Once you notice a problem with your tax return, your first inclination is usually to rescind the whole thing to make it go away. Unfortunately, the IRS doesn’t work like that. Although there is a process that allows for making changes to your tax return, you can’t just void it out. The good thing is that you can make any necessary changes to your return with very little hassle.
Once you file a return, that return will remain part of your tax record unless you make changes to the return. If you made an error on your original return, or need to replace the original return with a new filing, you are required to file an amended return. An amended return replaces your original return. However, the IRS will always maintain a record of the original filing.
To file an amended return, complete a Form 1040X and mail it to the service center listed for your region, which is found in the instructions for Form 1040X. Unlike your original income tax return, your amended return cannot be electronically filed. In addition to completing the 1040X, you will need to complete any supporting schedules on which entries are being changed. You will complete the section of the amended return that corresponds to the entries you are correcting. For example, if you are making changes to the income amount listed on your return, then you will complete lines 1 to 22 on your 1040X.
If you e-file your return and it is rejected by the IRS, that is the equivalent of hitting the reset button. It’s as if your return was never filed. You can totally redo your return and resend it without incident. Returns are normally rejected due to a critical mistake on the return, such as an incorrect Social Security number or date of birth, or a failure to fill out a required field. If your e-filed return is accepted by the IRS processing center, you are required to wait until the return has completed processing before you are allowed to file an amended return to make any changes. The same applies for a mailed return. Once you’ve put it in the mail, it's gone and can’t be rescinded. You must wait the processing period, usually six to eight weeks, to make changes by means of a 1040X.
If you want to rescind your tax return because part of your refund went to pay your spouse’s tax debt or child support, then there’s no need. Just complete an injured spouse claim using Form 8379 and send it in. The IRS usually audits returns within one to three years, so make changes to your return as soon as you notice a discrepancy.
Denise Caldwell is a finance writer who has been writing on taxation and finance since 2006. Her articles appear regularly on websites such as Gomestic.com and MoneyNing.com. She has taken what she learned while working at the IRS to provide readers with helpful tax and finance tips. Caldwell received a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Howard University.