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How to amend mistakes in Already Filed Tax Return

According to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), you should not panic if you forgot to claim a deduction or made an error in your tax return. To fix the mistake, you need to file an amended return. Similarly, you should panic if you made a mistake on a nonresident alien income tax return. Fixing the error is not as complex as it seems, and consulting an expert can alleviate your worries.

The U.S. tax is not straightforward, especially to a nonresident who is unfamiliar with the American tax system. In fact, the IRS understands that the tax code is not straightforward and that people make errors.

There are various reasons that make a tax return deemed ‘incomplete’ or ‘incorrect”. These range from simple things such as not signing a form, to major problems like misreporting income. All these might affect the legality of your tax return.

Although making an error on your return is not a major issue, the best thing is to file an amended tax return to fix the issue.

Once you realize that you made a mistake on a tax return that you have already filed, you need to correct that by filing an amended tax return.

To fix your tax return appropriately, you need to know these things:

When do you need to amend a Filed Tax Return?

It is important to note that not all errors need an amended tax return. The right time to amend your tax return is when you want to:

1. Rectify your filing status

Did you file as single then got married later in the year? You should correct your tax return by filing under the ideal status. Choose the married filing separately or married filing jointly status.

It is worth noting that nonresidents only have the married filing separately option.

2. Correct the claimed number of dependents

Do you want to claim some extra dependents? Alternatively, did you claim ineligible dependents? If so, you should amend your return to change the exemptions amount.

According to the universal IRS rule, a nonresident alien can claim just one personal exemption, irrespective of being single or married but on condition. One was not be listed as a dependent on another U.S. tax return.

The universal rule has some exceptions that let certain groups of taxpayers’ petition dependent exclusion for their family members. These include:

  • Residents of India.
  • The residents of the Republic of Korea.
  • Residents from Canada or Mexico.

You should confirm if you qualify to petition a special exception for your dependent with the relevant authority.

3. Rectify your income and tax figures

You should file an amended tax return if:

  • Get extra tax documents each tax year.
  • You forgot to attach all your payment documents when submitting your returns.

For example, if your Form W-2 got into your mail after the tax deadline or forgot to file it,

4. Request all of the allowable tax credits or tax deductions

If you did not ask all the allowable tax credits or tax deductions when filing your original return, you need to correct your tax return.

Before 2017, international students used the various existing deductions to lower their gross tax burden. Nevertheless, President Donald Trump started a GOP tax reform bill in November 2017, which introduced broad tax-linked changes for most taxpayers.

5. If you received an unentitled CARES Act payment

Following the COVID-19 pandemic economic effects, the U.S. government established the CARES Act, as a response. The CARES Act stands for Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security. This initiative offers several financial supports, which are eligible for a claim by permanent residents and U.S. citizens for tax reasons.

All nonresident aliens are ineligible to get this stimulus.

In case you receive this payment as a mistake, you should return the payment to the IRS and file an amended return. However, you should separately send the payment and your amended return. You should also attach a cover note to your amended return to the state the reason you returned the payment.

6. If you filed the wrong tax return form

In some cases, you might accidentally file form 1040 in place of form 1040NR/1040NR E.Z. Form 1040 is for U.S. citizens and residents, while form 1040NR is for nonresidents.

Any nonresident who files the returns using form 1040 instead of the nonresidents’ form can take deductions or ask credits, yet they are not entitled. As a result, their tax returns stand inaccurate, something that can get them into problems with the IRS in the future. In such a case, you should correct your tax returns.


You can use Form 1040X to start one or more of the above-listed corrections. The Form 1040X (Amended U.S. personal Income Tax Return) enables you to correct the federal income tax return, which you had previously filed.

When Should You Not Amend a Filed Tax Return?

Not all cases need you to correct your tax return. In some instances, the IRS corrects your math errors as it processes your original return. You do not need to file more paperwork.

Sometimes, you can forget to attach any necessary form with your return. In such a case, you will receive an email from IRS requesting you to send the missing paper to enable them to complete processing your return. Once you get an alert on errors in your return, you can use other ways to fix the errors without amending the tax return.

You can fix all these misunderstandings within a short time by providing the right information to the IRS. Indeed, the notification you get explains what the issue is and how to correct that issue.

How do you amend your federal or state tax return?

Always remember that you cannot edit your return after sending it off. It is also good to state that you should avoid trying to fix the mistake by filling another new Form 1040NR return. By doing so, you will cause further confusion and unnecessary problems.

Instead, you should file a Form 1040-X to correct your federal tax return. This form allows you to amend the U.S. personal Income Tax Return, irrespective of the days you filed the original return.

You do not need to amend the full return. Instead, you just need to state the necessary changes, and then fix your tax burden well.

The state you live in uses a special form to fix your tax return that you need to include to your federal state tax return.

Can you file an amended tax return electronically?

The answer is NO. You cannot e-file any of your amended tax return. This means you can only file amended tax returns on paper.

After completing to fill the form, mail it to the IRS together with all the necessary supporting documents. Once the IRS receives your return, they take 8-12weeks to process form 1040X.

In a situation where you want to amend for more than one year, make sure you make the separate filing of form 1040X for every tax year.


The process of amending tax returns is not difficult. However, most people find the whole thing of amending their return and dealing with the IRS quite demanding.

What Happens After Amending Your Tax Return?

a) If you owe more taxes

You should file Form 1040X and then pay your taxes within the shortest time possible to cut penalties and interest. If your paid original return is less than your amended return, you will more extra interest and penalties.

Although you may amend a return of the past one or two years, the deadline for the original return and payment is gone. The IRS does not penalize minor mistakes. However, it will start by collecting specific interest on the amount you failed to pay on time. Therefore, you will pay less interest if you can fix the error fast.

b) If you want to claim an extra tax refund

If you want to claim an additional tax refund, you have to wait until you get your original tax refund before filing Form 1040X. The normal time to process amended returns is 12 weeks. In the meantime, you can cash your first refund as you wait for the additional refund.

Furthermore, you MUST file your amended return in three years since the day you filed your first return. Alternatively, in two years’ time after the day, you paid your latest tax to receive the additional refund.

How long does it take to process an amended tax return?

The IRS says processing form 1040X takes up to 16 weeks after they receive the form.

How do you check your amended tax return status?

You can follow all the processing stages of your fixed return using the IRS Where’s My Amended Return tool. This is from the receipt to the completion stage. This tool allows you to trace and check if your amended return is in the received, corrected, or completed stage.

How long does it take to receive a refund from an amended tax return?

You should be patient because there is no specific time when you will receive your amended tax refund.

Indeed, making a call to the IRS cannot speed up the process of amending your tax return.

Can amending a tax return raise a red flag?

Each year, thousands of people in the U.S. amend their tax returns. Thus, there is no need to worry about getting an audit because of amending your tax.

For everything to work well, make sure you give the IRS will all the necessary information about your amended tax return. If you need an expert’s help in understanding and amending your mistakes,feel free to contact us at UBOS.

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