Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Filing an Amended Tax Return Just Got Easier. Here's Why.

By Maurie Backman – Jun 3, 2020 at 8:36AM

You’re reading a free article with opinions that may differ from The Motley Fool’s Premium Investing Services. Become a Motley Fool member today to get instant access to our top analyst recommendations, in-depth research, investing resources, and more. Learn More

The IRS may have just made a lot of tax-filers happier.

Many Americans have yet to submit their 2019 taxes, since the deadline to do so was pushed back until July 15, 2020 due to the COVID-19 crisis. But what if you already filed your 2019 tax return and realize you need to amend it?

Thankfully, there's good news in that regard, as the IRS just announced that it will soon start accepting amended 2019 tax returns electronically. Normally, amended tax returns can only be submitted on paper, so that's a welcome change that should lead to fewer errors and less work on a whole.

Man at laptop holding a pen


Why file an amended tax return?

There are several reasons why you may have to amend your tax return after submitting it. For one thing, if you get an updated W-2 or 1099 form, you'll need to amend your tax return to reflect that new information. Say your original W-2 overstates your income by $10,000. That's a huge tax liability for you, and so updating your tax return to reflect $10,000 less in income is essential. And on the flipside, you'll need to report a higher income if you initially stated a lower one due to receiving an incorrect tax form.

Furthermore, you may need to amend your tax return if you failed to report investment gains or losses, or any other income you collected during the tax year in question, such as interest from your savings account or dividend income in your brokerage account. Finally, if you failed to claim all of the tax credits and deductions you were eligible for, going back in and filing an amended tax return is the only way to lower your tax burden or potentially increase your refund amount.

What about amended tax returns from a previous year?

If you realize you need to amend a tax return that was filed prior to 2019, you may still have an opportunity to do so, as you get three years to submit an amendment. But if you're looking to update a 2017 or 2018 return, you'll still need to do so on paper. And if you owe money from one of those tax years, you'll need to prepare to pay it as quickly as possible to avoid additional interest and penalties.

To file a paper amendment, submit Form 1040-X to the IRS, and attach whatever documents relate to the changes you're making. You don't need to submit all of your old tax forms again; you just need to send in the forms that relate to the new information you're including. For example, if you're amending an old tax return because of an updated 1099 form, that 1099 is the only piece of documentation the IRS will need.

Meanwhile, you'll be able to amend your 2019 tax return electronically beginning this summer. Doing so will lower your chances of making a mistake on your amended filing, thereby eliminating one potential source of stress.

The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

Invest Smarter with The Motley Fool

Join Over 1 Million Premium Members Receiving…

  • New Stock Picks Each Month
  • Detailed Analysis of Companies
  • Model Portfolios
  • Live Streaming During Market Hours
  • And Much More
Get Started Now

Related Articles

Motley Fool Returns

Motley Fool Stock Advisor

Market-beating stocks from our award-winning analyst team.

Stock Advisor Returns
S&P 500 Returns

Calculated by average return of all stock recommendations since inception of the Stock Advisor service in February of 2002. Returns as of 09/27/2022.

Discounted offers are only available to new members. Stock Advisor list price is $199 per year.

Premium Investing Services

Invest better with The Motley Fool. Get stock recommendations, portfolio guidance, and more from The Motley Fool's premium services.