Filing a tax return is a time-consuming but necessary process for workers in the U.S. If you don't file a tax return with the Internal Revenue Service and you are required to file, you may be subject to late filing charges, interest and other penalties. Once you submit a tax return, you can file a second tax return using a different form to change errors or oversights in the original return.
Amending a Tax Return
The process of filing an second tax return to make changes to an original return is called amending a tax return. You may need to amend your tax return if you need to correct errors on the original return, if you want to change your filing status or if you'd like to take advantage of tax credits or deductions you failed to claim in the original return. The IRS states that its staff will correct tax returns with simple math errors, in which case you do not need to amend your return.
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How to Amend a Return
Amending a tax return requires filling out and mailing a tax form similar to filing your original tax return. The IRS states that taxpayers must use Form 1040X to correct a previously filed Form 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ. The IRS allows taxpayers to download printable digital versions of the tax form from its website (See resources.). TurboTax states that you must mail a paper tax return to amend a previously filed return, even if you filed the original return electronically.
It is possible to submit a second tax return form to amend a return a year or more after the original return was filed. According to TurboTax, you must generally amend a return within three years of the date that you filed the original return. In other words, if you realize that you were eligible for a tax credit that would have saved you $1,000 on a tax return that is two years old, you can still amend your return and get a tax refund.
Taxpayers may file additional tax return documents for multiple past tax returns. For instance, if you qualify for a tax credit that you forgot to take on past returns, you may benefit from amending all of your returns that are less than three years old. According to TurboTax, you can even amend a return that you have amended in the past. In other words, you could file three or more tax returns for the same tax year, if necessary, to correct mistakes and oversights.