How to Amend Federal Income Taxes for Previous Years

by Ashley Mott

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) provides taxpayers with the ability to edit an income tax return for prior years through the publication of an amended tax form. For the individual income tax filer, Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, allows for the correction of any inaccurate information reported on a filed tax return. Any additional schedules filed with the original return that require correction must be filled out in addition to the 1040X.

1. Visit the IRS website or call the IRS at 1-800-829-1040 to obtain a copy of Form 1040-X and its corresponding instruction booklet. The form is used to amend tax forms 1040, 1040A, 1040EZ, 1040NR and 1040NR-EZ for any prior tax year.

2. Indicate the calendar year for the income tax return the form will amend. To amend your tax returns for multiple years, fill out a separate form for each year.

3. Correct any schedules, such as Schedule A, Itemized Deductions or Schedule C, Profit or Loss from Business, that require changes based on new information.

4. Amend the information on your previous Form 1040 with Form 1040X. You will typically not need to complete the entire form if only certain information needs to be corrected. The IRS publication Instructions for Form 1040X contains a table explaining which lines you must complete to change details such as filing status, exemptions or income.

5. Sign and date the amended return.

6. Mail the return to the IRS. If the IRS sent you a notice that required the filing of Form 1040X, the correspondence contained an address for form submission. Otherwise the publication Instructions for Form 1040X contain different IRS mailing addresses based on your state of residence.


  • If you use tax preparation software to amend a prior year's income tax return, the completed return must still be mailed to the IRS. The IRS does not accept amended returns electronically.
  • A change on the federal income tax return usually requires similar changes on state income tax returns because state taxes rely on information reported to the IRS on Form 1040. Each state publishes specific forms to amend tax returns and provides the forms upon request.


  • While you are always responsible for any income tax filing errors that result in more tax owed, the IRS only allows three years from the original tax return due date for taxpayers to claim a refund on a prior year's income tax return. If correcting the mistake on your old return will result in a refund for you, amend your tax return as soon as possible.

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