate after the due date for the original return has come and gone (normally April 15).
  1. Timing is everything. You need to file a Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return within three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever comes later. This timeline may give you some extra time, but it’s better to amend within three years of the original return so there’s no argument. It’s never too soon to file the amended return, but if you’re hoping to secure an additional refund, you should wait until you’ve already received the original refund before filing Form 1040X. You can also go ahead and cash the first check while waiting for the additional funds.
  1. You should also remember that amended returns can only be filed on paper, so even if you filed the original online, you’ll have to file the amended on paper. These are prepared on Form 1040X. You can use this form if you’ve already filed Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. Label the top clearly with the year you’re wishing to amend.

 

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