Made a Mistake? How to Amend a Prior Year’s Tax Return

By Wednesday, July 9, 2014 0 Permalink

Have you recently made the scary realization that you made a mistake in filing a prior year’s tax return? If so, then you may be in a bit of a panic and wondering what steps you should take next. First of all, it is important that you relax; so long as it has been less than three years since the date you originally filed, you will have the option to amend your tax return without penalty from the IRS. However, you should do your best to be careful in filing your taxes in the future, as amending even once may make you more likely to be chosen for a tax audit.

The first thing that you will need to do in order to amend a previous year’s tax return is a copy of IRS form 1040X, which is the form needed for amending. You can find a printable copy of this form on the official IRS website. Furthermore, it is helpful to have a copy of the original tax return on hand so that you can refer to it and see what specific changes need to be made. You can obtain a copy of a previous year’s tax return by contacting the IRS or your tax service, if applicable.

Before you get started in filling out the form 1040X, it is also advisable to have on hand all of your earnings statements and tax forms from the applicable year. This includes all W2s, 1099s, interest reports, and anything else that you would typically need to file your taxes.

From there, simply follow the instructions on the form 1040X, as this will walk you through the steps you need to complete the form successfully. The ultimate goal of filling out this form is to adjust differences between the original income or tax your reported to what the actual amount should be, so this will likely require you to do some calculations. The IRS website estimates that the average amount of time that it takes to complete form 1040X is approximately 3.5 hours, so keep this in mind as you plan on when you will decide to complete this.

Once your form is filled out, be sure to write your name and social security number on all forms before mailing it to the IRS. Also, take a few minutes to review your calculations and make sure that they are correct; the last thing you want is to have to file another 1040X due to a simple math mistake! If at any time you run into trouble filling out the form, be sure to seek help from tax professionals.

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