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How to File an Amended Tax Return

I just finished an amended tax return for a client this week. She originally efiled her tax return for free with H&R Block [1].

However, a few weeks later she received some 1099s reporting interest she had forgotten about. In addition, she didn’t know that she was eligible to claim the American Opportunity education tax credit [2] for her tuition.

When to File an Amended Tax Return

You’ll need to file an amended tax return if you made a mistake and need to fix your income, deductions, or credits.

In this case, my client needed to report the additional interest which affected her income, and she needed to claim the education tax credit.

How to File an Amended Tax Return

Amended tax returns have to be filed using the paper form 1040X, which is different from the original form 1040 [3] you used to file the first time.

You can find the 1040X in all the tax software programs like TurboTax [4]. You need to include a corrected income tax return with the amendment. Here’s how to complete the 1040X:

  • New Numbers. Include the numbers from your original tax return, your new tax return, and the difference between the two.
  • Explanation. You’ll need to explain to the IRS what you are changing and why. For example, if you forgot to claim your new car tax deduction [5], identify the change clearly and explain why. I also include the amount of the change and keep the explanations very concise.
  • Mail Your Return. Amended tax returns cannot be efiled, so you’ll have to mail them to the IRS. Don’t forget to sign and date your return before you drop it in the mail!

How Long to Keep your Amended Tax Return

After you file your amended tax return, keep your tax return for 3 years or 2 years from when you paid the tax if it’s later. For more information, see how long to keep tax returns [6].

Amended Tax Return Deadline

The deadline for filing amended tax returns is three years after the original tax deadline [7] on April 15. For example, a 2009 tax return can be amended until April 15, 2013.

The good news… our client will be getting back another $2,000 for filing an amended tax return!