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Need to File An Amended 1040? Here's How


If you realize that you made an error on a Form 1040 that you’ve already filed, the IRS allows you to fix it.

There are so many reasons why the acceptance of your Form 1040 can be delayed by the IRS. Maybe you forget to sign it or you entered the wrong Social Security number or birth date. Or you come across a 1099 that you didn’t include on your return. Maybe you were looking over a copy of it later and realize you neglected to declare the income from your side gig.

The IRS will correct some mistakes on its own, like mathematical and clerical errors. It may even accept a return with missing forms or schedules. But it pays special attention to five areas: filing status, income, deductions, credits, and tax liability.

In cases like these, the IRS will catch up with you eventually and ask you to correct it. You can get a jump on that by filing an amended tax return, the Form 1040-X. This form is not as detailed as the 1040, but it looks similar. It’s divided into several areas: Income and Deductions, Tax Liability, Payments, Refund or Amount You Owe, and Dependents. There’s also space for you to explain why you’re filing an amended return. You can attach any documents necessary.

Many of the lines on the form contain three columns. One should contain your original figure. The second is for the amount by which it should increase or decrease, and the third contains the correct amount.

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Partial view of an IRS Form 1040-X

Here are the answers to some questions you might have about amended returns.

What forms can I amend?

You can amend the Form 1040, Form 1040-SR, Form 1040-A, Form 1040-EZ, Form 1040-NR, Form 1040-NR-EZ.

How soon should I file the Form 1040-X?

If you will owe the IRS more money than you originally paid because of the correction(s), submit the amended return as soon as possible. If you’re owed a refund, or more of a refund, you must file by whichever of these two dates is later:

  • Within three years after the date you originally filed the return in question
  • Within two years after the date when you paid the tax

Can I file the Form 1040-X electronically?

Yes, but only if you originally e-filed a Form 1040 or 1040-SR using tax software for tax years 2019 and 2020. For other years and forms, you’ll need to submit the paper version. You must also file on paper if that’s the method you used for your original return.

Can I file more than one amended return electronically?

Yes, you can file up to three accepted amended returns. After that, the Form 1040-X will be rejected.

Do I need to file a Form 8879 (IRS e-file Signature Authorization) when I submit an amended return?

Yes. You’ll need to file a Form 8879 every time you file a Form 1040-X.

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You must submit a Form 8879 every time you e-file an amended return.

Can I have my refund deposited directly if I e-file a Form 1040-X?

No, direct deposit is not available at this time.

Can I check on the status of my amended return?

Yes. Go to this page. The IRS is warning that processing is currently taking closer to 20 weeks than the usual 16 weeks, but you can start checking three weeks after you file the return. This tool can tell you whether your return is received, adjusted, or completed. You should not file a second return or try to call the IRS.

Why might the completion of my 1040-X be delayed?

There are several reasons. For example, it may:

  • Be unsigned
  • Contain errors
  • Not be completed
  • Require additional information from you
  • Has been affected by fraud or identity theft

Basically, your amended return may be delayed for some of the same reasons there was a problem with your original return.

By now, you’ve probably filed your 2021 return (or requested an extension). We hope you don’t have to amend it, but if you do, we’re here to guide you through the process. We can also help you get a jump on your 2022 income taxes by scheduling some tax planning sessions. Advance strategizing will make your preparation and filing much easier next spring, and is likely to reduce your tax liability. Let us know how we can assist.