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Last week I filed my tax return. For the child care credit, I wrote I spent X dollars. I redid the calculations, and turns out I spent X+6 dollars. This obviously can’t make me owe more taxes and does not give me more of a credit. Since I live abroad, there is no official documentation that the IRS would have access to to point out the mistake. So this is a (seemingly) harmless mistake that does not change my status and the IRS probably can’t pick up on. Is this the kind of thing to send an amended tax return over?

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    As this error seems to be to your disadvantage, I doubt they care. IANAL though ... – Daniel Feb 27 at 12:20
  • @Daniel do you mean its to my advantage? – David Feb 27 at 12:41
  • If you spent more than you reported, you´d have declared less deduction than you could, so not, this is to your disadvantage. – Daniel Feb 27 at 12:43
  • Taxes are basically rounded to the $50, this is inconsequential error. Move on. – Pete B. Feb 27 at 13:20
  • Does childcare spending go on the 1040 itself, or one of the supplemental forms or worksheets? Seems to me if it is the latter, then your return wouldn't be amended at all. – Wesley Marshall Feb 27 at 13:28
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Is this the kind of thing to send an amended tax return over?

No. If the error didn't result in more credit, it's because you've already gotten the maximum credit/benefit available to you. The IRS does indicate that people should file an amended return if they didn't claim the correct filing status or they need to change their income, deductions, or credits. In this case, even though the amount you're reporting is related to a credit, it didn't actually change the amount of the credit, so no point filing an amended return (the 1040x would show no different values than your 1040).

The IRS will catch any math errors and pick up on any missing forms they already have a copy of, like W-2, 1099, etc., without amendment. An error on a self-reported value is typically only caught in audit, and there is no penalty for errors in the IRS favor.

While you should file an amended return if ever your error caused you to pay less tax than you should have, many people might choose not to bother if the difference was a small amount. The interest, penalty for late-payment, and even penalty for negligence are all percentages of the outstanding amount. However, tax-evasion can carry much larger penalties and potential for jail time.

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