Have you ever had that sinking feeling like you messed up on something big but it’s too late now to take it back? Like that angry email you sent to your boss spelling out why you should get a raise, only to find out that he/she was about to give you one. Or that embarrassing text that you accidently sent to the wrong person that was really intended for your significant other. That feeling of dread overcomes you and you wish you could reverse the spin of the earth like Superman and make it as though your mistake never happened. Many people have hit that “send” button on their tax return program only to realize they made a big mistake. So now what? Is there anything you can do?
To Amend or Not to Amend
The short answer is yes to amend the return. It is not the end of the world and you don’t need to summon The Man of Steel to reverse the spin of the earth for you. No matter the size of the error you can get a mulligan, or a do-over. Speaking of tax errors, size does matter. Of course, if you realize you’ve made a mistake, then you could choose to file an amended return. In fact, you can do that as soon as you realize you’ve made a mistake. However, not all mistakes warrant filing an amended return. For example, if you make some simple math errors, the IRS will correct those for you and if an adjustment is necessary they will inform you of that adjustment. You might also be able to avoid an amended return if you forget to attach specific schedules or forms, because the IRS can usually process your return without them. Additionally, if they do need them they can ask for them, instead of having you file an amended return.
It’s Your choice
Another determining factor could be intent. If you filed your return with the most correct information to your knowledge at the time you filed then you likely don’t need to file an amended return. However, many mistakes cannot be corrected without filing an amended return. To be clear though, just because you’ve made and discovered a mistake you are not obligated to file an amended return. While the IRS does encourage you to file an amended return when you discover a bigger mistake, like receiving a revised 1099, there is no penalty if you choose not to.
What to Consider When You File and Amended Return
If you do choose to file an amended return there are some things you should know. First, you can only file an amended return the old fashion way: on paper. No e-filing allowed. You also have to file a Form 1040X, no matter which type of form you used previously. Also, if you are filing more than one amended return at a time, then be sure to use a separate Form 1040x for each return. Also, be aware that if your amended return results in a lot more money for you than the original did then the IRS is most likely going to take a closer look at your situation. On the other hand, if you end up owing more money than you originally paid then you will owe additional interest. Furthermore, the IRS might choose to collect penalties on the extra money owed, as well.
So, there you have it. If you mess up on your taxes, it’s not the end of the world. Yes, it could end up costing you some more money, but the fact is you don’t even have to file an amended return if you choose not to. After all, if the flub is big enough the IRS will catch it and advise you of the mistake and the consequences. If it’s just a small oversight then no one is likely to even bat an eyelash.