By Neil Seidler, CPA, CMA
Question: I found some deductions that I forgot to claim on my 2018 income tax return. Can I claim them now or do I need to change the return that I filed last year?
Answer: You can’t include those deductions on your 2019 income tax return, but you can amend your 2018 return to correct the amounts claimed. Filing an amended tax return corrects information including making changes to filing status, dependents, or correcting income credits or deductions. You don’t need to file an amended return to fix math or calculation errors because the IRS will correct these for you when they process the return.
The IRS offers these tips on amending a prior year’s tax return.
- File using paper form. Use Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct errors to an original tax return the taxpayer has already filed. Taxpayers can’t file amended returns electronically. Mail the Form 1040-X to the address listed in the form’s instructions (PDF).
- Preparing Form 1040-X. Many taxpayers find the easiest way to figure the entries for Form 1040-X is to make the changes in the margin of the original tax return and then transfer the numbers to their Form 1040-X. Taxpayers should be sure to check a box at the top to show the year they are amending. Form 1040-X will be the taxpayer’s new tax return, changing the original entries to include new information. Taxpayers should explain what they are changing and why on the second page of Form 1040-X in Part III.
- Know when to amend. Taxpayers should amend a tax return to correct their filing status, the number of dependents or total income. They should also amend to claim deductions or credits not claimed or to remove deductions and credits they are not entitled to on the original return. The instructions for Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, list more reasons to amend a return.
- Know when NOT to amend. In some cases, it is not necessary to amend a tax return. Taxpayers should not worry about math errors because the IRS will make the correction. Taxpayers do not need to amend their return if they forgot to include a required form or schedule. The IRS will mail a request to the taxpayer, if needed.
- Use separate forms for each tax year. Taxpayers amending tax returns for more than one year will need a separate 1040-X for each tax year. Mail each tax year’s Form 1040-X in separate envelopes. See “Where to File” in the instructions for Form 1040-X for the correct address.
- Include other forms or schedules. If a taxpayer makes changes to any form or schedule, they should attach them to the Form 1040X when filing. Not doing so could cause a delay in processing.
- Pay additional tax. Taxpayers filing an amended return because they owe more tax should file Form 1040-X and pay the tax as soon as possible. This will limit interest and penalty charges.
- File within three-year time limit. Generally, to claim a refund, taxpayers must file a Form 1040-X within three years from the date they timely filed their original tax return or within two years from the date the person pays the tax, whichever is later. For taxpayers who filed their original return early (for example, March 1 for a calendar year return), their return is considered filed on the due date (generally April 15).
- Track your amended return. Taxpayers can track the status of an amended return three weeks after filing. Go to “https://www.irs.gov/filing/wheres-my-amended-return” or call 866-464-2050.
Get Form 1040-X on IRS.gov/forms at any time.
We welcome your questions and inquiries. If you have tax-related questions, or any other questions that we may be able to address, please email us or comment below and we’ll try to answer them in a future article. You can email me at TheRVTaxGuy@gmail.com .
The material presented here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to
provide, and should not be relied on for tax, accounting or legal advice. Readers should
consult their own tax, accounting and legal advisors to discuss their own personal
Neil Seidler, CPA, CMA, has served businesses and individuals across the USA and Canada for 35 years. As an avid RVer and recent full-timer he has a unique perspective on RV tax issues.
Read Neil’s previous posts here.