Can (or should) I amend my old tax returns?


The deadline for filing an amended tax return is generally 3 years after the IRS received your return, or 2 years after the last payment was made, whichever is later. Refunds are only available until 3 years 4 months and 15 days after the end of the tax year, unless a valid extension was obtained. Filing a tax return with a foreign residence can result in an extension until June 15.


If a taxpayer or spouse is "financially disabled" (incapable of managing their financial affairs due to illness which is expected to last one year or more or until death; medical documentation is required; see IRS website for exact definition), a return can usually be filed after the above date.


It may be profitable to amend your old returns in order to enable certain optional ways of filing your return which can influence your tax liability or refunds for future years. This is sometimes true even when no cash refund can be obtained.


Therefore, if it is not too late for you to amend your old returns, you should send them to us with your current records. In certain circumstances, large differences in your balance can result from changing them.


If you did not file for year 2005, it is too late to file, unless the IRS decides that you likely owe taxes and requires it.


It has been stated that it is possible for one who was abroad an April 15 to file a return until June 15 (three years five months and 15 days). According to the relevant sections of the law (which I checked) it may be possible to understand that the deadline really is April 15.


Some accountants have posted on the web that the deadline IS June 15. Some IRS reps at the Tax Law line (I discussed this matter again in March 2007 with two reps who) were not sure that it is possible to receive a refund for a return that is more than three years late. They said that the due date was 4/15/04, and that it is unlikely that the "statute unit" will approve a refund if the grounds for filing after 4/15/07 are residence abroad.


In the cases we handled, the statute unit did, in fact approve refunds for overseas taxpayers when the return was filed on or before 6/15. Almost all of the cases where returns were filed by June 15 were eventually accepted on appeal. However, it is not completely clear that this will happen in all cases in the future, so it is generally recommended that returns be filed, when possible, by April 15.



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