Amending a Tax Return

If you file your individual tax return and then realize you made a mistake, you can change the return. Usually this involves filing IRS Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to 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'll get an IRS notice. The notice will tell you about the error and what information you need to submit to the IRS to correct it. See Incorrect Tax Return for more information. When the IRS sends you a notice about errors, 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 your address.

Before filing an amended return

Before you file an amended tax return: 

  • Verify the information the IRS has on file for you matches the tax year information you're 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 to your account, 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 your records.
  • Review and follow all the IRS Form 1040X Instructions before submitting your amended return. Be sure to read the “Special Situations” section for instances that have special conditions or rules you need to follow.

Filing an amended return

Important: You can't 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 can't 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 tax 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 time the IRS receives your return.

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

  • If it is before the regular due date of your individual tax 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 your individual tax 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.

The IRS won't process your amended return if:

  • You don't attach all the forms and schedules you are changing.
  • The amounts on your amended return don't match IRS 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 the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC), Advanced Child Tax Credit (ACTC), or American Opportunity Tax Credit (AOTC) if the reason you're filing is because you now have a valid Taxpayer Identification Number (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 didn't receive a valid TIN by the due date of the tax return (including extensions) you can't file a past due return or an amended return to claim any of these credits. A valid TIN could be an Social Security Number (SSN), Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN), or Adoption Taxpayer Identification Number (ATIN) depending on the requirement for each credit.

You can't 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, 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've tried repeatedly and aren't 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 January 12, 2018