Amending a Tax Return

If you file your tax return and then realize you made a mistake, you can amend the return. Usually this involves filing IRS IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, which will let you report changes to your income, deductions or credits. You may also be able to make certain changes to your filing status. 

If the IRS finds mistakes like a math error or missing schedule before you do, you will get a notice. The notice will tell you about the error and what information you need to submit to the IRS to correct it. See Incorrect Return for more information. With notices, there are usually other ways to correct errors besides an amended return.

If all you need to correct is your address, there are several ways to change the address.

Before filing an amended return

Before you file an amended tax return: 

  • Verify the information the IRS has for the tax year you are amending.
    • If you’re not sure what amounts your original return showed or you want to see any adjustments the IRS may have made, you should get a transcript.
      • For a record of your tax return, request a Tax Return Transcript.
      • For a record of any adjustments the IRS may have made, in addition to the amounts reported on your original return, get a Record of Account. Gather all documents such as a copy of all IRS Forms W-2 or W-2C, IRS Forms 1099 or 1099C, etc. that support the changes you wish to make. Be sure to keep copies for yourself too.
  • Review and follow all the IRS Form 1040X Instructions before submitting your form. Be sure to review the “Special Situations” section for instances that have special conditions or rules you need to follow.

Filing an amended return

Important: You cannot file an amended return electronically. You must mail it to the IRS.  

To file your amended return:

  • Use an IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return. 
  • Attach copies of all forms and schedules that you’re changing.
  • Mail all documents using the “Where to File” information in the IRS Form 1040X Instructions.  Generally, unless there’s a special situation or you’re submitting your form in response to an IRS notice, send it to the same IRS address where you filed your original return.
  • If you owe a balance, make a payment with the amended return if possible.  If you cannot make partial or full payment, there may be other options.

NOTE: If you’re changing your returns for multiple tax years, mail an IRS Form 1040X for each year separately.

Be aware:  Your state tax liability may be affected by changes on your federal return. For information on how to correct your state return, contact your state tax agency

The normal processing time for an IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return is between 8 and 12 weeks from the IRS receipt date.

If you owe a balance from the changes on your amended return: 

  • If it is before the regular due date of that return (generally April 15 of each year), file IRS Form 1040X, and pay the tax by the due date for that year (without regard to any extension of time to file) to avoid penalties and interest.
  • If you file and pay after the regular due date of that return, the IRS may charge interest and penalties. 

If you’re due a refund based on the changes you’re making, you generally MUST file the amended return within three years after the date you timely filed your original return (including extensions), or within two years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later, to get a refund.

Your amended return will not be processed if:

  • You fail to attach all the forms and schedules that are changing.
  • The amounts on your amended return do not match what the IRS has on its records from your original return.
    • Pay special attention to Column A of IRS Form 1040X: adjusted gross income, taxable income, and tax.  This is where most errors occur. 

The PATH Act prevents you from filing retroactive returns or amended returns claiming EITC, ACTC, or AOTC if the reason you are filing is because you now have the type of valid TIN required for each credit but didn’t have such TIN before the due date of the return.

If for any reason you or one of your family members did not receive a valid “taxpayer identification number” by the due date of the tax return (including extensions) you cannot file a past due return or an amended return to claim any of these credits. A valid taxpayer identification number could be an SSN, ITIN, or ATIN depending on the requirement for each credit.

You cannot file a past due return or an amended return to claim the EITC for anyone on the return without an SSN that’s valid for employment by the due date of the return including a valid extension.

You cannot file a past due return or an amended return to claim the AOTC or ACTC/CTC for anyone on the return without a valid identification number (SSN, ATIN, or ITIN) by the due date of the return including a valid extension.

If you aren’t sure what was on the original return, get a transcript. If you receive a notice that the IRS needs more information to process your amended return, send that information to the address on the notice within the time given to help speed up the processing.

Check the status of your amended return

You can check the status of your IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return using the "Where's My Amended Return?" online tool or the toll-free telephone number (866) 464-2050 three weeks after you file your amended return. Both methods are available in English and Spanish and track the status of amended returns for the current year and up to three prior years. 

Tax Topic 308, Amended REturns  

Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

Form 1040X Instructions, Instructions for Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return

IRS Questions & Answers about Amended Returns 

If you have more questions about a missing refund, visit “I don't have my refund.” 

Have a different tax issue?  Browse common issues and situations at Get Help.

Is your tax problem more complex?  If your issue is causing you financial hardship, you have tried repeatedly and are not receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights are being violated, consider contacting Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).

Do you feel that you need help from a tax professional but can’t afford one? You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Last modified May 31, 2017