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By Marcia Richards Suelzer, Toolkit Staff Writer
Although most people strive to be one-hundred percent accurate when filing income tax returns, there are times when the original return needs to be corrected or changed. If your filing status, your dependents, your total income or your deductions or credits were reported incorrectly, then it is wise to make the correction as soon as you discover the error. You should also amend your return if you realize that you neglected to claim a tax deduction or credit (such as the Making Work Pay credit) that you were entitled to claim.
Tip. Unless the IRS has specifically directed otherwise, you do not need to amend your return if the IRS has already found your math errors or has requested missing forms (such as Form W-2s) or supporting schedules (such as Form 1040, Schedule B) when they processed the original return.
Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, is used to amend a previously filed income tax return regardless of whether the original return was filed using Form 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ. Unlike the income tax returns themselves, Form 1040X is not issued annually. Therefore, you need to make sure you check the box for the year of the return you are amending on the Form 1040X. Form 1040X cannot be filed electronically; it must be mailed to the address provided in the Form 1040X Instructions.
In some cases, you may need to amend more than one year's return. This is often the case if you have a net operating loss carryback for one year. One method of getting the tax benefits of the carryback is by filing an amended return for each of the carryback years. If you are amending more than one year's tax return, then you should prepare a 1040X for each return and mail them in separate envelopes to the appropriate IRS processing center.
Completing the Form 1040X
The Form 1040X has three columns, with a area on the back of the form to explain the specific changes and the reason for the change.
If the changes involve other schedules or forms, attach them to the Form 1040X.
When to File
Generally, to claim a refund, you must file Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original return or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. However, if you owe additional tax, you should file Form 1040X and pay the tax as soon as possible to limit interest and penalty charges. If you are filing to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original refund before filing Form 1040X. You may cash that check while waiting for any additional refund. Normal processing time for amended returns is 8 to 12 weeks.
Posted September 16, 2010.