How to Amend Your Tax Return

by Kevin on March 2, 2010

First I told you doing your own taxes was educational.

Then I told you to watch out when you file your own taxes. You can make all sorts of tax filing and reporting mistakes that are costly to fix.

Today we’ll go over the first step on fixing mistakes you’ve made in filing your own taxes: filing an amended tax return.

Filing an Amended Tax Return

You’ve discovered a mistake on your taxes. Maybe you’re like me and you forgot to claim a big deduction. The government isn’t likely to give you a call and say, “Hey, you forgot to deduct this. Have some of your money back!”

You need to get it back on your own.

You Must File a Paper Amended Return

Even if you used software to file your taxes for the year you are trying to amend you must still send in a paper amended return. You’ll need to print off, fill out, and send in Form 1040X.

Steps to Filing an Amended Tax Return

Step one: Gather your documents and justification for filing an amended return. Being organized helps the tax filing process every year so learn the habit now.

Step two: Download the forms needed to file your return. You’ll need two of them. First, a new Form 1040 (US Individual Income Tax Return) followed by Form 1040X (Amended US Individual Tax Return) via the IRS website.

Step three: Fill out the new Form 1040. Since you aren’t using software to compute your return make sure you triple check your numbers. Don’t forget anything. You don’t want to have to do this again!

Step four: Fill out Form 1040X. There is a box to explain why you are amending that year’s return. Don’t forget to pick a year.

Then you must explain the reason for amending your tax return. Be short and to the point, but provide enough detail on why you’re filing. Example: “Found receipts for business web site hosting expenses (line 12 – Business Income or Loss).”

Step five: Make copies! You should retain copies of all of your tax forms. An amended form is no different. You want to have evidence in case the IRS sends you a letter.

What am I missing? Have you ever amended a tax return? Did you do it yourself or did you rely on an accountant?

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