Electronically filing your tax forms is both faster and easier than submitting a paper return via mail. But up until now, one particular group of people hasn't had that option: Those who need to file amended returns.

Fortunately, that will be changing soon. The IRS has now announced that e-filing will be an option later this summer for those who need to change their tax forms after they've already been filed. That's great news for those who have an error they need to correct. 

Calculator and pen sitting on top of 1040 tax form.

Image source: Getty Images.

Why would you need to file an amended return?

According to the IRS, more than three-million amended returns, or Form 1040-Xs, are filed each year. You don't need to file one for every single error you make on your taxes, though, as the agency has indicated it discovers and corrects many routine mistakes for you. However, you do need to file an amended return if:

  • Your tax filing status was incorrect.
  • Your income is different from what you reported.
  • The deductions or credits you're eligible to claim have changed.

The IRS has a helpful online tool you can use to help you determine if you need to file an amended tax return or not based on the changes that need to be made to your submitted tax forms.

If you find you need to make an alteration to your 1040 form that results in you owing more money to the IRS, always aim to file your amended return and pay the amount due by the tax-filing deadline in order to avoid potential penalties and interest.

However, if you need to make a change that results in a refund, you have until the later of three years from the date you filed your original tax return or two years from the date when you paid the tax to get your amendment forms in and get your money back.

When will you be able to start e-filing amended returns? 

Although the IRS has made clear that they'll begin accepting electronically filed amended returns for the first time later this summer, they haven't specified an exact date yet when this technology will be up-and-running.

They have, however, indicated that the only forms you'll be able to amend electronically will be 1040 and 1040-SR forms for the 2019 tax year. You will be able to use electronic tax-filing software to submit them, as the IRS has said that allowing e-filing of these forms will complement the agency's partnership with the tax-software industry. 

If you find that you need to make a change after submitting your 1040 or 1040-SR forms, check the IRS website to see if e-filing is an option for you. But if you're running out of time to file before the tax deadline (which has been extended to July 15, 2020 for the 2019 tax year) or before your chance to claim a refund runs out, you may not want to wait until the online process goes live -- even though electronic filing is undoubtedly simpler.