How to Correct Mistake on a Federal Tax Return

Filing a federal tax return can be a formidable task when considering the pressures of accounting for income, dependents, exemptions, credits, etc.  With all that goes into preparing the proper forms, mistakes can happen quite easily.  When this occurs, the Internal Revenue Service has provided a means of correcting such mistakes. 

Form 1040X, “Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return,” will need to be filed to correct any mistakes made on an already filed federal tax return.  This form can be used to amend any federal tax return for any previous tax year.  A new Form 1040 will also need to accompany Form 1040X with the new information being accounted for on the form.  A Form 1040 must be filed regardless of whether you originally filed a 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ form.  Also, an amended federal tax return can not be submitted to the IRS electronically.  Paper forms must be prepared and mailed to the same processing center where you sent the original tax return forms.

Filing an amended federal tax return should not be done if you only need to correct mathematical errors.  Tax returns sent to the IRS are reviewed and any mathematical errors will be found and corrected.  Amended returns should only be filed when changes need to be made to originally reported income, the addition or removal of claimed dependents or tax credits, or to your originally reported filing status.  You can also file an amended return to report any additional exemptions or additional withholding.

Preparing a Form 1040X will allow you to show the differences between the previously filed federal tax return and the new Form 1040.  Also reported on the 1040X form are the reasons behind the need for the changes made to the previously filed tax return.  These reasons should be comprehensible and concise, providing enough documentation to support your claims so the IRS will accept your submission.  If the IRS feels the reasons for the amended return are insufficient, they will return the forms to you.

Making mistakes on a filed tax return is no laughing matter, but it’s no reason to panic either.  Gathering all the necessary information used to file the original return along with any additional information gained will prepare you for submitting the amended return.  Be sure to be careful when preparing the amended return to avoid any additional errors and the possibility of having to repeat this process.