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Filing A 1040X Is Not Scary

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This past year I had to file a 1040X for the first time in my young tax filing career because I put in a placeholder for my blog earnings that was erroneous. What I did was I entered in what I thought was a reasonable number into TurboTax for informational purposes (just to see what my return or tax due would be) even though I hadn’t received all my 1099s. Since I had entered in a value, TurboTax never pinged me again for the number and I filed my taxes with this estimate. Anyway, no big deal right? People make mistakes all the time, so off I went to fill out a 1040X Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

Did I Have To File a 1040X?

First things first, did I have to? Yes because my income changed, which is a substantial change. If I had done it by hand and made a simple math error, then the IRS will correct that for me and make any adjustments it needs to. If you make a substantial change to something like your dependents, tax credits or income deductions you forgot, or anything like that then you’ll need a 1040X.

Paying Penalties and Interest

If the IRS thinks you were trying to cheat them, then they’ll levy penalties. If you made a simple error, then they’ll just charge you some interest. In my case, I filed my amended return and sent in the check before the April 15th deadline. They only processed it a month ago and thus charged me interest on the missing amount for the months it spent in limbo. The interest was only a few dollars so I’m not going to waste time arguing but be prepared to pay that difference when it comes.

Actually Filling Out the 1040X

What you will actually do is fill out a new 1040 and a 1040X whenever you need to amend your return. If you initially filled out a 1040EZ or some other 1040 version, you’ll need to fill out a regular 1040 form this time around. One thing to keep in mind, now that you’re amending your return, it will come under greater scrutiny… so be sure to get everything as complete and accurate this second time around. Remember to fill out all the necessary schedules, forms, and attach any additional documentation you need.

Now, onto the 1040X itself, you’ll first need to get your original 1040 and your new 1040. On the 1040, you’ll need to list both values and the differences, for practically every single line item on the 1040. Having both handy will make this process go a lot easier. After you fill that all out, you need to fill out the section that explains what you did wrong and why. Make this brief but detailed enough to explain all the changes. If you owe taxes, be sure to mail the check (to the same place as your original return), made out to the United States Treasury, along with your amended return.

There you go! Easy as pie. :)

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8 Responses to “Filing A 1040X Is Not Scary”

  1. Chris says:

    I had to file a 1040X a couple of years ago because of an error on my return. I owed about $500 extra, and the interest for almost an entire year (the time it took them to notice the mistake and mail me about it) was only a few dollars. It was pretty easy, though.

  2. rstlne says:

    I filed a 1040X earlier this year because I had gotten phased out of my Roth IRA and thus had an excess contribution and taxable income on that excess contribution. It’s not hard to do with tax software. Also, the local IRS office forgave the $2 in interest incurrred.

  3. Bob Meighan says:

    Jim… While filing an amended return may not be scary, it’s a hassle. To help you avoid making the same mistake in TurboTax, I suggest that if you enter estimated amounts, that you also mark the amount as ESTIMATED. Do this by selecting Edit/Mark as Estimate or simply press F8 in the numeric field. That way when you run Final Review, TurboTax will flag the amount as an estimated amount. You’ll then need to address it before you file.

    I hope this information helps.
    Bob Meighan
    VP, TurboTax

  4. jim says:

    Thanks for the tip Bob, I was using the online version, was the check box there last year? I must have missed it or something, thanks!

  5. RockRyno says:

    Wow, Jim: you typed the estimate in and never went back to update the actual? That’s just reckless taxing ;-) , man! Especially with online business which, I’m sure can fluctuate quite a bit.

    I was going back and forth (PC version) at least a half a dozen time to check if everything is typed in correctly and not missed (especially deductions ;-) ) and still wasn’t sure until the very end. Well, in my case I was pondering on my return for quite awhile waiting for the form to claim hybrid vehicle deduction that has not become available until very late in the tax season.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Jim… Ahh. The ability to mark amounts as Estimated is not in the Online version. So, you did not miss some undocumented feature.

    Bob Meighan
    VP, TurboTax

  7. Jesse24722 says:

    Okay I need to file a 1040X because I got a W2 late. Where online do I go to do that and how? I would really appreciate any help I could get!! Thanks..
    -Jesse


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