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Should you amend your tax returns?

Michigan taxpayers sometimes make mistakes when filing returns, but only become aware of the mistake at a later date. Some taxpayers choose to amend their returns when this happens. But whether actually amending your return is the correct course depends on your individual circumstances.

In some instances, errors on returns are due to errors in making calculations or forgetting to include particular forms when filing your taxes. Whether you should amend primarily depends upon what sort of information requires correction, and what your intent was when filing.

Rules pertaining to amending your return

Amendment of a return may not be necessary in fixing a mathematical error. Generally the IRS will correct such errors for you. Likewise, if you failed to supply a form such as a schedule or W-2, amendment may not be necessary. The IRS often processes returns without such forms or will ask you for the form at a later date.

In some circumstances, it is possible to file with the IRS a “superseding” return. This means filing a return in place of the original filing. This is only allowable if you file the superseding return prior to the due date, however. In doing this, you also run the risk of causing confusion among officials regarding which return is legitimate.

There are also timing requirements surrounding the filing of an amended return. Such a return requires filing within either three years of the original filing or two years from whenever you actually paid the taxes. The later of the two dates is what the IRS will look at as a deadline.

Filing an amended return does not restart the three-year limitations period. This is important to remember if your amended return shows you owe even more money. In such a situation, the IRS will assess what you owe within 60 days of the amended return filing.

Were you aware of inaccuracies when filing the original return?

If you were aware that your original return contained inaccuracies, you need to understand the consequences of filing an amended return. While filing an amended return can set the record straight, it is also possible that you may alert the IRS to the fact you filed a fraudulent return. This could lead to civil or criminal charges regarding fraud and tax evasion.

We suggest that you speak to an experienced tax attorney in such circumstances. You may be facing large fines and even jail time when facing criminal tax charges. The IRS has tremendous power and discretion in dealing with such matters.

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