Have you ever filed your own return and thought a couple weeks later, crap, I forgot to factor this document in!? Or maybe you have an accountant, but forgot to give them all your documents and again thought, crap, I forgot to factor these documents in!? Or perhaps you were looking over a copy of the return you sent off and saw you made some math errors. It could be any number of reasons, really, as to why you feel corrections need to be made. The good news is, though, that tax returns CAN be fixed for whatever reason by doing an amended return.

First things first, you have to discover that a mistake has been made. If there was a math error, don’t sweat it! Normally the IRS will make those changes for you without you have to send in an amended return. Also, don’t sweat it if you forgot to attach forms like W2s or schedules. The IRS will send you notice asking for those. How nice of them right?!

So here’s when you DO send an amended return in. If you think there’s going to be a change in your filing status, such as income, deductions, or credit, then highly consider doing an amended return. When doing so, you’ll be filling out a 1040X and it must be filed on paper. Sorry Charlie, no electronic filing for these bad boys. Keep in mind, though, that due to the good ole fashioned paper route, amended returns can take up to twelve weeks to be looked at and processed.

Speaking of time, if you are filing for an amended return, you have three years to do so from the date you filed the original return. On the other hand, you can file right on the heels of the original return. It’s recommended that you wait until the original return is processed, but you can cash your original refund while waiting for any additional refund.

Thanks to the handy dandy savvy-ness of the IRS now, you can also track the processing of your amended return if you desire to do so, even up to three years prior. There’s a tool on the IRS website called ‘Where’s My Amended Return?’ where you type in your taxpayer identification number, date of birth and zip code to keep you up to date. A word to the wise, though, give it three weeks after filing before you try to see what the IRS has done with it.

Lastly, if you’re amending more than one return, make sure you put the year of the return you’re amending at the top of the 1040X and prepare a 1040X for each year, then mail them separately to the IRS. The 1040X instructions include the proper address you’ll send the returns to.

Sometimes these things can get confusing, especially if you’re stressing over a potential mistake. Therefore, we’re always available to call if you have any questions to talk over any concerns you may have. More importantly, remember to breath and relax in the event you discover a mistake. It could turn out to be nothing and you won’t have to file an amended!