Why fixing your tax return is a good idea

Indianapolis - Circa March 2020: 1040 Tax forms from the IRS. Form 1040 is used by U.S. taxpayers to file an annual income tax return.
Jonathan Weiss / Shutterstock

If there’s an error or omission on your tax return, then you should amend it. If you don’t, you could be at risk of Internal Revenue Service penalties if you have an unpaid balance, or you could miss out on your refund if the IRS owes you money.

You must file the amendment within three years of the original tax return due date (plus any extensions you were given). If you paid any taxes due, then you must file the amendment within two years after the date you paid.

If you miss those cutoffs the IRS may not honor your amended return, which can lead to expensive problems — so it pays to be proactive. If you’re not sure how to get started, then consider speaking to a tax professional, like one of the experts at H&R Block.

Once you’ve filed your amended return, you can track how the IRS is handling it.

Where's my amended tax return?

You can check the status of your amended tax return in a couple of ways.

Online

Visit the IRS’ "Where’s My Amended Return?" page. Enter your information (Social Security number, date of birth and ZIP code), and the amended return tool will provide you with a status update.

Note: It can take up to three weeks for an amended return to show up in the IRS' system. When it does appear, you’ll see that it's been put into one of the following categories:

  • "Received": The IRS has received your amended return and is processing it.
  • "Adjusted": The IRS made the change to your return, so you may get a tax refund or adjusted tax bill.
  • "Completed": The IRS is done processing your amended return and will mail details to you.

Once the amended return turns up in the tax agency's system, you can check its status daily. The IRS updates its records each day.

But some types of amended returns can’t be tracked using the online tool. Examples includes an amended business tax form or an amended tax return with a foreign address.

By phone

Try the online tool first, but if any issues arise or if the online tool tells you to check by phone instead, then you can call the IRS automated line at 866-464-2050.

Note: Phone representatives won’t be able to track the status of your return until 16 weeks have passed since you mailed it.

How long does the process normally take?

Months and dates shown on a calendar whilst turning the pages
Brian A Jackson / Shutterstock

The IRS website warns that processing an amended return can take as long as 16 weeks, but some issues can draw out the time line even longer, including:

  • If there are errors on your amended return.
  • If your form isn't complete.
  • If you forgot to sign the form.
  • If you've fallen victim to identity theft or fraud.

The IRS may send the amendment back and ask for more information from you.

You have the right to appeal a verdict or submit a request for reconsideration after a decision has been made about your amended return and whether you owe any additional money.

Where's my amended return refund?

The IRS may take more time processing the amendment than it did with the original tax return. The same goes for any refund. Be prepared for a wait.

Note: If you do have money coming as a result of an amended return, the IRS won't direct-deposit it to you. It’ll mail a check instead.

Next steps

Need to correct something on your tax return? It’s easy to file an amended return and track it, when you know what to do. If you left something off your return or made an error, then you should amend it and submit Form 1040-X.

If you need help, wish to cut down the time it takes to complete the amendment, or just want to make sure everything is correct before you submit the form, then speak to a tax professional.

About the Author

Alex Denholm

Alex Denholm

Freelance Contributor

Alex Denholm is a freelance contributor to MoneyWise.

You May Also Like

Take a Break From Your Debt This Month

Let debt consolidation give you a break.

How Refinancing Affects Your Credit Score

A refi can have can have an impact on your score — but you can take action.

Historically Low Mortgage Rates Keep the Savings Going

Rates are hovering near all-time lows, to the benefit of homebuyers and homeowners.

As Mortgage Rates Sink, Borrowing Bounces Higher

With rates going lower and lower, more borrowers decide it's time to act.