When it comes to filling out your tax forms and filing your income tax return, the opportunity to make a mistake is virtually unlimited. With over 72,536 pages in the US Tax Code (source), it’s no wonder people make mistakes. If printed on standard copier paper on both sides, you’d have a book over 12 feet thick! It make me wonder how ANYONE can truly consider themselves a “tax expert” – there’s more information in that book than anyone can fathom, much less memorize.
With so many chances for me to make a mistake, I’m glad I use TurboTax!
How to correct tax mistakes
Should you find a mistake on your already filed tax return, never fear. You can make corrections by simply filing an “amended return.” To file an amended return, you’ll need to use Form 1040X, Amended US Individual Income Tax Return. Regardless of the original tax form you filed (1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR, or 1040NR-EZ), you’ll need Form 1040X to make any needed corrections.
Why would you need to amend a tax return?
You should file an amended return (Form 1040X) if you incorrectly reported:
- Your filing status (see How to Pick the Best Filing Status)
- Your number of dependents
- Your total income (see Worry About Forgotten Income)
- Your deductions
- Your tax credits claimed
When NOT to file Form 1040X
- If you discover math errors on an already filed tax return – don’t worry – the IRS will make any corrections for you and either alter your refund or send you a tax bill.
- If you forgot to include forms, such as your Form W-2s or schedules – the IRS normally asks for those forms once they realize they’re missing.
What if I discover I’m owed an additional refund?
If you are filing Form 1040X because you realized you were owed an additional refund, wait until you have received your original refund before filing Form 1040X. The IRS advises taxpayers to cash the original refund check while they wait for any additional refund.
What if I discover that I owe additional tax?
If you discover that you should file Form 1040X because you owe additional tax, DO NOT WAIT! File Form 1040X and pay your taxes as soon as possible to limit any interest and/or penalties that may be charged. And remember: interest is charged on any taxes not paid by the due date of the original return, even if an extension was filed and granted.
Other Form 1040X filing tips:
Make certain to enter the year of the return you are correcting (or amending) at the top of Form 1040X. Generally, Form 1040X must be filed within three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years from the date you paid your taxes, whichever is later. If your changes demand additional schedules or tax forms, attach them to the 1040X.
The beauty of using a tax preparation software like TurboTax or H&R Block Online is that so long as the information you enter is accurate, they both guarantee that their calculations are correct and they both explicitly list what forms, information, and schedules you need to file.