Amending Your Tax Return (Form 1040X)

Amended returns, at a glance:

  • The IRS accepts most amended returns (Forms 1040X).
  • IRS employees closely scrutinize all amended returns before accepting them.
  • If the IRS denies your amended return, you have the right to appeal the denial with the IRS.

You can get expert help if the IRS denies your amended return.

What you need to know about amended returns

When you need to file a correction to your tax return, it’s called an amended return. Most of the time, people end up filing amended returns because they:

  • Receive a new statement (like Form W-2, 1099, etc.) with information about money they made during the year.
  • Discover a new deduction or credit that they didn’t take.
  • Get an IRS notice indicating they may need to amend their return.

To file an amended return, Form 1040X, you need to understand what was on the original return, what the IRS changed (if anything), and the changes you need to make to correct your return.

Your amended return should include:

  • Specific changes to income, expenses, deductions, credits, and/or payments
  • Total tax
  • The refund amount on your Form 1040X
  • An explanation of why you’re amending the return

Many times, you can send in supporting documents to anticipate and answer IRS questions. Although you don’t have to, doing this can sometimes help because IRS employees manually review all amended returns before accepting them.

If you don’t have your original return or you aren’t sure whether the IRS has made any changes to your return, you can request your transcripts from the IRS to get the information.

What happens after you file the Form 1040X

The IRS accepts most amended returns. But, because you have to mail amended returns to the IRS, they take longer to process. If you’re going to receive a refund from your amended return, the refund can take up to three months to arrive. You can check the status of your amended return using an IRS tool.

Sometimes, the IRS disagrees with changes to amended returns. In this case, the IRS will usually send a denial letter or a more formal letter called a notice of claim disallowance. If that happens, you have two options to fix the issue: Appeal the IRS decision or take the case to court.

Amended return denial notices are usually vague, and it’s not always clear why the IRS denied the amended return. You or your tax professional should start by getting a complete understanding of why the IRS denied the claim. Then, you’ll be able to determine the best course to take.

Here’s how it works.

How to address a denied amended return

1. Understand and investigate why the IRS denied the amended return.

  • Many times, you’ll need to directly contact the IRS. Start with the phone number listed on your last notice. Understanding why the IRS denied the return is easier if you know “IRS speak” – that is, how the IRS explains the details of your tax account. A tax professional can help you navigate this step.
  • You may need to request your IRS transcripts to get more details. IRS transcripts don’t show all the activity on your IRS account, so you may have to ask more questions. For example, your transcript won’t tell you exactly why the IRS made changes to a filed return, or why the IRS denied your Form 1040X. But the transcript may help you piece together the details to better understand the IRS’ point of view, or identify an IRS error.
  • Interpreting transcripts can be difficult, so you may want to consult a tax expert.

2. Understand your options and take the next step.

  • If you think the IRS denial is correct, you don’t have to do anything else. But, if you disagree with the IRS, you may have several options, depending on the reason the IRS denied your amended return.
  • If the IRS rejected the amended return because of a perceived procedural error (usually with IRS letter 916C), it may be as simple as refiling the amended return, providing proof of an item on your return, or filing an additional form.
  • If it’s more complicated – such as a formal denial (usually with IRS letter 105C or 106C), you may consider appealing your case.
  • You may have other issues that you need to address. For example, if the IRS has denied your amended return because of a past audit, you may need to ask for audit reconsideration to try to reverse the audit results.
  • If you disagree with the IRS, you’ll need to start by filing a petition with the IRS Office of Appeals.
    • For amounts less than $25,000, use IRS Form 12203.
    • For higher amounts, create your own petition that includes the facts, law, argument, and your position.
  • You should file the petition within 30 days of the denial letter. But because appealing denied amended returns is more informal, the IRS often allows appeals after the 30-day deadline.

3. Follow the process to appeals (if applicable).

  • Appealing an amended return works a lot like audit appeals, where you state your facts and legal argument to support your position. The appeal will likely happen by phone and may involve more than one meeting with the appeals officer. During this process, you may need to research tax law or procedures to support your point of view about the denial, provide more information, and argue the merits of your case.
  • An IRS appeals officer will review your request and make an independent determination. The appeals officer will agree, disagree or partially agree, and will explain his or her findings to you. You can accept the decision or take the matter further to the courts.
  • If you’re appealing within the courts, consider hiring an attorney. Court procedures are much more formal than IRS appeals, and usually require the experience of an attorney.

How to get expert help

If you disagree with the IRS decision on your amended return, your H&R Block tax professional can help you investigate what to do next. Your tax pro can also communicate with the IRS for you to get the problem fixed – whether all you need to do is provide some documents, or appeal an IRS decision. 

Learn more about H&R Block’s Tax Audit & Tax Notice Services. Or make an appointment for a free consultation with a local tax professional by calling 855-536-6504 or finding a local tax pro.  

Bring these five items to your appointment

  1. A copy of any notices related to your tax situation
  2. A copy of your original tax return and amended return for the year(s) in question
  3. If you haven’t filed the amended return yet, bring all the information related to the changes needed to your original tax return.
  4. Any account transcripts you’ve requested. If you don’t have your transcripts, your tax professional can get them for you.
  5. A copy of any responses or petitions you’ve sent to the IRS

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