I made a mistake on my taxes

Alert: To protect the public and employees, and in compliance with orders of local health authorities around the country, certain IRS services such as live assistance on telephones, processing paper tax returns and responding to correspondence are extremely limited or suspended until further notice. Get up-to-date status on affected IRS operations and services.

What should I do?

You have many options on how to fix a mistake on your tax return depending on whether you received a notice and the kind of mistake you made.

No matter what kind of mistake you made, it's important that you take action. The longer you wait, the harder and more time-consuming it is to fix a mistake. In addition, if the correction means you owe more taxes, the IRS charges interest and penalties from the due date of your tax return until you pay your account in full. 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 an IRS notice

If the due date for filing your tax return has passed, you can submit an amended tax return to correct most mistakes. You can’t electronically file an amended tax return. You must mail it to the IRS. If you realize you made a mistake but the due date for filing hasn’t passed, don't file an amended tax return. Instead, file another original tax return with your correct information.

You got an IRS notice saying there was incorrect information on your tax return

This often happens before the tax return is fully processed – the IRS is giving you a chance to make a correction. The notice should explain the issue and how to respond to the IRS. See Incorrect Tax 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.

You got an IRS notice about the IRS auditing your tax return.

The IRS performs audits by mail or in person. The notice will have specific information on how you should proceed.

The IRS made changes to your tax return, but now you have new information

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

If the IRS made changes to the tax return because of an audit or an IRS assessment, 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 tax return, but later got some new information that means you should file (like receiving a late Form 1099).

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

If the IRS hasn’t sent you a notice about filing a tax return and you need to file one, go ahead and electronically file it if it’s for one of the three tax years before the current tax year. If the tax return is for a tax year older than that, then it has to be mailed to the IRS.

Note: Be sure to use the correct forms and mail it to the right IRS address for the specific tax year you need to file.

You didn’t file a tax return, and got an IRS notice stating that you needed to file

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

If you don’t respond to the IRS's notice, the IRS may file a tax return for you, called a Substitute for Return. If it does file a tax return for you 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 your address – IRS.gov's Address Changes page lists all available options.

Still not sure what to do to fix your 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 IRS 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 tax return, or another tax professional.

Tips on how to choose a tax professional

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).

Browse common tax issues and situations at Get Help.

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) for little or no cost. Low Income Taxpayer Clinics also provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language.

Last modified June 11, 2020