While you can file your tax return and forget about it in most cases, sometimes there may be incomplete information or errors on your return, in which case you can make corrections and file your federal return again.

You may get a refund once you file the corrected version of your return after it’s reviewed by the IRS. Read on to learn more about when you should file an amended return and how to file and track the status of one.

What Is an Amended Refund?

An amended refund is the additional refund amount the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) may issue if your amended return increases your refund amount. In some cases, an amended return can also increase your tax liability, and you may have to make a tax payment to the IRS.

For example, if your original tax refund was $2,000, but the amended return increased your refund amount to $3,000, you’ll receive an additional $1,000 refund.

Your amended federal income tax return will include the original information from your first tax return, along with anything you need to change. You’ll use Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to do so.

Reasons for Filing an Amended Tax Return

There are a few instances when you’re required to file an amended tax return:

  • You didn’t claim a dependent.
  • You claimed a dependent improperly.
  • You make a mistake on your tax return, such as not including a certain income, wrong filing status, or incorrect deduction.
  • You used standard deductions instead of itemized deductions.
  • You didn’t claim deductions or tax credits, such as the child tax credit, for which you qualify.
  • You claimed a credit, deduction, or expense you weren’t eligible for.

Keep in mind that you don’t need to file an amended return for simple math errors. The IRS will automatically fix small errors when processing your original tax return. 

How To File for an Amended Refund

Filing for an amended refund is a straightforward process. However, you may want to hire a tax professional to avoid any errors in the completion and filing of your amended return.

Gather Necessary Documents and Information

Before you file your amended return, make sure you have your original tax return and relevant documents on hand.

For example, if you didn’t claim a tax credit or deduction, you’ll need to provide documents that support the deduction you’re claiming, such as a donation receipt. If you want to correct your reported income, you may need a new or amended 1099 or W-2 form.

Complete Form 1040-X

Once you have your documents ready, download Form 1040-X from the IRS website. Fill out the form with your personal information, details of your changes, and an explanation for them.

The form has three columns for details of your changes:

  • Column A: Information on your original return
  • Column B: Difference in the amounts between the original and amended return
  • Column C: The corrected amounts

Submit the Amended Return

Beginning with the 2019 tax year, you can e-file your amended return if you have filed the original return electronically and if your tax software (Turbotax, H&R Block Tax Cut, etc.) allows you to submit it electronically.  You can also print and submit it by mail.

For the 2018 tax year or earlier, you’ll have to print and complete Form 1040-X and other relevant tax forms, attach your supporting documents, and mail them.

Tracking the Status of an Amended Refund

There are two main ways to check the status of an amended refund once you’ve submitted your amended federal tax return.

Use the IRS "Where's My Amended Refund" Tool

It may take up to 20 weeks for the IRS to process your return once you submit it. However, you can use the “Where’s My Amended Refund” tool to check the status. It may take up to three weeks after you submit your return for the tool to show the status of your particular amended return.

The “Where’s My Amended Return” tool can show you the status of your amended return for this and the three prior years’ amended returns if you’ve submitted any during that time. You’ll need to provide your date of birth, zip code, and Social Security number to check the status.

It’s important to note you cannot use this tool to track the status of:

  • Business returns
  • Injured spouse claims
  • Carryback applications or claims
  • Returns with a foreign address
  • Returns processed by Examination, Bankruptcy, or other special units
  • Any submitted Form 1040 hand-marked or stamped as a corrected or amended return instead of 1040-X

Contact the IRS for Status Updates

You can also call the IRS’ amended return helpline toll-free at 1-866-464-2050 to find the status of your return. The IRS helpline offers information in English and Spanish. You’ll need to provide the same information as we’ve listed above when you call the toll-free number and may need to provide additional information if/when needed.

A Tax Professional Can Help With an Amended Refund

Filing an amended return is important, especially when it increases your refund amount. You can choose to submit the return yourself or get help from an experienced tax professional to get the maximum refund.

The IRS usually accepts most amended returns. However, in some tax situations, the IRS may not agree with the information you’ve submitted. You’ll receive a notice of claim disallowance or a denial letter in this case. If you receive either of these notices, we recommend speaking to a tax preparation expert to explore your options.