Everyone makes mistakes now and then. (Don't tell the hubby that I admitted that!)
When it comes to mistakes on tax returns, the Internal Revenue Service gives us a second chance, up to a point.
You can add or subtract personal exemptions if on your original 1040 there was some confusion as to whether you properly claimed a dependent.
You also can change your filing status. That's not a problem in most cases.
But if it's after the tax filing deadline and you're a tax disgruntled spouse who wants to change a previously filed 1040 from married filing jointly to filing your own married but separately filed return, you're stuck with your spouse, at least with regard to that filing.
If, however, you learn that combining your tax data on one return will save you tax dollars, then you go from two married filing separately returns to one jointly filed 1040.
And if your changes involve a schedule or form you originally filed, attach that document to the amended return.
Why refile? In most cases, folks file an amended return because they discovered a mistake or tax break oversight that cost them money.
If you do file Form 1040X to claim an additional refund, wait until you have received your original refund check before sending in your amended return. The good news is that you can go ahead and cash that original refund check.
But you also should file a Form 1040X if you realize you underpaid your tax. And you should do so as soon as you discover the mistake.
Chances are the IRS will also find your error. By the time that happens, your underpayment penalty and interest charges have been running a while. So cut those off as soon as possible by filing Form 1040X as soon as possible.
One other important timing factor to note. You must file an amended return within three years from the due date of your original tax filing or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
And remember that your state tax bill also could be affected by a change to your federal return. So check with your state tax department on how to correct that filing.
Tracking amended returns: If you filed an amended return, particularly one that will get you more refund money, you definitely will want to know where your 1040X is in the IRS processing stream.
Good news. Although you can't file Form 1040X electronically (the IRS says it's working to make this happen, but right now you still have to send in the paper form via snail mail), you can check the status of your filed amended return online.
Just head over to the IRS' online tracking tool Where's My Amended Return?
There you can find the status of a Form 1040X for the current year and up to three prior years.
Be patient, though.
The IRS says it takes up to 12 weeks from the date the agency receives your 1040X for it to be processed. It takes about three weeks, says the IRS, from the date you mailed your 1040X for it to show up in the system.
After those three weeks, you can go to the online amended return tracker to make sure it's being processed.
Then after you enter your Social Security number, date of birth and Zip code, you can find out just where your amended return is in the IRS system.You also might find these items of interest: