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Amending Your Personal Tax Returns

When is it necessary to amend tax returns?

If you are like most people, you find actually filing your taxes a relief. Anxiety can rear its ugly head again, however, if after filing you find you’ve made a mistake. Perhaps you discover that you’ve omitted a form or, on the other hand, that you’ve forgotten to include a sizable charitable contribution. You may be distressed to think that the IRS will think you were trying to cheat the government or that your negligence will cost you a refund. In such a situation, it’s comforting to know that you can amend your taxes.

When should you file an amended return?

According to the IRS, for math errors alone, no amended return is necessary. You can count on the government to recalculate and correct. It also isn’t necessary to amend a return if you realize that you’ve simply forgotten to attach a form. If the IRS isn’t able to process your return without a particular piece of information, it will request the needed document.  Generally speaking, if your tax return was accurate when you filed, it is probably fine as is. There are, however, reasons you may want to file an amendment even if it isn’t required, particularly since you can’t usually correct a tax return without amending it.

What is a “superseding” return?

A superseding tax return is one that is filed before the due date of the original (including extensions). As such, it takes the place of the original return, effectively “deleting” the errors as if they never happened. Nonetheless, as most of us already know all too well, the government is not always efficient. It is not unlikely that the IRS may mix up the two forms you submit, confusing which is the superseding form and which is the original. Be wary of this potential complication.

How to File an Amended Return

The IRS suggests that you do file an amended return if you’ve received revised 1099s or other forms. If you do file an amended return, it has to include information that will increase your tax liability as well as information that will give you a larger tax refund. It is important to remember that all tax returns are filed under penalty of perjury, so make sure your amended form is accurate and complete.

Amended returns are filed using Form 1040X within three years from the date you filed your original return, or within two years from the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. Amended files are only filed on paper, never electronically. Since your amended return is asking the IRS for a substantially increased refund, your return will be scrutinized especially carefully, you may want to apply some or all of your refund to next year’s taxes.

Filing taxes, whether or not you need to amend your original filing, can be complicated and time-consuming. When substantial sums of money are involved, the process can become even more daunting.  By consulting an experienced, highly competent tax attorney you ensure that your tax filing will proceed efficiently and that you will only pay the amount required by law.

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