When You Need To (And Don’t Need To) Amend

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Let’s be honest, taxes are confusing. Even when you’re working with a professional tax company, it’s easy to make a mistake and not put down something that might help you get more money back. Or if you’re working on your own, it can be tempting just to hurry through them.

Don’t do that! The first thing to keep in mind when you’re doing taxes is to start as early as you can. Many companies will send you your W-2 right away, and if you’re not sure, you can always contact your Human Resources department. If it’s your first time filing, you may want to give yourself even more time to make sure that you understand the process. There is another bonus to filing early -- often because so many people put it off, it’s pretty easy to get an early appointment with a professional to do your taxes.

Even if you did it right -- you filed your taxes early, and with the help of a trained tax professional, maybe you forgot something. Say you worked two jobs in the past year, but only put in one W-2. In that case, you would then need to file a tax amendment to add in your record of that second job, and your tax return would almost certainly go up. See, that’s a bonus! It can seem a little embarrassing to have to file an amendment on your return, but it really isn’t. Plus, the IRS gives you a little over three years to correct it and get your money. If you send them a corrected return after those years are up, you won’t get the money you might be owed.

If you don’t file an amendment, though, it can be a little more serious than not getting your money. Based on the error made, the IRS will cite it as either a fraudulent tax return or as a case of tax evasion. Neither of those are good -- there’s no reason not to fix a simple mistake like the amount of dependents you have, for instance.

When don’t you need to file an amendment? Obviously, when you’ve done everything right!

Well, maybe you did your return yourself, but in the process of getting everything together, you did your math wrong. That’s okay. The IRS automatically checks the numbers on every return they get anyway, and if it’s wrong, you’ll be notified. They’ll automatically recalculate and adjust what you may have thought your return would be. Yes, it might be a bit embarrassing to be told you did the math wrong, but if you prepared your own taxes and that was the only mistake made: congratulations!

Overall, if you have any questions about your return -- and whether you may need to file an amendment, don’t be afraid to talk to a trained tax professional. We want you to get the most out of your return, and it’s easier than you might think to prepare an amendment.

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