What You Should Know about Filing an Amended Tax Return

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How to Prepare an Amended Return

Amending your tax return is a two-part process. First you will need to prepare a new tax return. Use the long Form 1040 and any additional schedules. Secondly, report the revised figures on Form 1040X.

Part One: Preparing a new 1040. As we will discuss below, the IRS scrutinizes amended tax returns a little more carefully. That means you need to exercise extra vigilance to make sure your new 1040 is as complete as possible.

It does not matter if you filed your original tax return using 1040EZ or 1040A forms. You will need to fill out a full 1040 for the amended return, because you will need to match up line items from your new Form 1040 to the various lines on Form 1040X.


Also, attach all necessary schedules, forms, and documentation to your new 1040. It's essential to include any forms that have been added or revised so the IRS has a complete set of information about the changes you are making.


Part Two: Preparing Form 1040X. Before starting in on the Form 1040X, you need to have in front of you: your original tax return and your new Form 1040. Form 1040X basically summarizes information from your newly revised Form 1040. You will be transferring information from your corrected 1040 to the 1040X form.

The most important part of the entire Form 1040X is Part III, on the second page of the Form 1040X. Part III is where you get to explain the changes being made to your previously filed tax return. Clear and concise explanations can help the IRS process your amended return more efficiently.

If you need additional space that what's provided, you can type up a separate statement. For example, let's say you forgot to include wages from a W-2. The Part III explanations might read as follows:

  • "We are reporting additional wages and additional withholding from a W-2 we forgot to include on our previous tax return. This resulted in changes to our adjusted gross income, taxable income, total tax, and refund. Enclosed is a new 1040, as corrected, with a copy of the W-2 attached."
The idea is to be concise, and point the IRS agent to the specific changes you are making and where they can find those revisions in your documentation.

Some extra things to watch out for when preparing your Form 1040X.

Indicate the appropriate tax year you are amending at the top of Form 1040X. Form 1040X is a generic form and can be used for any tax year. If you need to revise several different tax returns, you will need to submit separate Forms 1040X for each year.

Check the numbers and your math. Check it twice.


Check the refund or amount you owe calculations on lines 17 through 22. If you received a bigger refund on your original tax return than you should have, you will need to pay back some of your refund. If your original refund was smaller than you could have received, you will get an additional refund by filing an amended return. Be aware that you have the option to have some or all of your refund applied as an estimated payment to next year's estimated tax. If you want this option, indicate the tax year to which you want the IRS to apply payments on Line 22. Refunds from amended returns cannot be issued via direct deposit.


Sign and date the amended return. If an accountant helps you prepare the amendment, the accountant must sign and date the amended return as well.


Next: What to Expect from the IRS
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