A new year is underway, and the IRS is officially accepting tax returns starting January 21, 2014. It’s time for you to get organized and figure out what you need to do in order to create a smoother situation this year. Here is a tax time checklist that can help…
So it’s finally May. You know what that means? Well, several things … but tax season is over! How was your tax-filing experience this year? Mine was a pain, but I got a larger refund in the end, so that’s good.
About a week ago, I received an email from H&R Block asking if I was sure I got the maximum refund. I also got an email from TurboTax asking if I needed help amending my return. I’m pretty much over the whole tax thing, but maybe it’s worth another look. Double checking your taxes is a wise choice, especially if you catch a mistake and need to file an amended tax return.
H&R Block offers a free Second Look Review for taxes that were filed online or through another tax preparer up to three years ago. They’ll make sure you filed correctly and took advantage of all the credits/exemptions you could. You can go online to take a brief assessment to see if H&R Block can help, and then you can make an appointment. H&R Block will search for credits and exemptions and then refile for you.
Some of the common mistakes people make include missing education credits, filing with the wrong status and missing the earned income tax credit for lower-income families.
How long should I keep old tax returns?
Finding three years of missed tax refunds would be like hitting the lottery … almost. By the way, how long should you keep your tax documents? As a general rule, the IRS suggests you should keep your returns for three years, and TurboTax has some good advice for situations in which you should keep your returns longer.
So, let’s say you did catch a mistake after you filed your taxes; before rushing to send in an amendment, stop and see if an amendment is even necessary. The IRS says you don’t need to worry about some mistakes like math errors or missing schedules; they’ll usually fix these or request what they need. On the other hand, you should amend your return to correct things like your filing status, income, deductions or credits.
How to amend your taxes
If, after filing your taxes, you realize you did make a mistake, you’ll need to use Form 1040X to file amended federal tax returns. For this form, you can’t e-file; you have to mail it in. If you need to change your state returns, you’ll need the required state form, and most states require Form 1040X as well.
You usually have to file the amended returns within three years of the date you originally filed the return, or within two years of when you paid the taxes, whichever is the later one. If you want to amend more than one tax return, you need to file a separate Form 1040X for each return.
If your amended return requires different schedules or forms, you’ll have to include those as well. If you’re refiling for a bigger refund, wait until you get your original refund before refiling so things don’t get confused. But if you owe more, refile and pay that money as soon as possible to avoid interest and fees.
You can track your amended return through the IRS’s Where’s My Amended Return tool on IRS.gov. You’ll need your taxpayer ID, which is usually your social security number, as well as your date of birth and zip code.
Are you filing an amended tax return this year? How’s the process going? We always love hearing from our readers, so chat us up in the comments!