Error reporting your income tax information? File Form 1040X

With the country’s tax code as jumbled as a plate of spaghetti, it’s an inevitability that you will make a mistake.  Whether it’s a forgotten W-2 or the wrong number of dependents, your completed 1040 form may have something you want to fix.  You need to get the information right because incorrect financial information could trigger an audit.  Who knows, you might be owed more than you expected in refunds.  In the case of an error in your tax forms, you need to make an amendment by filing Form 1040X.

Form 1040X should be filed if you need to correct information that will alter the amount of federal income tax you owe.  Here are the situations you need to file this form:

  • You are claiming additional dependents (individuals in your household who are either under 19 years old, full-time students under age 24, or someone who is disabled) or removing dependents you previously claimed
  • You are reporting your proper filing status (single, married filing separately, married filing jointly, or widow/widower)
  • You are reporting additional income from a W-2 or 1099
  • You are claiming additional tax credits or removing them
  • You are making changes in itemized deductions or your personal exemptions

When you make a tax amendment, you need to complete both the 1040X and a new 1040 form.  You will fill out the new 1040 form with the correct information and then plug this information into page one of Form 1040X.  On the right-hand side of the first page of 1040X, there are three columns stating original amount, net change, and correct amount.  On page 2 of 1040X, there is a section titled “Explanation of changes.”  Here, you will need to explain the net change between your original 1040 and your revised 1040.  THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT SECTION OF FORM 1040X!  Explain here, in a couple of sentences, that you forgot to include a W-2 form or 1099 form, or that the number of dependents in your household was incorrectly reported.  You also need to supply a copy of all your information along with your new 1040 and 1040X forms.  Highlight the W-2 or 1099 form that changed your tax information.

If you are amending a tax form with a 1040X, you must print out all necessary documents and send them to the IRS in paper form!  Remember that you have three years to make amendments to a 1040 form in order to receive tax refunds.  (The top of this year’s 1040X has a box to check if your return is either for 2009, 2010, 2011, or 2012.)  If you are amending multiple tax returns, be sure to have all the corresponding information with the right year!  The amended tax return should be processed by the IRS in 8 to 12 weeks.  You can send it at any time within the three-year window, but it is highly recommended to send the amended return with Form 1040X during the IRS’ downtime, between June and December.  Filing a 1040X form should not trigger an audit.  Having incorrect financial information in the past three years and not reporting it would be the reason for an IRS audit, so you can’t go wrong if you amend your previous 1040 with an updated 1040X form, as long as all the updated information is now correct!

David Pilley

David Pilley

David Pilley is a May 2010 graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, with a B.A. in communication studies and a creative writing minor. He is a native of Raleigh, North Carolina.

He played clarinet for the Marching Tar Heels in 2005 and 2006. He also volunteered for STV, the student-run television station at UNC-Chapel Hill, in the spring of 2010. He shot video, wrote scripts, and acted for “Off the Cuff,” UNC’s longest running sketch comedy show. He has the rare distinction of having lived in a dorm all four years of his undergraduate college career. He was also on Franklin Street on the night of April 4, 2009. His future plans are to pursue a master’s degree in journalism and to one day work for the media as a sports journalist or broadcaster.

Being one of eight children, David realizes finance is an important topic to everyone, regardless of his/her knowledge of the subject. His interests are in personal finance, budgeting, and savings.

In his spare time, David enjoys watching sports and standup comedy, as well as doing crossword puzzles and writing in the first person. He also thoroughly enjoys trivia and, one day, hopes to participate on the game show Jeopardy!, where he will try to break Ken Jennings’ 74-game win streak.
David Pilley

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