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When Will the IRS Process Amended Returns?


Aug. 31 2021, Published 1:03 p.m. ET

Along with processing regular tax returns, the IRS has had delays in processing amended tax returns. Amended tax returns are used to correct mistakes a person made on their original federal return. It’s a great way to make adjustments, such as changing filing status, income, credits, or deductions.

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The IRS recommends to not file an amended return if you forgot to include a form or schedule, as it will reach out to you directly about those missing items. It may also fix math errors you made, so you don't need to file an amendment for those, either.

The special form used to file an amended tax return is Form 1040-X, Amended U.S. Individual Tax Return. The IRS recommends that if you expect a tax refund from your original return but you have to file a 1040-X, you should wait for that refund before filing the form.

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One of the downsides of submitting an amended return is that you have to physically mail the completed form, even if you filled out your original return electronically. These types of returns can be a nuisance and lead to delays but, in the end, they could help you receive more of a refund or pay less money.

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Why is my amended tax return taking so long?

According to a Jun. 2021 report by the National Taxpayer Advocate, there were over 35 million individual and business income tax returns that required manual processing by the IRS. Those backlogged tax returns included nearly 16.8 million paper returns, 15.8 million returns that were suspended and needed review, and 2.7 million that were awaiting processing.

The backlogs resulted mainly from the IRS processing pandemic-related paperwork, such as stimulus packages, rebate credits, and other types of credit payments.

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The IRS also had fewer employees than usual. As a result, calls to the IRS were not being answered or returned, with only seven percent of callers being able to reach assistance via the account management lines. The National Taxpayer Advocate said that the IRS received 167 million phone calls in the 2021 filing season, over four times more than in the 2019 filing season.

When will the IRS start processing my amended tax return?

During the 2021 filing season, the IRS processed 136 million individual income tax returns, issuing 96 million refunds totaling $270 billion. As the IRS resolved its internal problems, it says that an amended return will take up to three weeks to show up in the IRS system from the time the IRS receives the return in the mail. Then, processing the return can take up to 16 weeks. If you go to the IRS website, you can check the status of your amended return. You’ll need your social security number, date of birth, and zip code for access.


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