I made a mistake on my taxes

What should I do?

How to fix a mistake depends mainly on a few factors – if you filed a return or not, if you got a notice, and the kind of mistake you made.

But no matter what — take action. The longer you wait, the harder and more time-consuming it is to get a mistake fixed. In addition, if the correction means you owe more taxes, the IRS charges interest and penalties from the due date of that tax return until the account is fully paid. So the longer you wait to fix a mistake, the more expensive it can be.

After filing your tax return, you realize there was a mistake, but you haven’t received any type of notice from the IRS yet

If the due date for filing has passed, you can submit an amended tax return to correct most mistakes. Be aware that you can’t e-file an amended return — it has to be on paper. If you realize you made a mistake but the due date for filing hasn’t passed, do not file an amended return. Instead, file another original return with the correct information.

After filing, you got a notice from the IRS saying there was incorrect information on your return

This often happens before the return is fully processed – the IRS is giving you a chance to correct the return. The notice should explain what that issue is and how to respond. See Incorrect Returns for more information.

Note: if the change described in the IRS notice is different from what you think is incorrect, make sure you address both changes in your response.

After filing, you got a notice from the IRS saying your return is being audited

The audit can be either by mail, or in person. The notice will have specific information on how to proceed.

After filing, the IRS made changes to your return, but now you have new information

If the IRS made changes to your return during processing, you can submit an amended tax return.

If the IRS made changes to the return because of an audit or an IRS assessment under the Substitute for Return program, you may need to request an audit reconsideration.

You didn’t file a tax return, but later realize you need to file one

Maybe you didn’t think you needed to file a return, but later get some new information that means you should file (like receiving a late Form 1099).

If you’re not sure if you need to file, try IRS.gov’s Do I Need to File a Return tool.

 If the IRS hasn’t sent you a notice about it, you can just file that return, either through e-File (if the return is for within three years of the current tax year) or by paper.

Note: Be sure to use the correct forms and filing address for the specific tax year you need to file.

You didn’t file a return, and got a notice from the IRS that you needed to file

If you didn’t file a return by the due date, but IRS records show that you should have, you may get a notice. Reply to either explain why you don’t need to file or to submit your return.

If you don’t respond when the IRS says it is missing a return from you, the IRS may file a return for you, called a Substitute for Return. If it does that, and you disagree with the information the IRS used, you’ll need to follow audit reconsideration steps to correct it.

You just need to change your address

There are several ways to change an address – IRS.gov's Address Changes page lists all available options.

Still not sure what to do to fix that mistake?

If you still aren’t sure what to do, you can contact the IRS. If you haven’t gotten a notice with specific contact information, you can use the following toll-free numbers:

  • Individual taxpayers: 800-829-1040 (TTY/TDD 800-829-4059)
  • Business taxpayers: 800-829-4933

Otherwise, you should use the contact information in any notice sent to you.

You can resolve most mistakes on your own, but you can also get the help of a professional – either the person who prepared your return, or another tax professional.

Tips on how to choose a tax professional

If the mistake is causing you financial difficulties, or you’ve tried to work with the IRS and the IRS hasn’t responded, the Taxpayer Advocate Service may be able to help.

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, CPA, or enrolled agent associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic.

Browse common tax issues and situations at Get Help.

If your IRS problem is causing you financial hardship, you've tried repeatedly and aren't receiving a response from the IRS, or you feel your taxpayer rights aren't being respected, consider contacting the Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS).

You may be eligible for representation from an attorney, certified public accountant (CPA), or enrolled agent (EA) associated with a Low Income Taxpayer Clinic (LITC). LITCs also provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language.

Last modified March 21, 2018