If you had to submit an amended tax return this year, you may be wondering how come you haven’t received your tax refund yet. Due to IRS staffing shortages and an influx of amended returns, the IRS has a backlog of unprocessed returns. As of May 2023, the IRS had 4.2 million unprocessed returns, including 2022 returns, 2021 returns filed late and amended returns.
That means your amended tax return could take a while to process. But how long should you expect to wait, and how can you track it while you do?
What Is an Amended Tax Return?
An amended tax return, form 1040-X, is the form you file if you realize you’ve made an error or need to make changes on the income, deductions, credits or filing status on your tax returns.
Reasons to File An Amended Return
The most common reasons to file an amended tax return is because you realized you made an error on your income, deductions or track credits. You can also file an amended return if you need to make changes to your filing status.
If the IRS makes an adjustment on your tax return and you disagree with their assessment, you can also file an amended return with the correct amounts based on your records.
Self-employed individuals may file an amended return if they had tax deductions they didn’t realize they could claim. Sometimes, if you hire a new tax accountant, they will review your prior year’s forms for deductions you may have missed and help you file an amended return to claim the refund you deserve.
Where Is Your Amended Return?
If you haven’t received a refund from your amended return yet, you may want to track it so you can make sure it didn’t hit any snags and also so you can account for the money in your budget when it arrives.
It’s a good idea to put any tax refunds into a savings account, especially if you don’t already have three to six months of living expenses saved up in an emergency account. You might also use your refund to pay down high-interest debt. But if you have upcoming expenses, it’s always nice to know you have some extra cash coming in.
How Long Do Amended Returns Take?
Even though you’re getting edgy to see that refund check or direct deposit, you may wonder if it’s too soon to start tracking your return. The IRS advises that it will take up to three weeks after you mailed an amended return for it to show up in the system.
E-filed returns may show up sooner than three weeks — but not all amended returns can be e-filed. Either way, you’ll want to wait at least three weeks before you start tracking your return.
Processing can take up to 20 weeks, according to the IRS. So, if you can be patient, you may not need to track your amended return until roughly five months have passed.
What You Need to Track Your Amended Return
Before you begin tracking your amended return, gather what you need for the process. Fortunately, it’s pretty simple and you should have all the information in your head. You’ll need:
- Your Social Security or Tax ID number
- Date of birth
- Zip code
How To Track Your Amended Return
Once you have your personal information for verification, visit the “Where’s My Amended Return” page on the IRS website. This page is different from the “Where’s My Refund?” page, which only tracks original returns, not amended returns.
Once you visit the site and enter your information, the IRS will display the status of your amended return as:
“Received” means the IRS received your return but hasn’t completed processing it. It’s “in the system,” so to speak. It could be another 20 weeks before you receive your refund.
“Adjusted” means the IRS has reviewed the return and made the appropriate adjustments. If you are due a refund, it should be coming soon. Otherwise, you will receive a notice saying you have a balance due or that there is no change in your taxes.
“Completed” means the IRS has finished reviewing and adjusting your returns. Keep an eye out in the mail for a refund or a tax bill.
If the system can’t find your return, it could be because three weeks have not passed so your amended return hasn’t yet been marked as “received.” It might also be because the return is for business, not personal, income taxes. Alternatively, if the amended return has a foreign address, the IRS will not process it. Finally, if your amended return is more than three years old, the IRS will not track it.
Finally, in a worst-case — albeit rare — scenario, if your amended return doesn’t match any of the descriptions above that could cause a problem, it could have been lost in transit and never received by the IRS.
If three weeks have passed and the online tracking tool cannot find your amended return, you can call 866-464-2050 and speak to an IRS representative. The IRS representatives typically don’t have any more information than the online tracking tools, so you may have to re-file form 1040-X.
How Will I Receive My Amended Tax Refund?
You can request direct deposit for electronically filed amended returns from tax year 2021 and 2022, beginning in filing year 2023, according to the IRS. If you entered your bank information on 1040-X, you will receive your refund via direct deposit to that account number. Otherwise, you will receive a check in the mail.
Tracking an amended tax return is easy, but you should wait at least three weeks, and possibly as long as 20 weeks, from when you filed to spend time tracking the status.
FAQHere are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about tracking amended returns.
- What is taking my amended return so long?
- Your amended return might be delayed if it has mistakes or is not complete. If you forgot to sign it, that can also cause delays. If the IRS returned the form to you for more information, that will also cause a delay.
- In general, even without delays, the IRS says that amended returns are taking up to 20 weeks to process, which is one month longer than the typical, pre-covid, 20 weeks.
- How long are amended returns taking 2023?
- Amended returns can take as long as 20 weeks in 2023 as the IRS tries to catch up from a backlog of returns.
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- Forbes. 2023. "IRS Processing Updates Include Up To 20-Week Wait For Amended Tax Returns."
- Taxpayer Advocate Service. 2023. "Amending a Tax Return."
- IRS. 2023. "Where's My Amended Return?"
- IRS. 2023. "Amended Returns & Form 1040X 3."