Financial Focus: Amending Your Tax Return With Form 1040X

Financial Focus: How do I fix my taxes and get MY EXTRA TAX MONEY BACK?

By Anthony Rivieccio, MBA, PFA

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Mistakes happen. And sometimes, no matter how careful you are, those mistakes happen on a federal income tax return. You know what I’m talking about: a transposed number, a missed form, an overlooked schedule.

Those are all innocent mistakes that can affect your federal income tax liability. While it’s tempting to fret over it, there’s no need for drama. And definitely no need to call the Internal Revenue Service to talk about it. You can resolve most of those innocent mistakes with the use of a federal form 1040X form.

The form 1040X is much less complicated than the form 1040: it’s a mere two pages long. That’s because it’s not meant to be a new return, just an improved one. In other words, the IRS wants you to use the form 1040X just to correct your errors; nothing more.

The front page of the form 1040X is an abbreviated version of your form 1040. In Column A, you’ll briefly summarize the items on your tax return as originally reported. In Column B, you’ll indicate any adjustments, either up or down for your items of income, deductions, liabilities and payments. In Column C, you’ll report the correct amounts as they should have appeared on the original tax return. So clearly A +/- B should equal C. Got it? Simple, right?

On page two of the form, you can make adjustments to your personal exemptions and also explain the reason for the changes on your return. This is important, so don’t skip over this section (you’ll find it on the form at Part III). You don’t need to write a treatise about why you’re making the correction but you do need to be clear. Examples might include “received corrected form W-2″ or “mathematical error on medical expenses.” So long as you’re making a timely amendment, there’s no need to explain how you meant to include the information below but got distracted by the kids or how your dog ate your form W-2, or your Tax deductible receipts.

Attach a new or corrected return, clearly labeled “Amended” to to the back of federal form 1040X.  Read the instructions carefully, however, since the place of filing depends on the type of original return (EZs and NRs, for example, have a different address) and where you live.

If you owe additional tax as a result of the amendment, include payment with your return. If you can’t pay the entire amount, you can enter into an installment agreement.

*If you are to due a refund, you can opt to apply it to next year’s tax return or have the amount mailed to you (or deposited into your account).*

You can track the status of your amended return. You can track it online using the “Where’s My Amended Return?” tool ( available online at irs.gov or call 1-866-464-2050. You’ll need to provide your Tax ID number, your date of birth, and your ZIP code.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  1. Use the form 1040X to correct your mistakes. You want to contact the IRS before the IRS contacts you.Do not file another original tax return without the 1040X since that will just confuse the IRS and will delay processing of your return (and your refund if you’re entitled to one).
  2. File a separate form 1040X for each affected tax year.Do not use the form 1040X if you’re simply requesting a refund of penalties and interest or an addition to tax that you have already paid. Instead, use a federal form 843, Claim for Refund and Request for Abatement. Do file form 1040X within 3 years after the date you filed your original return or within 2 years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. If you filed earlier than the due date, use the due date (April 15). If you filed on extension, use the actual date of filing.Do check the instructions carefully to determine where to file your form 1040X.Do not use the 1040X to take a frivolous position for tax purposes (the after the fact “throwing spaghetti on the wall and hoping it sticks” plan). In addition to any other penalties, the law imposes a penalty of $5,000 for filing a frivolous return.Do check your math carefully and double-check that you’ve attached the corrected return. You don’t want to have to amend an amended return.Do not use form 1040X to file for an injured spouse claim. That’s a federal form 8379,Injured Spouse Allocation
  3. Be patient. A federal form 1040X usually takes an additional 8 to 12 weeks to process.

But yes Virginia, if a SECOND INCOME TAX CHECK IS COMING, (and if your corrections are proper, there is) then there is a Santa Claus. It’s Christmas in July!

Anthony Rivieccio is the founder & the CEO of The Financial Advisors Group, celebrating its 20th year as afee-only financial planning firm specializing in solving financial problems. Anthony, a recognized financial expert since 1986, has been featured by many national and local media including: Klipingers Personal Finance, The New York Post, News12 The Bronx, Bloomberg News Radio, Bronxnet, The Norwood News, The West Side Manhattan Gazette, Labor Press Magazine, Financial Planning Magazine, WINS 1010 Radio, The Bronx News and The Bronx Chronicle.

For financial assistance or a FREE 2015 Income Tax Analysis. Anthony can be reached at (347) 575 5045.

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