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When to file an amended return

If there’s an error or omission on your tax return, you should amend it. If you don’t, you could be slapped with an IRS penalty if you have an unpaid balance — or miss out on a refund if the tax agency 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 that were due, you must file the amendment within two years after the date you paid.

It pays to be proactive. If you miss the cutoff dates, the IRS may not honor your amended return, which can lead to expensive problems. If you’re not sure how to get started, consider speaking to a tax professional.

Once you’ve filed your amended return, you can track the status of it.

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Where's my amended tax return?

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

Check your amended return online

Visit the "Where’s My Amended Return?" page on the IRS’ website. 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 a change to your return, so you may get a tax refund or an 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.

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

Check your amended return by phone

If you’re unable to use the online tool, you can call the IRS directly at 866-464-2050.

Why does the process taking so long?

The IRS website currently notes that processing an amended return is taking more than 20 weeks, up from the usual 16 weeks.

The IRS has been struggling to keep up its normal processing times because of a number of pandemic-related reasons, including a "higher-than-usual" number of returns in their backlog, as well as increased number of filings as a result of various tax law changes.

The number of amended tax returns filed topped 5.8 million in 2021, according to IRS projections, and they project 4.5 million to be filed in 2023.

The process can be delayed over various issues, including:

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

In those cases, the IRS may send the amendment back and ask you for more information.

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.

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When can I expect my refund?

Because the IRS is taking more time processing amended returns, refunds will take longer, too. So be prepared for a wait.

Note: If you do have money coming as a result of an amended return, the IRS will mail you a check. The agency is not offering direct deposits for any refunds related to a Form 1040-X.

Overview

If you need to correct something on your tax return, it’s easy to file an amended return and track it when you understand the procedure. If you left something off your return or made an error, you should amend it and submit Form 1040-X as soon as possible.

If you wish to cut down the time it takes to complete the amended tax return form, or just want to make sure everything is correct before you submit the form, it may be helpful to talk with a tax professional directly.

More: How to find your tax bracket

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About the Author

Nancy Sarnoff

Nancy Sarnoff

Freelance Contributor

Nancy Sarnoff is a freelance contributor with Moneywise. Previously, she covered commercial and residential real estate for the Houston Chronicle where she also hosted Looped In, a podcast about the region’s growth, development and economy. Her work has been recognized by the National Association of Real Estate Editors and the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

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Disclaimer

The content provided on Moneywise is information to help users become financially literate. It is neither tax nor legal advice, is not intended to be relied upon as a forecast, research or investment advice, and is not a recommendation, offer or solicitation to buy or sell any securities or to adopt any investment strategy. Tax, investment and all other decisions should be made, as appropriate, only with guidance from a qualified professional. We make no representation or warranty of any kind, either express or implied, with respect to the data provided, the timeliness thereof, the results to be obtained by the use thereof or any other matter.