Tax season can be stressful. With all the pressure to meet the deadline, it can be easy to miss something. The good news is, if you do make that mistake, you can file an amended return. Once you’ve filed it with the IRS, you can check the status of that return at IRS.gov/filing/wheres-my-amended-return.
What Is an Amended Return?
After you’ve filed a tax return, if you discover you’ve made a mistake on Form 1040 or one of its variants, you can use Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return to alert the IRS that you made a mistake. The IRS will take a look at the information you’ve updated and correct it in the system. In some cases, you may be asked to complete Form 1040-X after the IRS gets in touch with you to notify you of a problem with the return you submitted and to request additional information.
At one time, taxpayers had to complete a print form to amend their tax returns, then mail it in. But starting with the 2019 tax year, you can file your amended return electronically using the tax software you use to e-file your taxes. Electronic filing is only available if you used e-filing for your original return.
Read More: Amended Tax Return: How to File, Facts & More
When Are Amended Returns Used?
Form 1040x has its limits. You can use it for the following:
- Make corrections to Forms 1040, 1040-A, 1040-EZ, 1040-NR, or 1040-NR EZ.
- Make elections after the tax deadline has passed.
- Change amounts that the IRS has previously adjusted for you.
- Make a carryback claim if you’ve experienced a loss or have an unused credit.
You can use Form 1040-X to amend your income tax return for prior years. However, the IRS does generally only allow you to go back three years in amending your tax return. You can only file Form 1040-X electronically for the 2019 tax year and later. If you need to amend your state tax return, you’ll need to check with the department of revenue for your state return.
Amended Tax Return Turnaround Time
The IRS has a turnaround time of about 16 weeks for amended tax returns. This isn’t a set-in-stone timeline. It could be earlier or later, but the IRS gives it as a general guideline.
If you expect to get a refund from your amended return, direct deposit can speed that process up. If you normally get your refund through direct deposit, the information the IRS has on file will be used. You’ll need to have designated this as your preferred payment method when you filed your taxes to get the money that way.
Check Amended Tax Return’s Status
The best way to check your tax return’s status is by using the Where's my Refund? tool on the IRS website. However, it’s important to note that your status won’t be visible immediately. It could take up to three weeks for your amended tax return to show up there.
You can also check where's my amended return by calling the IRS, although that’s obviously the less convenient option for everyone involved. You’ll just call 866-464-2050. The IRS makes clear, though, that the Where’s My Amended Return? app is going to give you the most up-to-date information available on your status.
To get to your information, you’ll need to provide your Social Security number, date of birth and ZIP code for identity verification purposes. When you log in, once your return has been entered into the system, you’ll see it progress along the following statuses:
Reasons for Processing Delays
You’re using Form 1040x to correct your original return. But as with your original return, mistakes in your 1040-X can delay processing. If you find your return seems to be stuck in the system after a couple of months, there could be something wrong.
Here are some common reasons Form 1040-X gets delayed.
- Errors in calculations or information, such as entering the wrong Social Security number.
- Leaving crucial sections of the tax form blank.
- Failing to sign the form or, if filing jointly, failing to have your spouse sign.
Read More: How to Track Down Your Tax Refund
Delays Due to Information Requests
The IRS communicates about tax returns by postal mail. If, during your regular return or an amended return, the tax agency needs additional information about your tax situation to process your return, you’ll get a letter in your mailbox. It’s crucial to keep a close eye on your mail during the time you have a tax return processing to avoid delaying things.
The letter will detail what you need to do to get the IRS the information it needs. Often, you’ll just need to provide more information. In some cases, the letter just notifies you that there’s been a delay in processing and why there’s a delay.
If you receive an IRS information request by mail, check the information on it closely. Yes, scams can happen, but if it’s a legitimate IRS letter, it will have an identification number on either the top or bottom right-hand corner of the letter. If you have concerns, call the IRS at 800-829-1040.
Specialized Routing Within the IRS
Some amended tax returns will take longer by their nature. If your amended return includes a Form 8379, Injured Spouse Allocation, or needs routing to a specialized area, it could slow some things down. If your return involves bankruptcy, it will have to go through the IRS’s bankruptcy area, which could take a little extra time, as well.
If your amended return includes a request for an appeal or reconsideration of an IRS decision, it will have to go through a specialized process that can slow things down. Amended returns that need approval by a revenue officer can also take extra time. You likely know already if your amended return might need to be routed to a higher-up to make a decision, though, so allow a little extra time if that’s the case.
Filing an amended tax return is fairly simple, especially if you filed your original return electronically. Being able to go into your favorite tax preparation software and file your amended return electronically can save time and work. After three weeks have passed, you can start checking the Where’s My Amended Return? tool and monitor the progress.
- IRS.gov: Form 1040-X
- IRS.gov: Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, Frequently Asked Questions
- IRS.gov: About Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return
- IRS.gov: Get Your Refund Faster: Tell IRS To Direct Deposit Your Refund To One, Two, or Three Accounts
- IRS.gov: Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter
- Internal Revenue Service. "Instructions to Form 1040X," Page 3. Accessed Jan. 6, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Instructions for Form 1040X," Pages 7-8. Accessed Jan. 6, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Instructions for Form 1040X," Pages 8-9. Accessed Jan. 6, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Form 1040X," Pages 1-2. Accessed Jan. 10, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Amended Returns." Accessed Jan. 10, 2020.
- IRS. "IRS announces Form 1040-X electronic filing options coming this summer; major milestone reached for electronic returns." Accessed July 9 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Instructions for Form 1040X," Page 7. Accessed Jan. 6, 2020.
- Internal Revenue Service. "Instructions for Form 1040X," Page 3. Accessed Jan. 6, 2020.
Stephanie Faris has written about finance for entrepreneurs and marketing firms since 2013. She spent nearly a year as a ghostwriter for a credit card processing service and has ghostwritten about finance for numerous marketing firms and entrepreneurs. Her work has appeared on The Motley Fool, MoneyGeek, Ecommerce Insiders, GoBankingRates, and ThriveBy30.