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When Not to File an Amended Return

3 min read

3 min read

Lots of people make this mistake every year. Filing an amended return when you shouldn’t can confuse the IRS and make your situation even more complicated.

Here are the most common situations when you should NOT file an amended return – and exactly what to do instead.

1. You got an IRS CP2000 notice (also called an underreporter inquiry).

If you got a notice about “underreported income” from the IRS, don’t file amended return. In fact, filing an amended return confuses the IRS. That’s because the IRS is expecting a response to the notice, rather than a new return that goes to a completely separate IRS unit. Basically, filing an amended return when you get a CP2000 notice slows down the process and creates new complications.

Learn how to respond to a CP2000 notice.

2. You got an IRS audit notice.

In this case, you need to respond to the notice with the information and documents the IRS requested. You can’t file an amended return to resolve an audit. Learn how to deal with an IRS audit.

3. You forgot to attach a copy of your W-2.

If you forgot to attach an information statement or schedule to your return, no big deal. The IRS will contact you (or your representative) if it needs the information to process your return.

4. The IRS rejected your e-filed original return.

The first thing to do is verify all items on your return (names, birthdates, Social Security Numbers) and try to e-file again. Two common reasons for e-file rejections are tax identity theft and dependent issues, like when two people claim the same dependent. Learn what to do when you could be the victim of tax identity theft, or when you may have a dependent issue on your return.

5. You made a calculation error on your return.

If your return has an arithmetic error, there’s no need to file an amended return. The IRS will usually correct it and send you a notice letting you know.

But — you or your tax professional should confirm that the IRS changes are correct.

6. The IRS prepared a return for you.

If you have back tax returns, the IRS can eventually prepare a return for you (called a substitute for return). The IRS prepares the return based on the information it has from your employer, bank, and other payers, and the substitute return won’t have any credits or deductions in your favor.

In this case, don’t file an amended return. Instead, you can file a Form 1040 to replace the substitute for return, to use a better filing status and any exemptions or credits you may be entitled to.

Learn about unfiled tax returns.

7. You want to reduce IRS penalties.

You don’t need to file an amended return just to address penalties. Instead, consider requesting first-time penalty abatement or penalty abatement due to reasonable cause.

Tips for filing an amended return

Don’t wait. The IRS will only accept an amended return within three years of the date you filed the original return or within two years of the date you paid the tax for that year, whichever is later.

You can’t e-file your amended return. You can prepare amended returns online, but you can’t electronically file them. You or your tax professional will need to mail Form 1040X to the IRS, along with corrected or omitted information statements and schedules.

Form 1040X is one of the most confusing IRS forms

Filing an amended return requires you to provide information about the original return, including any changes to the return. If you’re not sure whether your return was changed by a prior amendment or by the IRS from a notice, audit, or other adjustment, you’ll need to get your IRS records to properly complete the form.

Learn more about how to research your IRS account.

You can also get an experienced tax professional to research your IRS account for you, help you figure out whether you need to file an amended return, and prepare the return for you. Learn more about H&R Block’s Tax Audit & Notice Services. Or get help from a trusted IRS expert.

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