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When is Filing an Amended Tax Return Necessary in the U.S.

July 25, 2017

Taxpayers will occasionally need to file an amended tax return to rectify any errors made in the original tax submission. However, taxpayers should be aware that not every error requires an amended return and that certain points should be kept in mind when filing an amended tax return.

The following is an overview of situations when you need to file an amended return and how it should be filed.


Situations Requiring an Amended Tax Return


Desire to Change Tax Filing Status

The IRS allows a taxpayer to change their filing status after a return was filed., however, although a taxpayer may change from married filling separate to married filing joint but not from married filing joint to married filing separate.  For example, if a taxpayer filed as ‘single’ but finds out that  filing as ‘Head of Household’, for which he qualifies, would have resulted in lower taxes and maybe a refund, he/she can file an amended tax return to update their tax filing status.

To make this change the amended return must be filed within three years of filing the original tax return.


Correct the Income Reported

Should  you need to make a correction to your income, for example, you forgot to report your tip income, income from an investment, or any other income, you may file an amended tax return  to include the additional income. This would result in additional taxes, which should be paid at the earliest to avoid any penalties and interest.


Claim Additional Tax Deductions & Tax Credits

If you failed to claim a tax deduction or tax credit that you qualify for, such as a capital loss from prior tax years, a tax credit, unused tax deductions, you may file an amended tax return to rectify this error. The IRS will not automatically prepare an adjusted tax return to include every tax credit and/or deduction that you qualify for, therefore, consulting a tax professional proves to be useful when it comes to knowing about the tax credits and deductions that one qualifies for in order to reduce the tax burden.


Exclude Claimed Tax Deductions & Tax Credits

Likewise, if you claimed a tax deduction or tax credit that you have been claiming for years but now do not qualify for, you may file an amended tax return excluding that particular tax deduction or tax credit. Pay any additional taxes at your earliest to avoid any interest applicable after tax deadline.


Form 1095-A

Employers are required to issue their employees Form 1095-A. Since there has been changes to the healthcare forms deadline from year 2017 onward, it is likely that the original form 1095-A – Health Insurance Marketplace Statement may be updated with a correct second form. In this case, you should compare your original Form 1095-A with the second form, and if there are any changes that impact your taxes, consider filing an amended tax return.


When You Are NOT Required To File an Amended Tax Return


Mathematical Errors

If you made mathematical errors you are not required to file an amended tax return. The IRS will automatically correct the math error and send a letter notifying of the error and correction made. Additionally if the error results in additional taxes, a request for payment of taxes, interest and penalties may be made. If you agree with the corrections made and the updated tax figures, you will simply need to make the additional tax payment to the IRS.

If you discover the mathematical error before the IRS, and figure out the additional taxes you will owe, you can immediately file the amended tax return and pay the extra amount to avoid any interest charges on the underpayment. Interest is chargeable when tax payments are made after the usual tax deadline of April 15.


Missing Documents

 If you missed attaching supporting documents, an amended return is not required.  The IRS will send a request asking for missing information. Learn more about Tax Recordkeeping


Key Points To Know When Filing An Amended Tax Return

  • Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file an amended income tax return.
  • The amended U.S. return cannot be filed electronically, and must be sent by mail.
  • The amended tax return can be used to correct previously filed Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ.
  • The amended return, Form 1040X must be filed within 3 years of the original filing date or within 2 years of paying the taxes, whichever is later.
  • This three-year period begins on the tax filing deadline of April 15 even if the taxpayer filed early. Likewise, even if the tax return was filed after the deadline, the 3-year period still begins from the 15th of April.
  • Do not forget to enter the year of the tax return for which you are filing the amended return at the top of the filed Form 1040X.
  • If amended returns are being filed for multiple years, a separate 1040X should be filed for each year, and each of them should be mailed separately in different envelopes.
  • If the amended return is being filed due to changes on a schedule or IRS form, do not forget to include a copy of the amended form.
  • Any IRS forms or schedules such as W-2 form that has been used to make changes to the original return, should be attached to the amended tax return.
  • If additional taxes are owed, submit the Form 1040X and pay the additional tax as soon as possible to avoid penalties and interest. The fastest way is by using IRS’s ‘Direct Pay’ option.
  • If an additional refund is due, wait until the expected refund is processed and received by you before filing the amended tax return. If you file the amended return while the initial refund is being processed, it may lead to the refund being put on hold until the IRS completes the assessment.
  • As you file an amended federal tax return, do not forget to review your state tax return as well since your state tax liability may be affected by a change made on the federal return. Reach out to your state tax authority in case of any changes.
  • It generally takes up to 16 weeks to process an amended return. After you file your amended return, keep track of its status from the third week onward. This can be done through the “Where’s My Amended Return?” on the IRS website.

Anyone can make a mistake on their tax return, but it is advisable that the sooner you rectify the error by filing an amended tax return, the lesser the interest and penalties, that could possibly apply if the taxpayer owes additional taxes.



If you have any tax-related queries or need assistance with tax planning or filing please contact AG Tax. Our tax professionals are highly-experienced with U.S. and Canadian tax laws and can provide you the right guidance to handle your tax situation.

Aylett Grant Tax LLP is a full service accounting firm with a dedicated team of experts, who are highly-qualified and experienced in handling situations related to U.S., Canada and other international tax laws.

We can assist with:

  • Canadian Personal and corporate tax returns
  • Cross Border Taxation and Business Planning
  • S. Personal and Corporate Taxation
  • Disclosure of Foreign Assets and other information filings
  • Retirement planning
  • Estate Planning, Inheritance tax advice


Please contact either of our offices in Canada at 604-538-8735 (Greater Vancouver), or 780-702-2732 (Edmonton and Alberta) to arrange for an appointment to discuss your tax related queries.


Disclaimer: The information in this publication is accurate as of the time of its publication. AG Tax assumes no responsibility for changes to tax legislation subsequent to the publication of this document. The information provided is for general information purposes only and should not be acted upon without seeking professional advice. If you would like to engage our services, please contact our staff and obtain authorization to send our firm confidential information. A client relationship is not created by the transmission of information. A client relationship is only formed with our firm when a scope and engagement letter signed by the firm and the potential client detailing the terms of engagement is present.


ABOUTAylett Grant Tax, LLP
With offices across Canada, we are positioned to manage and process the full scope of your Canadian, US and US Canada cross-border tax filing needs.
12752 28th Ave, Surrey, BC, V4A 2P4
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With offices across Canada, we are positioned to manage and process the full scope of your Canadian, US and US Canada cross-border tax filing needs.
12752 28th Ave, Surrey, BC, V4A 2P4
104–4220 98 St NW Edmonton AB, T6E 6A1

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