Can I change my US tax return after I’ve filed it?
Amending your US Tax Return
Filing a US tax return can be a tricky process, especially if you live abroad or work as an expat.
With foreign income and investments, it’s easy to make a mistake when filing.
You could miscalculate some essential figures or forget to declare one of your overseas revenue streams or bank accounts.
But don’t worry, if you do realize later that you’ve filed incorrectly, there are ways to file an amendment on your tax return by sending Form 1040-X to the IRS. This will correct your calculations and hopefully help you avoid penalties.
What is Form 1040-X Used For?
The 1040-X is a form used specifically for making amendments to your tax return if you feel that you’ve made mistakes the first time around.
You can access this form online using the IRS website from the same place where you originally submitted your return.
You should only use this form if you’re correcting large errors on your return such as missing out parts of your income or assets. There are also occasions when there has been a recent change to your filing status or independents which may cause a change to your most recent tax year funding, such as the ability to claim tax credits. Form 1040-X can be used to amend any of these issues.
You shouldn’t use the form for clerical errors including spelling mistakes or incorrect tick boxes in the initial stages of filing. These issues are most likely to be corrected by the IRS when they review your form and check it against previous returns, so submitting a new form may become confusing and cause any refunds to be delayed.
When Can I Amend a US Tax Return?
You should submit Form 1040-X to amend your US tax return if:
- Your original mistake means that you’ve missed out on deductions or credit.
- You used the incorrect filing status initially.
- You need to remove a dependant or need to file to include a dependant.
- You didn’t claim all of your taxable income.
- You claimed expenses or credits that you aren’t eligible for.
- You feel that the information you’ve missed should entitle you to more of a refund.
Can I amend my US tax return if the figures are incorrect?
Usually, the IRS will amend the figures if they’re slightly off. They don’t expect you to be a mathematician. As long as you’ve selected all of the correct options and declared your income and assets, the exact figures can be amended by the IRS based on the information you’ve supplied and your previous returns.
As long as there aren’t massive gaps in your declared finance, you won’t often be penalised for minor mistakes. To be on the safe side though, it’s good practice to speak to a tax professional before filing to make sure you have everything in order. They can review your documents, filing status and credit claims to ensure everything goes through correctly the first time, saving you time and stress when filing an amendment later.
However, if an error is found and you actually owe more tax than you’ve paid, the IRS will send out a bill to be paid and give you a new deadline for this. Initially, there will be no penalty for this, and you’ll simply owe the extra tax. Failure to pay the remainder of your tax bill may result in penalties further down the line. Basically, it pays to get the numbers right the first time.
When Can I Amend My US Tax Return?
To use Form 1040-X to file an amendment to your US tax return you need to ensure that the tax return that you sent in previously has already been processed. This will eliminate any confusion with tax payments going through to the IRS.
You’ll know that your original tax return has been processed if you have already received your refund – this should come through within a few days of processing if you filed online, or up to 12 weeks later if you filed manually.
You can also check the status on the IRS website by inputting your details or by calling 866-464-2050.
If you wish to file an amendment, then you must do this after the original return has been processed but before the date that’s exactly 3 years from your filing date, or 2 years from the tax payment date, whichever is sooner.
If you have gone beyond these timeframes without submitting your amendment, then unfortunately, it’s already too late and any extra returns that you may have received from amending will no longer be refundable.
What if I’m way behind on my U.S. tax returns?
There is a special IRS program to help you catch up on your U.S. taxes safely, without fines and penalties
It’s for American citizens that didn’t know they had to file U.S. tax returns each year, and have therefore fallen behind. Some more than 30 years! With the IRS Streamlined Procedure, say goodbye to overdue tax returns, late fees, and penalties. If you have children, we can backdate your Child Tax Credit Refund for 3 years.
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How To Amend Your US Tax Return
Due to the complex nature of filing your tax return, the IRS has made it as simple as possible to correct any errors. You should always file your amendments in the same way that you filed your original return. Not only is this faster for you as you can maintain a lot of the original information, but it also helps the IRS to determine what the change is by making an easy comparison.
To amend your US tax return you’ll need to:
1. Gather Your Documents
You should have a copy of the original form that you submitted, which will unfortunately now be incorrect. However, it’s a starting point so you can make the amendment process a little faster.
You should also gather together any new documents that support your amendment.
If you intend to change information that comes in separate sections of your tax return which includes additional forms, these may need to be filled out again.
- Correcting income may need a new W-2 or 1099 form.
- Adding deductions, credits or charitable donations may need Form 1098.
- And Form 1098-T may be needed to add additional educational funding.
2. Ensure you Have the Right Forms
Alongside these documents, there may be other items on your tax return that are affected by the amendment that you’re making. Even if these sections were originally correct, the IRS may need you to submit the forms again to prove that no changes have been made to your wider income based on the change you’ve requested.
For example, changing any itemized deductions could affect the whole of your deduction amount, so you will need a copy of Schedule A for the tax year. Schedule B could be required for adding interest or dividends and additional expenses or revenues from business assets may need Schedule C.
It’s likely that you’ll need to send back the whole pack of forms again, even if there are very few amendments, so be prepared to trawl through forms that you have already filled in.
3. Fill Out Form 1040-X
Form 1040-X can seem a little scary. It contains 3 columns in total.
- Column A shows the figures on your original tax return (providing you file the amendment in the same way as you filed the previous return). This helps you to make a comparison between the older version and the one that you’d like to amend.
- Column B shows the amount that you’d like to add or remove from your original return based on the amendments that you’d like to make.
- Column C is your final total, adding or subtracting Column B from your Column A figure.
Each column has a fixed number of rows based on what you declared in your original return and there will be a specific row for each asset based on your original filing, so make sure you place the amounts in the right places.
4. Seek Professional Assistance
If you aren’t confident, seek help. A professional US tax service will be able to look over your amendments and ensure that you’re filing in the right place for the right items. Multiple amendments may cause further issues and a longer wait time for returns and depending on how long this amendment took, a second may not be feasible before you’re out of time, so get it right the first time.
5. Submit to the IRS for Review
From 2019, the IRS has allowed online tax return amendments, and this is the quickest way to see your results and returns. However, paper versions do still exist which you’ll be able to order and have delivered to your address.
Some professional tax firms, such as Expat Tax Online can e-file an amended tax return with the IRS.
E-filing also allows you to attach your supporting documents and any forms that you’ve had to fill in again to support your claims.
Remember, e-filing could see your refund sent back to you within a few days, whereas paper-based filing for amendments could take up to 16 weeks.
What Happens If You Don’t Amend Your Incorrect US Tax Return
While you might suddenly get that lightbulb moment and realize you’ve forgotten something, sometimes there are genuine mistakes made without you even noticing. If you fail to make an amendment in time, it could lead to the IRS thinking you left certain things out on purpose and unfortunately, it could result in fines or penalties and more thorough checking in the future.
To avoid this, it’s always best to seek help from a tax professional prior to filing your return. They can take a look at your accounts, income and assets and ensure you’re filing everything correctly under the rights forms.
They can also check back when you make an amendment to make sure that there’s nothing else missing before you submit. Multiple amendments can get messy and confusing for the IRS to process and amending your forms more than once could also cause the IRS to look more deeply into your return and uncover even more mistakes. If you’re struggling, don’t feel that you have to do everything yourself and speak to a professional who specializes in tax returns.
You should also bear in mind that if you have made an amendment to your federal tax return, it’s likely to also affect any state tax returns that you filed too, so you may need to revisit these.
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