Where’s My Amended Return?

They say there are only two certainties in life; death and taxes. Many of us would agree. When it comes to the latter, filing taxes incorrectly can be problematic for the taxpayer. This happens to be another certainty. On one side of the problem, the taxpayer could miss out on money the IRS owes them. On the other, the taxpayer could raise an alarm with the IRS because they filed incorrectly, resulting in money owed. Both problems, however, can be resolved by filing an amended return.

If you landed on this article because you are looking for help with the IRS, or if you are curious about your amended tax return status, then rest easy knowing your return will be issued. Amended tax returns can take a while to process but it is the IRS’s responsibility to ensure they are.

Amended Return Status

Once you have filed your amended return, it can take up to 3 weeks before it populates in the IRS’s system. After the system recognizes the return, processing the return itself can take an additional 16 weeks. If your amended return results in money paid to you by the IRS, or money you owe personally, then either situation can induce stress. You either want to receive the difference, or rest assured knowing the IRS does not identify you as a delinquent payer.

Thankfully, the IRS has developed a tool you can use to check on your amended return status. These processes, unfortunately, do take time.

How to File an Amended Tax Return

Filing an amended tax return is a straightforward process. The IRS recognizes that mistakes happen, providing an easy way to manage an inaccurate tax return; Form 1040x. A taxpayer uses Form 1040X to amend a tax return, and it is broken into three sections.

Column A

In column A you must input the amounts you filed on the incorrect (original) tax return.

Column B

Column B is going to be the total change, or difference, that occurs between the inaccurate tax return and the amended one. It is the value change between column A and column C.

Column C

Column C, as you can deduce, is the corrected return, up-to-date with the accurate figures that need to be reflected.

Outside of the Three Columns

Additionally, you will need to indicate the tax year you are amending and, if there happen to be multiple, separate each into their own envelope. We encourage you to send the forms via certified mail.

If you owe the IRS money, then you must include a check or money order with your amended return. Note: do not attach it specifically to Form 1040X, simply place it within the appropriate envelope. If you wish to pay online, the ‘payment options’ section of the IRS’s website can assist you.

Lastly, with each separate amended tax return, you must include a copy of the tax return in question. This may also require you to provide evidence for the changes you are making, such as including a W-2 or 1099 that are responsible. These copies must be listed in the order of the ‘attachment sequence no.’ which is found on the backside of Form 1040X.

When to File?

Never file an amended tax return if you have not yet filed your original. Of course, this is counterintuitive, but it does happen. If you owe money to the IRS, it is paramount that you file immediately after the inaccuracies are identified. The money owed can, if it has not already, accrue interest and penalties.

If you filed a tax return, or even a tax extension, then you have three years from the latest date-of-file to obtain your refund or credit. If you paid the tax, then that window becomes two years. If you need to file an amended tax return, then we encourage that you either file or seek help with taxes immediately.

I Have Not Received My Amended Tax Refund

Again, please allow 16 weeks to pass before worrying about your tax refund. The IRS states specifically that a refund can take this amount of time to process. With that being said, if you have not received your tax refund or credit within that timeframe and you have utilized their ‘where’s my amended return’ tool to check on your amended return status, then call the IRS at 1-866-464-2050 to inquire about your case.

Amended Tax Return Timeline

Once filed, the amended tax return timeline goes as follows:

  • Up to 3 weeks for the amended return to populate in the IRS’s system
  • Up to 16 weeks for the return to be issued or the payment processed

If your case exceeds this timeline, then see the above section. The IRS will help you rectify the situation. Additionally, we encourage you to find a good tax preparer to either service your current situation or mitigate any problems from arising in the future.

Amended Tax Return Tips & Facts

As with any tax filing, there is going to be the right way to do it, the wrong way to do it, and the information that differentiates the two.

You Don’t Always Have to File

Some tax return mistakes do not need to be amended. A common one is a math mistake, especially if it is minor, as the IRS will correct it on their end and notify you if a correction was made.

Don’t Forget to Explain

Part III of Form 1040X requires you to explain, with your own words, what went wrong in your original tax return. Exercising is brevity is recommended but withholding information is not. Be concise and honest. They want to understand why this amendment is occurring.

State Tax Form, Also A Problem?

After you have sent in Form 1040X, ensure that your state taxes do not also need to be amended. Sometimes, the root of the problem affects both tax filings.


While conclusive evidence that amended tax forms trigger audits does not exist, tax professionals tend to recognize a relationship between the two. Be aware that, especially if you are asking for a large return, the IRS may investigate your case.


Do not wait before filing an amended tax return—particularly if you are positive the original is inaccurate. Follow the process with meticulousness and allow 16 weeks after your submission to pass. If by then your amended tax returns have not been processed, reach out to the IRS, or seek the help of a tax professional.