Many people relish in the thought that their tax forms have been completed and submitted to the Internal Revenue Service, and their filing responsibilities are finished until the next tax season begins. However, it's not uncommon for some to realize after the fact that they forgot to take a deduction for which they are eligible, made a mistake in their calculations or used the incorrect filing status. Because the federal tax agency understands that these gaffes are common, and in many cases harmless, individuals are permitted to amend their returns within a certain period of time.

The first step to take is to determine whether an amended return even needs to be filed. Fox Business notes that in cases of small mathematical errors or forgetting to include transactions that would not result in additional tax liability, there may not be a need to file an amended return. In addition, taxpayers may also not need to amend their returns if they forgot to attach certain documents, such as W-2s, as employers must send duplicate copies to the IRS to have on file. Therefore, the agency will simply match up the information on the return with the form sent in by employers. In other instances, however, when filing a deduction for which an individual is eligible will yield a tax refund, it may be worth it to go through the process of completing this process. A tax preparer may be able to guide taxpayers on whether certain allowances would generate a larger refund.

Amending a return
If consumers determine that altering the information they submitted is the best course of action, they must use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to file an amended income tax return. They can use this Form to amend Forms 1040, 1040A or 1040EZ, although they cannot amend their returns electronically and must submit a paper return. 

It's also important to remember that all items must be corrected when people choose to amend returns. They cannot only opt to change those details that earn them a bigger refund, while disregarding other details that may increase their tax liability. Lastly, there are time limits that apply to these alterations. Taxpayers must amend returns within three years from the date they filed the original return or within two years from the date they paid their tax liability, whichever is later.

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