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taxes

Amending Your Income Tax Return

It’s perfectly okay to change a return to capture a tax break you missed the first time around -- and you have three years to find the error, more if you're writing off a loss.

What if you've sent in your income tax return, and you discover you made a mistake? You can make things right by filing an amended tax return. And there's no cost, unless you owe.

Here are answers to common questions about amending an income tax return.

Can I Change My Federal Income Tax Return? Once you have dropped your original income tax return in the mailbox or sent it off electronically, you can no longer change that return. (One exception: If your e-filed tax return is rejected, you can make changes before sending it again.)

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If you want to make changes after the original tax return has been filed, you must file an amended tax return using Form 1040X. You have three years to file an amendent for a tax refund or credit and seven years to amend a bad debt or loss (incurred in that tax year). You will need to explain why you need to amend your original tax return.

You don’t have to redo your entire return, either. Just show the necessary changes and adjust your tax liability accordingly.

Can I Use Tax Preparation Software to Amend My Return? Yes. TurboTax walks you through amending your federal income tax return step-by-step.

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Can I E-File a Form 1040X? No. The IRS isn't set up to accept an amended return electronically. You must print it out and send it in by mail.

How Do I Amend My State Tax Return? First fill out an amended federal income tax return, to get that corrected. Then get the right form from your state, and fill it out.

Like the IRS, your state uses a special form for an amended return. Many states also use the X suffix for the form number. For example, California uses Form 540X and Hawaii uses Form N-188X.

Don't forget to attach a copy of your amended federal return (Form 1040) to your amended state return.

ALSO SEE: Amending Your Filing Status

Return to the Tax Center

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