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On amended tax returns, and why you shouldn't worry too much

So you filed your tax return a few months ago and it feels great to have your tax refund in the bank. You go about your day merrily, thinking nothing of it. In fact, days, weeks and even months pass before you even think about that tax return. One day, it just pops into your head: "Oh no, I made a mistake on my tax return! They are going to audit me for sure!"

First of all, while it may seem as though your math error or honest mistake could lead to the Internal Revenue Service opening up an investigation into your return, don't panic. It is rare for the IRS to audit someone, generally speaking. It is rarer still -- nearly unheard of, actually -- for the IRS to audit someone due to a simple math error or honest mistake. The IRS will actually correct such mistakes on your behalf, usually without informing you or needing your input.

Mistakes happen, and even the IRS knows that. So after you have collected your thoughts upon realizing there is a mistake in your filing, and knowing the IRS will correct simple things on your behalf, ask yourself whether the filing needs to be amended. If it does, then you can submit Form 1040X to the IRS for any issues relating to your tax filing for up to three years prior.

Remember: an amended tax return can be utilized to benefit you too, not just to correct a mistake you made. If you actually qualify for certain exemptions or deductions that you weren't aware of previously, then you could amend your return to qualify.

Source: NBC Bay Area, "How to Amend a Tax Return," May 26, 2016

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