How to Change an Income Tax Return After Filing

Don't worry, you can fix any errors on your income tax return by filing an amendment.

Don't worry, you can fix any errors on your income tax return by filing an amendment.

Saving money throughout the year is important to most "Nesties" and preparing your own income taxes does just that — save you money. When you file your own income tax return, it's your duty to ensure that the return is complete and error-free. If you realize that you have made a mistake on your taxes, don’t panic. The Internal Revenue Service allows you to fix these errors by amending your income tax return.

Visit the IRS website at irs.gov and obtain Form 1040X and the corresponding instructions.

Complete the top portion of the form, which requests your name, Social Security number, address, filing status and calendar year that you are amending. If you are married, also enter your husband's information.

Enter the amounts listed on your original tax return in Column A. Some of the information you must provide from your original return include your adjusted gross income, exemptions, taxable income and credits.

Enter any changes to the amounts from Column A in Column B. If a row does not contain an error, enter a "0" or draw a line through the field.

Enter the correct amounts in Column C. If there is no change to a line, enter the information from Column A.

Perform the remaining calculations to determine whether you owe additional tax or will receive a refund.

Complete the "Exemptions" section if you are increasing or decreasing your exemptions. If the error does not involve exemptions, leave this section blank.

Check the box in the "Presidential Election Campaign Fund" section if you wish to change your decision to contribute to the fund.

Explain the reasons for filing the amendment in the "Explanation of Changes" section.

Attach any required documents to the back of your return, which includes any forms or schedules to support the change. If you forgot to include income, attach the W-2 received from your employer. If you are claiming a credit, complete and attach the corresponding form or schedule.

Sign and date your amended return. If you are filing a return with your spouse, he must also sign the return.

Mail your return to the IRS processing center that is relevant to your area. The IRS has several processing centers located throughout the U.S., and each center processes returns from specific states. Refer to the Form 1040X instructions to locate the processing center assigned to your state.


  • The IRS advises that it can take between eight and 12 weeks to process your amended return.
  • The IRS does not permit amended returns to be filed electronically.
  • If you are claiming an additional refund, you must wait until you receive your initial refund to file the amended return.
  • If you are amending more than one income tax return, mail each form in a separate envelope.

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About the Author

Angela M. Wheeland specializes in topics related to taxation, technology, gaming and criminal law. She has contributed to several websites and serves as the lead content editor for a construction-related website. Wheeland holds an Associate of Arts in accounting and criminal justice. She has owned and operated her own income tax-preparation business since 2006.

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