Errors may delay your refund or result in notices being sent to you. If you discover an error, you can file an amended return or claim for refund.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170688
You should correct your return if, after you have filed it, you find that:
- You did not report some income,
- You claimed deductions or credits you should not have claimed,
- You did not claim deductions or credits you could have claimed, or
- You should have claimed a different filing status. (Once you file a joint return, you cannot choose to file separate returns for that year after the due date of the return. However, an executor may be able to make this change for a deceased spouse.)
If you need a copy of your return, see Copies of returns
under What Records Should I Keep
, earlier in this chapter.
Use Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to correct a return you have already filed. An amended tax return cannot be filed electronically under the e-file system.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170691
On Form 1040X, enter your income, deductions, and credits as you originally reported them on your return, the changes you are making, and the corrected amounts. Then figure the tax on the corrected amount of taxable income and the amount you owe or your refund.
If you owe tax, pay the full amount with Form 1040X. The tax owed will not be subtracted from any amount you had credited to your estimated tax.
If you cannot pay the full amount due with your return, you can ask to make monthly installment payments. See Installment Agreement
If you overpaid tax, you can have all or part of the overpayment refunded to you, or you can apply all or part of it to your estimated tax. If you choose to get a refund, it will be sent separately from any refund shown on your original return.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170693
After you finish your Form 1040X, check it to be sure that it is complete. Do not forget to show the year of your original return and explain all changes you made. Be sure to attach any forms or schedules needed to explain your changes. Mail your Form 1040X to the Internal Revenue Service Center serving the area where you now live (as shown in the instructions to the form). However, if you are filing Form 1040X in response to a notice you received from the IRS, mail it to the address shown on the notice. Do not use the addresses listed at the end of this publication.
File a separate form for each tax year involved. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170694
Generally, you must file your claim for a credit or refund within 3 years after the date you filed your original return or within 2 years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later. Returns filed before the due date (without regard to extensions) are considered filed on the due date (even if the due date was a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday). These time periods are suspended while you are financially disabled, discussed later.
If the last day for claiming a credit or refund is a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, you can file the claim on the next business day.
If you do not file a claim within this period, you may not be entitled to a credit or a refund. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170695
Generally, a protective claim is a formal claim or amended return for credit or refund normally based on current litigation or expected changes in tax law or other legislation. You file a protective claim when your right to a refund is contingent on future events and may not be determinable until after the statute of limitations expires. A valid protective claim does not have to list a particular dollar amount or demand an immediate refund. However, a valid protective claim must:
- Be in writing and signed,
- Include your name, address, SSN or ITIN, and other contact information,
- Identify and describe the contingencies affecting the claim,
- Clearly alert the IRS to the essential nature of the claim, and
- Identify the specific year(s) for which a refund is sought.
Mail your protective claim for refund to the address listed in the instructions for Form 1040X, under Where To File
Generally, the IRS will delay action on the protective claim until the contingency is resolved.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170696
If you file your claim within 3 years after the date you filed your return, the credit or refund cannot be more than the part of the tax paid within the 3-year period (plus any extension of time for filing your return) immediately before you filed the claim. This time period is suspended while you are financially disabled, discussed later. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170697
Payments, including estimated tax payments, made before the due date (without regard to extensions) of the original return are considered paid on the due date. For example, income tax withheld during the year is considered paid on the due date of the return, April 15 for most taxpayers.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170698
You made estimated tax payments of $500 and got an automatic extension of time to October 15, 2007, to file your 2006 income tax return. When you filed your return on that date, you paid an additional $200 tax. On October 15, 2010, you filed an amended return and claimed a refund of $700. Because you filed your claim within 3 years after you filed your original return, you can get a refund of up to $700, the tax paid within the 3 years plus the 6-month extension period immediately before you filed the claim. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170699
The situation is the same as in Example 1, except you filed your return on October 30, 2007, 2 weeks after the extension period ended. You paid an additional $200 on that date. On October 29, 2010, you filed an amended return and claimed a refund of $700. Although you filed your claim within 3 years from the date you filed your original return, the refund was limited to $200, the tax paid within the 3 years plus the 6-month extension period immediately before you filed the claim. The estimated tax of $500 paid before that period cannot be refunded or credited.
If you file a claim more than 3 years after you file your return, the credit or refund cannot be more than the tax you paid within the 2 years immediately before you file the claim. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170700
You filed your 2006 tax return on April 17, 2007. You paid taxes of $500. On November 5, 2008, after an examination of your 2006 return, you had to pay an additional tax of $200. On May 12, 2010, you file a claim for a refund of $300. However, because you filed your claim more than 3 years after you filed your return, your refund will be limited to the $200 you paid during the 2 years immediately before you filed your claim.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170701
The time periods for claiming a refund are suspended for the period in which you are financially disabled. For a joint income tax return, only one spouse has to be financially disabled for the time period to be suspended. You are financially disabled if you are unable to manage your financial affairs because of a medically determinable physical or mental impairment which can be expected to result in death or which has lasted or can be expected to last for a continuous period of not less than 12 months. However, you are not treated as financially disabled during any period your spouse or any other person is authorized to act on your behalf in financial matters.
To claim that you are financially disabled, you must send in the following written statements with your claim for refund.
- A statement from your qualified physician that includes:
- The name and a description of your physical or mental impairment,
- The physician's medical opinion that the impairment prevented you from managing your financial affairs,
- The physician's medical opinion that the impairment was or can be expected to result in death, or that its duration has lasted, or can be expected to last, at least 12 months,
- The specific time period (to the best of the physician's knowledge), and
- The following certification signed by the physician: "I hereby certify that, to the best of my knowledge and belief, the above representations are true, correct, and complete."
- A statement made by the person signing the claim for credit or refund that no person, including your spouse, was authorized to act on your behalf in financial matters during the period of disability (or the exact dates that a person was authorized to act for you).
If you file a claim for one of the items listed below, the dates and limits discussed earlier may not apply. These items, and where to get more information, are as follows.
- Bad debt. (See Nonbusiness Bad Debts in chapter 14.)
- Worthless security. (See Worthless securities in chapter 14.)
- Foreign tax paid or accrued. (See Publication 514, Foreign Tax Credit for Individuals.)
- Net operating loss carryback. (See Publication 536, Net Operating Losses (NOLs) for Individuals, Estates, and Trusts.)
- Carryback of certain business tax credits. (See Form 3800, General Business Credit.)
- Claim based on an agreement with the IRS extending the period for assessment of tax.
Claims are usually processed 8-12 weeks after they are filed. Your claim may be accepted as filed, disallowed, or subject to examination. If a claim is examined, the procedures are the same as in the examination of a tax return.
If your claim is disallowed, you will receive an explanation of why it was disallowed. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170706
You can sue for a refund in court, but you must first file a timely claim with the IRS. If the IRS disallows your claim or does not act on your claim within 6 months after you file it, you can then take your claim to court. For information on the burden of proof in a court proceeding, see Publication 556.
The IRS provides a direct method to move your claim to court if:
- You are filing a claim for a credit or refund based solely on contested income tax or on estate tax or gift tax issues considered in your previously examined returns, and
- You want to take your case to court instead of appealing it within the IRS.
When you file your claim with the IRS, you get the direct method by requesting in writing that your claim be immediately rejected. A notice of claim disallowance will be sent to you.
You have 2 years from the date of mailing of the notice of claim disallowance to file a refund suit in the United States District Court having jurisdiction or in the United States Court of Federal Claims. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170707
If you receive a refund because of your amended return, interest will be paid on it from the due date of your original return or the date you filed your original return, whichever is later, to the date you filed the amended return. However, if the refund is not made within 45 days after you file the amended return, interest will be paid up to the date the refund is paid. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170708
Your refund may be reduced by an additional tax liability that has been assessed against you.
Also, your refund may be reduced by amounts you owe for past-due child support, debts to another federal agency, or for state income tax. If your spouse owes these debts, see Offset against debts
, under Refunds
, earlier, for the correct refund procedures to follow.
If your return is changed for any reason, it may affect your state income tax liability. This includes changes made as a result of an examination of your return by the IRS. Contact your state tax agency for more information.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170711
The law provides penalties for failure to file returns or pay taxes as required.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170712
If you do not file your return and pay your tax by the due date, you may have to pay a penalty. You may also have to pay a penalty if you substantially understate your tax, understate a reportable transaction, file an erroneous claim for refund or credit, file a frivolous tax submission, or fail to supply your SSN or individual taxpayer identification number. If you provide fraudulent information on your return, you may have to pay a civil fraud penalty. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170713
If you do not file your return by the due date (including extensions), you may have to pay a failure-to-file penalty. The penalty is usually 5% for each month or part of a month that a return is late, but not more than 25%. The penalty is based on the tax not paid by the due date (without regard to extensions). taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170714
If your failure to file is due to fraud, the penalty is 15% for each month or part of a month that your return is late, up to a maximum of 75%. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170715
If you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100% of the unpaid tax. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170716
You will not have to pay the penalty if you show that you failed to file on time because of reasonable cause and not because of willful neglect.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170717
You will have to pay a failure-to-pay penalty of 1/2 of 1% (.50%) of your unpaid taxes for each month, or part of a month, after the due date that the tax is not paid. This penalty does not apply during the automatic 6-month extension of time to file period if you paid at least 90% of your actual tax liability on or before the due date of your return and pay the balance when you file the return.
The monthly rate of the failure-to-pay penalty is half the usual rate (.25% instead of .50%) if an installment agreement is in effect for that month. You must have filed your return by the due date (including extensions) to qualify for this reduced penalty.
If a notice of intent to levy is issued, the rate will increase to 1% at the start of the first month beginning at least 10 days after the day that the notice is issued. If a notice and demand for immediate payment is issued, the rate will increase to 1% at the start of the first month beginning after the day that the notice and demand is issued.
This penalty cannot be more than 25% of your unpaid tax. You will not have to pay the penalty if you can show that you had a good reason for not paying your tax on time.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170718
If both the failure-to-file penalty and the failure-to-pay penalty (discussed earlier) apply in any month, the 5% (or 15%) failure-to-file penalty is reduced by the failure-to-pay penalty. However, if you file your return more than 60 days after the due date or extended due date, the minimum penalty is the smaller of $135 or 100% of the unpaid tax. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170719
You may have to pay an accuracy-related penalty if you underpay your tax because:
- You show negligence or disregard of the rules or regulations, or
- You substantially understate your income tax.
The penalty is equal to 20% of the underpayment. The penalty will not be figured on any part of an underpayment on which the fraud penalty (discussed later) is charged.
The term "negligence" includes a failure to make a reasonable attempt to comply with the tax law or to exercise ordinary and reasonable care in preparing a return. Negligence also includes failure to keep adequate books and records. You will not have to pay a negligence penalty if you have a reasonable basis for a position you took.
The term "disregard" includes any careless, reckless, or intentional disregard. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170721
You can avoid the penalty for disregard of rules or regulations if you adequately disclose on your return a position that has at least a reasonable basis. See Disclosure statement
This exception will not apply to an item that is attributable to a tax shelter. In addition, it will not apply if you fail to keep adequate books and records, or substantiate items properly. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170723
You understate your tax if the tax shown on your return is less than the correct tax. The understatement is substantial if it is more than the larger of 10% of the correct tax or $5,000. However, the amount of the understatement may be reduced to the extent the understatement is due to:
- Substantial authority, or
- Adequate disclosure and a reasonable basis.
If an item on your return is attributable to a tax shelter, there is no reduction for an adequate disclosure. However, there is a reduction for a position with substantial authority, but only if you reasonably believed that your tax treatment was more likely than not the proper treatment.
Whether there is or was substantial authority for the tax treatment of an item depends on the facts and circumstances. Some of the items that may be considered are court opinions, Treasury regulations, revenue rulings, revenue procedures, and notices and announcements issued by the IRS and published in the Internal Revenue Bulletin that involve the same or similar circumstances as yours. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170725
To adequately disclose the relevant facts about your tax treatment of an item, use Form 8275, Disclosure Statement. You must also have a reasonable basis for treating the item the way you did.
In cases of substantial understatement only, items that meet the requirements of Revenue Procedure 2008-14 (or later update) are considered adequately disclosed on your return without filing Form 8275.
Use Form 8275-R, Regulation Disclosure Statement, to disclose items or positions contrary to regulations. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170726
You will not have to pay a penalty if you show a good reason (reasonable cause) for the way you treated an item. You must also show that you acted in good faith. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170727
You may have to pay a penalty if you file an erroneous claim for refund or credit. The penalty is equal to 20% of the disallowed amount of the claim, unless you can show a reasonable basis for the way you treated an item. The penalty will not be figured on any part of the disallowed amount of the claim that relates to the earned income credit or on which the accuracy-related or fraud penalties are charged.taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170728
You may have to pay a penalty of $5,000 if you file a frivolous tax return or other frivolous submissions. A frivolous tax return is one that does not include enough information to figure the correct tax or that contains information clearly showing that the tax you reported is substantially incorrect. For more information on frivolous returns, frivolous submissions, and a list of positions that are identified as frivolous, see Notice 2008-14, 2008-4 I.R.B. 310, available at www.irs.gov/irb/2008-04_IRB/ar01.html
You will have to pay the penalty if you filed this kind of return or submission based on a frivolous position or a desire to delay or interfere with the administration of federal tax laws. This includes altering or striking out the preprinted language above the space provided for your signature.
This penalty is added to any other penalty provided by law. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170729
If there is any underpayment of tax on your return due to fraud, a penalty of 75% of the underpayment due to fraud will be added to your tax. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170730
The fraud penalty on a joint return does not apply to a spouse unless some part of the underpayment is due to the fraud of that spouse. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170731
If you do not include your SSN or the SSN of another person where required on a return, statement, or other document, you will be subject to a penalty of $50 for each failure. You will also be subject to a penalty of $50 if you do not give your SSN to another person when it is required on a return, statement, or other document.
For example, if you have a bank account that earns interest, you must give your SSN to the bank. The number must be shown on the Form 1099-INT or other statement the bank sends you. If you do not give the bank your SSN, you will be subject to the $50 penalty. (You also may be subject to "backup" withholding of income tax. See chapter 4
You will not have to pay the penalty if you are able to show that the failure was due to reasonable cause and not willful neglect. taxmap/pub17/p17-009.htm#en_us_publink1000170733
You may be subject to criminal prosecution (brought to trial) for actions such as:
- Tax evasion,
- Willful failure to file a return, supply information, or pay any tax due,
- Fraud and false statements, or
- Preparing and filing a fraudulent return.