Making Amends with the IRS

It's likely that more taxpayers will be amending returns this year, thanks largely to a December law that revised — or revived — some tax rules.

For example, several tax breaks that expired at the end of 2017 were brought back to life for the 2018 to 2020 tax years, such as a deduction for up to $4,000 in college tuition and fees that you paid. And Congress scrapped the way the "kiddie tax" has been calculated recently, allowing families to use an older, more favorable method retroactive to 2018 returns.

You don't have to amend a return if you made a math error or forgot to send in a form. The IRS can correct your math or will contact you by mail to let you know if it needs more information. But consider amending a return if you overlooked tax breaks that would put more money in your pocket.

In that case, here's what you need to know:

Deadline. If you're seeking a refund, you generally have up to three years from the date you filed the original return to amend it or within two years from the date you paid the tax — whichever is later.

How to file. To amend a return, you generally will fill out Form 1040X. The IRS updated its procedures recently and starting sometime this summer you will be able to electronically amend your return for 2019 only. (Returns for earlier years must still be amended on a paper form — at least for now.) You'll need to list the amounts you reported on your original return, the revision you're seeking along with an explanation and supporting documentation. You must file a separate 1040X for each tax year that you're amending.

Be patient. Amended returns will be reviewed by an IRS employee. And it can take up to 16 weeks to process your 1040X. You can check the status of it by using the IRS online tool, "Where's My Amended Return?"

If you think you may be due a refund due to tax law changes or would like help with amending a tax return, you may want to consult with your tax advisor. ICMA-RC does not offer specific tax or legal advice. It is recommended that individuals consult with their personal financial advisor prior to implementing any financial or tax strategy.

Please note: The contents of this publication provided by MissionSquare Retirement is general information regarding your retirement benefits. It is not intended to provide you with or substitute for specific legal, tax, or investment advice. You may want to consult with your legal, tax, or investment advisor to review your own personal situation. Some of the products, services, or funds detailed in this publication may not be available in your plan. This document may contain information obtained from outside sources and it may reference external websites. While we believe this information to be reliable, we cannot guarantee its complete accuracy. In addition, rules and laws can change frequently.

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