Publication 939 - Main Content


General Information

Some of the terms used in this publication are defined in the following paragraphs.

  • A pension is generally a series of payments made to you after you retire from work. Pension payments are made regularly and are for past services with an employer.

  • An annuity is a series of payments under a contract. You can buy the contract alone or you can buy it with the help of your employer. Annuity payments are made regularly for more than one full year.

Note.

Distributions from pensions and annuities follow the same rules as outlined in this publication unless otherwise noted.

Types of pensions and annuities.   Particular types of pensions and annuities include:
  1. Fixed period annuities. You receive definite amounts at regular intervals for a definite length of time.

  2. Annuities for a single life. You receive definite amounts at regular intervals for life. The payments end at death.

  3. Joint and survivor annuities. The first annuitant receives a definite amount at regular intervals for life. After he or she dies, a second annuitant receives a definite amount at regular intervals for life. The amount paid to the second annuitant may or may not differ from the amount paid to the first annuitant.

  4. Variable annuities. You receive payments that may vary in amount for a definite length of time or for life. The amounts you receive may depend upon such variables as profits earned by the pension or annuity funds or cost-of-living indexes.

  5. Disability pensions. You are under minimum retirement age and receive payments because you retired on disability. If, at the time of your retirement, you were permanently and totally disabled, you may be eligible for the credit for the elderly or the disabled discussed in Publication 524.

If your annuity starting date is after November 18, 1996, the General Rule cannot be used for the following qualified plans.

  • A qualified employee plan is an employer's stock bonus, pension, or profit-sharing plan that is for the exclusive benefit of employees or their beneficiaries. This plan must meet Internal Revenue Code requirements. It qualifies for special tax benefits, including tax deferral for employer contributions and rollover distributions. However, you must use the General Rule if you were 75 or over and the annuity payments are guaranteed for more than 5 years.

  • A qualified employee annuity is a retirement annuity purchased by an employer for an employee under a plan that meets Internal Revenue Code requirements.

  • A tax-sheltered annuity is a special annuity plan or contract purchased for an employee of a public school or tax-exempt organization.

 

The General Rule is used to figure the tax treatment of various types of pensions and annuities, including nonqualified employee plans. A nonqualified employee plan is an employer's plan that does not meet Internal Revenue Code requirements. It does not qualify for most of the tax benefits of a qualified plan.

Annuity worksheets.   The worksheets found near the end of the text of this publication may be useful to you in figuring the taxable part of your annuity.

Request for a ruling.   If you are unable to determine the income tax treatment of your pension or annuity, you may ask the Internal Revenue Service to figure the taxable part of your annuity payments. This is treated as a request for a ruling. See Requesting a Ruling on Taxation of Annuity near the end of this publication.

Withholding tax and estimated tax.   Your pension or annuity is subject to federal income tax withholding unless you choose not to have tax withheld. If you choose not to have tax withheld from your pension or annuity, or if you do not have enough income tax withheld, you may have to make estimated tax payments.

Taxation of Periodic Payments

This section explains how the periodic payments you receive under a pension or annuity plan are taxed under the General Rule. Periodic payments are amounts paid at regular intervals (such as weekly, monthly, or yearly) for a period of time greater than one year (such as for 15 years or for life). These payments are also known as amounts received as an annuity.

If you receive an amount from your plan that is a nonperiodic payment (amount not received as an annuity), see Taxation of Nonperiodic Payments in Publication 575.

In general, you can recover your net cost of the pension or annuity tax free over the period you are to receive the payments. The amount of each payment that is more than the part that represents your net cost is taxable. Under the General Rule, the part of each annuity payment that represents your net cost is in the same proportion that your investment in the contract is to your expected return. These terms are explained in the following discussions.

Investment in the Contract

In figuring how much of your pension or annuity is taxable under the General Rule, you must figure your investment in the contract.

First, find your net cost of the contract as of the annuity starting date (defined later). To find this amount, you must first figure the total premiums, contributions, or other amounts paid. This includes the amounts your employer contributed if you were required to include these amounts in income. It also includes amounts you actually contributed (except amounts for health and accident benefits and deductible voluntary employee contributions).

From this total cost you subtract:

  1. Any refunded premiums, rebates, dividends, or unrepaid loans (any of which were not included in your income) that you received by the later of the annuity starting date or the date on which you received your first payment.

  2. Any additional premiums paid for double indemnity or disability benefits.

  3. Any other tax-free amounts you received under the contract or plan before the later of the dates in (1).

The annuity starting date   is the later of the first day of the first period for which you receive payment under the contract or the date on which the obligation under the contract becomes fixed.

Example.

On January 1 you completed all your payments required under an annuity contract providing for monthly payments starting on August 1, for the period beginning July 1. The annuity starting date is July 1. This is the date you use in figuring your investment in the contract and your expected return (discussed later).

Adjustments

If any of the following items apply, adjust (add or subtract) your total cost to find your net cost.

Foreign employment.   If you worked abroad, your cost may include contributions by your employer to the retirement plan, but only if those contributions would be excludible from your gross income had they been paid directly to you as compensation. The contributions that apply are:
  1. Contributions before 1963 by your employer,

  2. Contributions after 1962 by your employer if the contributions would be excludible from your gross income (without regard to the foreign earned income exclusion) had they been paid directly to you, or

  3. Contributions after 1996 by your employer on your behalf if you performed the services of a foreign missionary (a duly ordained, commissioned, or licensed minister of a church or a lay person) if the contributions would be excludible from your gross income had they been paid directly to you.

Foreign employment contributions while a nonresident alien.   In determining your cost, special rules apply if you are a U.S. citizen or resident alien who received distributions from a plan to which contributions were made while you were a nonresident alien. Your contributions and your employer's contributions are not included in your cost if the contributions:
  • Were made based on compensation which was for services performed outside the United States which you were a nonresident alien, and

  • Were not subject to income tax under the laws of the United States or any foreign country, but only if the contribution would have been subject to income tax if they had been paid as cash compensation when the services were performed.

Death benefit exclusion.   If you are the beneficiary of a deceased employee (or former employee), who died before August 21, 1996, you may qualify for a death benefit exclusion of up to $5,000. The beneficiary of a deceased employee who died after August 20, 1996, will not qualify for the death benefit exclusion.

How to adjust your total cost.   If you are eligible, treat the amount of any allowable death benefit exclusion as additional cost paid by the employee. Add it to the cost or unrecovered cost of the annuity at the annuity starting date. See Example 3 under Computation Under General Rule for an illustration of the adjustment to the cost of the contract.

Net cost.   Your total cost plus certain adjustments and minus other amounts already recovered before the annuity starting date is your net cost. This is the unrecovered investment in the contract as of the annuity starting date. If your annuity starting date is after 1986, this is the maximum amount that you may recover tax free under the contract.

Refund feature.   Adjustment for the value of the refund feature is only applicable when you report your pension or annuity under the General Rule. Your annuity contract has a refund feature if:
  1. The expected return ( discussed later) of an annuity depends entirely or partly on the life of one or more individuals,

  2. The contract provides that payments will be made to a beneficiary or the estate of an annuitant on or after the death of the annuitant if a stated amount or a stated number of payments has not been paid to the annuitant or annuitants before death, and

  3. The payments are a refund of the amount you paid for the annuity contract.

  If your annuity has a refund feature, you must reduce your net cost of the contract by the value of the refund feature (figured using Table III or VII at the end of this publication, also see How To Use Actuarial Tables , later) to find the investment in the contract.

Zero value of refund feature.   For a joint and survivor annuity, the value of the refund feature is zero if:
  1. Both annuitants are age 74 or younger,

  2. The payments are guaranteed for less than 2½ years, and

  3. The survivor's annuity is at least 50% of the first annuitant's annuity.

  For a single-life annuity without survivor benefit, the value of the refund feature is zero if:
  1. The payments are guaranteed for less than 2½ years, and

  2. The annuitant is:

    1. Age 57 or younger (if using the new (unisex) annuity tables),

    2. Age 42 or younger (if male and using the old annuity tables), or

    3. Age 47 or younger (if female and using the old annuity tables).

  If you do not meet these requirements, you will have to figure the value of the refund feature, as explained in the following discussion.

Examples.

The first example shows how to figure the value of the refund feature when there is only one beneficiary. Example 2 shows how to figure the value of the refund feature when the contract provides, in addition to a whole life annuity, one or more temporary life annuities for the lives of children. In both examples, the taxpayer elects to use Tables V through VIII. If you need the value of the refund feature for a joint and survivor annuity, write to the Internal Revenue Service as explained under Requesting a Ruling on Taxation of Annuity near the end of this publication.

Example 1.

At age 65, Barbara bought for $21,053 an annuity with a refund feature. She will get $100 a month for life. Barbara's contract provides that if she does not live long enough to recover the full $21,053, similar payments will be made to her surviving beneficiary until a total of $21,053 has been paid under the contract. In this case, the contract cost and the total guaranteed return are the same ($21,053). Barbara's investment in the contract is figured as follows:

Net cost $21,053
Amount to be received annually $1,200  
Number of years for which payment is guaranteed ($21,053 divided by $1,200) 17.54  
Rounded to nearest whole number of years 18  
Percentage from Actuarial Table VII for age 65 with 18 years of guaranteed payments 15%  
Value of the refund feature (rounded to the nearest dollar)—15% of $21,053 3,158
Investment in the contract, adjusted for value of refund feature $17,895
     

If the total guaranteed return were less than the $21,053 net cost of the contract, Barbara would apply the appropriate percentage from the tables to the lesser amount. For example, if the contract guaranteed the $100 monthly payments for 17 years to Barbara's estate or beneficiary if she were to die before receiving all the payments for that period, the total guaranteed return would be $20,400 ($100 × 12 × 17 years). In this case, the value of the refund feature would be $2,856 (14% of $20,400) and Barbara's investment in the contract would be $18,197 ($21,053 minus $2,856) instead of $17,895.

Example 2.

John died while still employed. His widow, Eleanor, age 48, receives $171 a month for the rest of her life. John's son, Elmer, age 9, receives $50 a month until he reaches age 18. John's contributions to the retirement fund totaled $7,559.45, with interest on those contributions of $1,602.53. The guarantee or total refund feature of the contract is $9,161.98 ($7,559.45 plus $1,602.53).

The adjustment in the investment in the contract is figured as follows:

A) Expected return:*    
  1) Widow's expected return:    
    Annual annuity ($171 × 12) $2,052  
    Multiplied by factor from Table V    
    (nearest age 48) 34.9 $71,614.80
  2) Child's expected return:    
    Annual annuity ($50 × 12) $600  
    Multiplied by factor from    
    Table VIII (nearest age 9    
    for term of 9 years) 9.0 5,400.00
  3) Total expected return   $77,014.80
B) Adjustment for refund feature:    
  1) Contributions (net cost) $7,559.45
  2) Guaranteed amount (contributions of $7,559.45 plus interest of $1,602.53) $9,161.98
  3) Minus: Expected return under child's (temporary life) annuity (A(2)) 5,400.00
  4) Net guaranteed amount $3,761.98
  5) Multiple from Table VII (nearest age 48 for 2 years duration (recovery of $3,761.98 at $171 a month to nearest whole year)) 0%
  6) Adjustment required for value of refund feature rounded to the nearest whole dollar  
(0% × $3,761.98, the smaller of B(3) or B(6))
0
*Expected return is the total amount you and other eligible annuitants can expect to receive under the contract. See the discussion of expected return, later in this publication.

Free IRS help.   If you need to request assistance to figure the value of the refund feature, see Requesting a Ruling on Taxation of Annuity near the end of this publication.

Expected Return

Your expected return is the total amount you and other eligible annuitants can expect to receive under the contract. The following discussions explain how to figure the expected return with each type of annuity.

A person's age, for purposes of figuring the expected return, is the age at the birthday nearest to the annuity starting date.

Fixed period annuity.   If you will get annuity payments for a fixed number of years, without regard to your life expectancy, you must figure your expected return based on that fixed number of years. It is the total amount you will get beginning at the annuity starting date. You will receive specific periodic payments for a definite period of time, such as a fixed number of months (but not less than 13). To figure your expected return, multiply the fixed number of months for which payments are to be made by the amount of the payment specified for each period.

Single life annuity.   If you are to get annuity payments for the rest of your life, find your expected return as follows. You must multiply the amount of the annual payment by a multiple based on your life expectancy as of the annuity starting date. These multiples are set out in actuarial Tables I and V near the end of this publication (see How To Use Actuarial Tables , later).

  You may need to adjust these multiples if the payments are made quarterly, semiannually, or annually. See Adjustments to Tables I, II, V, VI, and VIA following Table I.

Example.

Henry bought an annuity contract that will give him an annuity of $500 a month for his life. If at the annuity starting date Henry's nearest birthday is 66, the expected return is figured as follows:

Annual payment ($500 × 12 months) $6,000
Multiple shown in Table V, age 66 × 19.2
Expected return $115,200

If the payments were to be made to Henry quarterly and the first payment was made one full month after the annuity starting date, Henry would adjust the 19.2 multiple by +.1. His expected return would then be $115,800 ($6,000 × 19.3).

Annuity for shorter of life or specified period.   With this type of annuity, you are to get annuity payments either for the rest of your life or until the end of a specified period, whichever period is shorter. To figure your expected return, multiply the amount of your annual payment by a multiple in Table IV or VIII for temporary life annuities. Find the proper multiple based on your sex (if using Table IV), your age at the annuity starting date, and the nearest whole number of years in the specified period.

Example.

Harriet purchased an annuity this year that will pay her $200 each month for five years or until she dies, whichever period is shorter. She was age 65 at her birthday nearest the annuity starting date. She figures the expected return as follows:

Annual payment ($200 × 12 months) $2,400
Multiple shown in Table VIII, age 65, 5-year term × 4.9
Expected return $11,760

She uses Table VIII (not Table IV) because all her contributions were made after June 30, 1986. See Special Elections, later.

Joint and survivor annuities.   If you have an annuity that pays you a periodic income for life and after your death provides an identical lifetime periodic income to your spouse (or some other person), you figure the expected return based on your combined life expectancies. To figure the expected return, multiply the annual payment by a multiple in Table II or VI based on your joint life expectancies. If your payments are made quarterly, semiannually, or annually, you may need to adjust these multiples. See Adjustments to Tables I, II, V, VI, and VIA following Table I near the end of this publication.

Example.

John bought a joint and survivor annuity providing payments of $500 a month for his life, and, after his death, $500 a month for the remainder of his wife's life. At John's annuity starting date, his age at his nearest birthday is 70 and his wife's at her nearest birthday is 67. The expected return is figured as follows:

Annual payment ($500 × 12 months) $6,000
Multiple shown in Table VI, ages 67 and 70 × 22.0
Expected return $132,000

Different payments to survivor.   If your contract provides that payments to a survivor annuitant will be different from the amount you receive, you must use a computation which accounts for both the joint lives of the annuitants and the life of the survivor.

Example 1.

Gerald bought a contract providing for payments to him of $500 a month for life and, after his death, payments to his wife, Mary, of $350 a month for life. If, at the annuity starting date, Gerald's nearest birthday is 70 and Mary's is 67, the expected return under the contract is figured as follows:

Combined multiple for Gerald and Mary, ages 70 and 67 (from Table VI)   22.0
Multiple for Gerald, age 70 (from Table V)   16.0
Difference: Multiple applicable to Mary   6.0
Gerald's annual payment ($500 × 12) $6,000  
Gerald's multiple 16.0  
Gerald's expected return   $96,000
Mary's annual payment ($350 × 12) $4,200  
Mary's multiple 6.0  
Mary's expected return   25,200
Total expected return under the contract   $121,200

Example 2.

Your husband died while still employed. Under the terms of his employer's retirement plan, you are entitled to get an immediate annuity of $400 a month for the rest of your life or until you remarry. Your daughters, Marie and Jean, are each entitled to immediate temporary life annuities of $150 a month until they reach age 18.

You were 50 years old at the annuity starting date. Marie was 16 and Jean was 14. Using the multiples shown in Tables V and VIII at the end of this publication, the total expected return on the annuity starting date is $169,680, figured as follows:

Widow, age 50 (multiple from Table V—33.1 × $4,800 annual payment) $158,880
Marie, age 16 for 2 years duration (multiple from Table VIII—2.0 × $1,800 annual payment) 3,600
Jean, age 14 for 4 years duration (multiple from Table VIII—4.0 × $1,800 annual payment) 7,200
Total expected return $169,680

No computation of expected return is made based on your husband's age at the date of death because he died before the annuity starting date.

Computation Under the General Rule

Note.

Variable annuities use a different computation for determining the exclusion amounts. See Variable annuities later.

Under the General Rule, you figure the taxable part of your annuity by using the following steps:

Step 1.   Figure the amount of your investment in the contract, including any adjustments for the refund feature and the death benefit exclusion, if applicable. See Death benefit exclusion , earlier.

Step 2.   Figure your expected return.

Step 3.   Divide Step 1 by Step 2 and round to three decimal places. This will give you the exclusion percentage.

Step 4.   Multiply the exclusion percentage by the first regular periodic payment. The result is the tax-free part of each pension or annuity payment.

  The tax-free part remains the same even if the total payment increases due to variation in the annuity amount such as cost of living increases, or you outlive the life expectancy factor used. However, if your annuity starting date is after 1986, the total amount of annuity income that is tax free over the years cannot exceed your net cost.

  Each annuitant applies the same exclusion percentage to his or her initial payment called for in the contract.

Step 5.   Multiply the tax-free part of each payment (step 4) by the number of payments received during the year. This will give you the tax-free part of the total payment for the year.

  
In the first year of your annuity, your first payment or part of your first payment may be for a fraction of the payment period. This fractional amount is multiplied by your exclusion percentage to get the tax-free part.

Step 6.   Subtract the tax-free part from the total payment you received. The rest is the taxable part of your pension or annuity.

Example 1.

You purchased an annuity with an investment in the contract of $10,800. Under its terms, the annuity will pay you $100 a month for life. The multiple for your age (age 65) is 20.0 as shown in Table V. Your expected return is $24,000 (20 × 12 × $100). Your cost of $10,800, divided by your expected return of $24,000, equals 45.0%. This is the percentage you will not have to include in income.

Each year, until your net cost is recovered, $540 (45% of $1,200) will be tax free and you will include $660 ($1,200 − $540) in your income. If you had received only six payments of $100 ($600) during the year, your exclusion would have been $270 (45% of $100 × 6 payments).

Example 2.

Gerald bought a joint and survivor annuity. Gerald's investment in the contract is $62,712 and the expected return is $121,200. The exclusion percentage is 51.7% ($62,712 ÷ $121,200). Gerald will receive $500 a month ($6,000 a year). Each year, until his net cost is recovered, $3,102 (51.7% of his total payments received of $6,000) will be tax free and $2,898 ($6,000 − $3,102) will be included in his income. If Gerald dies, his wife will receive $350 a month ($4,200 a year). If Gerald had not recovered all of his net cost before his death, his wife will use the same exclusion percentage (51.7%). Each year, until the entire net cost is recovered, his wife will receive $2,171.40 (51.7% of her payments received of $4,200) tax free. She will include $2,028.60 ($4,200 − $2,171.40) in her income tax return.

Example 3.

Using the same facts as Example 2 under Different payments to survivor, you are to receive an annual annuity of $4,800 until you die or remarry. Your two daughters each receive annual annuities of $1,800 until they reach age 18. Your husband contributed $25,576 to the plan. You are eligible for the $5,000 death benefit exclusion because your husband died before August 21, 1996.

Adjusted Investment in the Contract

Contributions $25,576
Plus: Death benefit exclusion 5,000
Adjusted investment in the contract $30,576

The total expected return, as previously figured (in Example 2 under Different payments to survivor), is $169,680. The exclusion percentage of 18.0% ($30,576 ÷ $169,680) applies to the annuity payments you and each of your daughters receive. Each full year $864 (18.0% × $4,800) will be tax free to you, and you must include $3,936 in your income tax return. Each year, until age 18, $324 (18.0% × $1,800) of each of your daughters' payments will be tax free and each must include the balance, $1,476, as income on her own income tax return.

Part-year payments.   If you receive payments for only part of a year, apply the exclusion percentage to the first regular periodic payment, and multiply the result by the number of payments received during the year.

  If you receive amounts during the year that represent 12 payments, one for each month in that year, and an amount that represents payments for months in a prior year, apply the exclusion percentage to the first regular periodic payment, and multiply the result by the number of payments the amounts received represent. For instance, if you received amounts during the year that represent the 12 payments for that year plus an amount that represents three payments for a prior year, multiply that amount by the 15 (12 + 3) payments received that the year.

  If you received a fractional payment, follow Step 5, discussed earlier. This gives you the tax-free part of your total payment.

Example.

On September 28, Mary bought an annuity contract for $22,050 that will give her $125 a month for life, beginning October 30. The applicable multiple from Table V is 23.3 (age 61). Her expected return is $34,950 ($125 × 12 × 23.3). Mary's investment in the contract of $22,050, divided by her expected return of $34,950, equals 63.1%. Each payment received will consist of 63.1% return of cost and 36.9% taxable income, until her net cost of the contract is fully recovered. During the first year, Mary received three payments of $125, or $375, of which $236.63 (63.1% × $375) is a return of cost. The remaining $138.37 is included in income.

Increase in annuity payments.   The tax-free amount remains the same as the amount figured at the annuity starting date, even if the payment increases. All increases in the installment payments are fully taxable.

  However, if your annuity payments are scheduled to increase at a definite date in the future you must figure the expected return for that annuity using the method described in section 1.72-5(a)(5) of the regulations.

Example.

Joe's wife died while she was still employed and, as her beneficiary, he began receiving an annuity of $147 per month. In figuring the taxable part, Joe elects to use Tables V through VIII. The cost of the contract was $7,938, consisting of the sum of his wife's net contributions, adjusted for any refund feature. His expected return as of the annuity starting date is $35,280 (age 65, multiple of 20.0 × $1,764 annual payment). The exclusion percentage is $7,938 ÷ $35,280, or 22.5%. During the year he received 11 monthly payments of $147, or $1,617. Of this amount, 22.5% × $147 × 11 ($363.83) is tax free as a return of cost and the balance of $1,253.17 is taxable.

Later, because of a cost-of-living increase, his annuity payment was increased to $166 per month, or $1,992 a year (12 × $166). The tax-free part is still only 22.5% of the annuity payments as of the annuity starting date (22.5% × $147 × 12 = $396.90 for a full year). The increase of $228 ($1,992 − $1,764 (12 × $147)) is fully taxable.

Variable annuities.   For variable annuity payments, figure the amount of each payment that is tax free by dividing your investment in the contract (adjusted for any refund feature) by the total number of periodic payments you expect to get under the contract.

  If the annuity is for a definite period, you determine the total number of payments by multiplying the number of payments to be made each year by the number of years you will receive payments. If the annuity is for life, you determine the total number of payments by using a multiple from the appropriate actuarial table.

Example.

Frank purchased a variable annuity at age 65. The total cost of the contract was $12,000. The annuity starting date is January 1 of the year of purchase. His annuity will be paid, starting July 1, in variable annual installments for his life. The tax-free amount of each payment, until he has recovered his cost of his contract, is:

Investment in the contract $12,000
Number of expected annual payments (multiple for age 65 from Table V) 20
Tax-free amount of each payment ($12,000 ÷ 20) $600

If Frank's first payment is $920, he includes only $320 ($920 − $600) in his gross income.

  If the tax-free amount for a year is more than the payments you receive in that year, you may choose, when you receive the next payment, to refigure the tax-free part. Divide the amount of the periodic tax-free part that is more than the payment you received by the remaining number of payments you expect. The result is added to the previously figured periodic tax-free part. The sum is the amount of each future payment that will be tax free.

Example.

Using the facts of the previous example about Frank, assume that after Frank's $920 payment, he received $500 in the following year, and $1,200 in the year after that. Frank does not pay tax on the $500 (second year) payment because $600 of each annual pension payment is tax free. Since the $500 payment is less than the $600 annual tax-free amount, he may choose to refigure his tax-free part when he receives his $1,200 (third year) payment, as follows:

Amount tax free in second year $600.00
Amount received in second year 500.00
Difference $100.00
Number of remaining payments after the first 2 payments (age 67, from Table V) 18.4
Amount to be added to previously determined annual tax-free part ($100 ÷ 18.4) $5.43
Revised annual tax-free part for third and later years ($600 + $5.43) $605.43
Amount taxable in third year ($1,200 − $605.43) $594.57

If you choose to refigure your tax-free amount,   you must file a statement with your income tax return stating that you are refiguring the tax-free amount in accordance with the rules of section 1.72–4(d)(3) of the Income Tax Regulations. The statement must also show the following information:
  1. The annuity starting date and your age on that date.

  2. The first day of the first period for which you received an annuity payment in the current year.

  3. Your investment in the contract as originally figured.

  4. The total of all amounts received tax free under the annuity from the annuity starting date through the first day of the first period for which you received an annuity payment in the current tax year.

Exclusion Limits

Your annuity starting date determines the total amount of annuity income that you can exclude from income over the years.

Exclusion limited to net cost.   If your annuity starting date is after 1986, the total amount of annuity income that you can exclude over the years as a return of your cost cannot exceed your net cost (figured without any reduction for a refund feature). This is the unrecovered investment in the contract as of the annuity starting date.

  If your annuity starting date is after July 1, 1986, any unrecovered net cost at your (or last annuitant's) death is allowed as a miscellaneous itemized deduction on the final return of the decedent. This deduction is not subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit.

Example 1.

Your annuity starting date is after 1986. Your total cost is $12,500, and your net cost is $10,000, taking into account certain adjustments. There is no refund feature. Your monthly annuity payment is $833.33. Your exclusion ratio is 12% and you exclude $100 a month. Your exclusion ends after 100 months, when you have excluded your net cost of $10,000. Thereafter, your annuity payments are fully taxable.

Example 2.

The facts are the same as in Example 1, except that there is a refund feature, and you die after 5 years with no surviving annuitant. The adjustment for the refund feature is $1,000, so the investment in the contract is $9,000. The exclusion ratio is 10.8%, and your monthly exclusion is $90. After 5 years (60 months), you have recovered tax free only $5,400 ($90 x 60). An itemized deduction for the unrecovered net cost of $4,600 ($10,000 net cost minus $5,400) may be taken on your final income tax return. Your unrecovered investment is determined without regard to the refund feature adjustment, discussed earlier, under Adjustments.

Exclusion not limited to net cost.   If your annuity starting date was before 1987, you could continue to take your monthly exclusion for as long as you receive your annuity. If you choose a joint and survivor annuity, your survivor continues to take the survivor's exclusion figured as of the annuity starting date. The total exclusion may be more than your investment in the contract.

How To Use Actuarial Tables

In figuring, under the General Rule, the taxable part of your annuity payments that you are to get for the rest of your life (rather than for a fixed number of years), you must use one or more of the actuarial tables in this publication.

Unisex Annuity Tables

Effective July 1, 1986, the Internal Revenue Service adopted new annuity Tables V through VIII, in which your sex is not considered when determining the applicable factor. These tables correspond to the old Tables I through IV. In general, Tables V through VIII must be used if you made contributions to the retirement plan after June 30, 1986. If you made no contributions to the plan after June 30, 1986, generally you must use only Tables I through IV. However, if you received an annuity payment after June 30, 1986, you may elect to use Tables V through VIII (see Annuity received after June 30, 1986, later).

Special Elections

Although you generally must use Tables V through VIII if you made contributions to the retirement plan after June 30, 1986, and Tables I through IV if you made no contributions after June 30, 1986, you can make the following special elections to select which tables to use.

Contributions made both before July 1986 and after June 1986.   If you made contributions to the retirement plan both before July 1986 and after June 1986, you may elect to use Tables I through IV for the pre-July 1986 cost of the contract, and Tables V through VIII for the post-June 1986 cost. (See the examples below.)

   Making the election. Attach this statement to your income tax return for the first year in which you receive an annuity:

   “I elect to apply the provisions of paragraph (d) of section 1.72–6 of the Income Tax Regulations.

  The statement must also include your name, address, social security number, and the amount of the pre-July 1986 investment in the contract.

  If your investment in the contract includes post-June 1986 contributions to the plan, and you do not make the election to use Tables I through IV and Tables V through VIII, then you can only use Tables V through VIII in figuring the taxable part of your annuity. You must also use Tables V through VIII if you are unable or do not wish to determine the portions of your contributions which were made before July 1, 1986, and after June 30, 1986.

   Advantages of election. In general, a lesser amount of each annual annuity payment is taxable if you separately figure your exclusion ratio for pre-July 1986 and post-June 1986 contributions.

  
If you intend to make this election, save your records that substantiate your pre-July 1986 and post-June 1986 contributions. If the death benefit exclusion applies (see discussion, earlier), you do not have to apportion it between the pre-July 1986 and the post-June 1986 investment in the contract.

  The following examples illustrate the separate computations required if you elect to use Tables I through IV for your pre-July 1986 investment in the contract and Tables V through VIII for your post-June 1986 investment in the contract.

Example 1.

Bill, who is single, contributed $42,000 to the retirement plan and will receive an annual annuity of $24,000 for life. Payment of the $42,000 contribution is guaranteed under a refund feature. Bill is 55 years old as of the annuity starting date. For figuring the taxable part of Bill's annuity, he chose to make separate computations for his pre-July 1986 investment in the contract of $41,300, and for his post-June 1986 investment in the contract of $700.

      Pre- 
July 1986
  Post- 
June 1986
A. Adjustment for refund feature      
  1) Net cost $41,300   $700
  2) Annual annuity—$24,000  
($41,300/$42,000 × $24,000)
$23,600    
  ($700/$42,000 × $24,000)     $400
  3) Guarantee under contract $41,300   $700
  4) No. of years payments  
guaranteed (rounded), A(3) ÷ A(2)
2   2
  5) Applicable percentage from  
Tables III and VII
1%   0%
  6) Adjustment for value of refund  
feature, A(5) × smaller of A(1)  
or A(3)
$413   $0
B. Investment in the contract      
  1) Net cost $41,300   $700
  2) Minus: Amount in A(6) 413   0
  3) Investment in the contract $40,887   $700
C. Expected return      
  1) Annual annuity receivable $24,000   $24,000
  2) Multiples from Tables I and V 21.7   28.6
  3) Expected return, C(1) × C(2) $520,800   $686,400
D. Tax-free part of annuity      
  1) Exclusion ratio as decimal,  
B(3) ÷ C(3)
.079   .001
  2) Tax-free part, C(1) × D(1) $1,896   $24

The tax-free part of Bill's total annuity is $1,920 ($1,896 plus $24). The taxable part of his annuity is $22,080 ($24,000 minus $1,920). If the annuity starting date is after 1986, the exclusion over the years cannot exceed the net cost (figured without any reduction for a refund feature).

Example 2.

Al is age 62 at his nearest birthday to the annuity starting date. Al's wife is age 60 at her nearest birthday to the annuity starting date. The joint and survivor annuity pays $1,000 per month to Al for life, and $500 per month to Al's surviving wife after his death. The pre-July 1986 investment in the contract is $53,100 and the post-June 1986 investment in the contract is $7,000. Al makes the election described in Example 1 .

For purposes of this example, assume the refund feature adjustment is zero. If an adjustment is required, IRS will figure the amount. See Requesting a Ruling on Taxation of Annuity near the end of this publication.

      Pre-  
July 1986
  Post-  
June 1986
A. Adjustment for refund feature      
  1) Net cost $53,100   $7,000
  2) Annual annuity—$12,000  
($53,100/$60,100 × $12,000)
$10,602    
  ($7,000/$60,100 × $12,000)     $1,398
  3) Guaranteed under the contract $53,100   $7,000
  4) Number of years guaranteed,  
rounded, A(3) ÷ A(2)
5   5
  5) Applicable percentages 0%   0%
  6) Refund feature adjustment, A(5) × smaller of A(1) or A(3) 0   0
B. Investment in the contract      
  1) Net cost $53,100   $7,000
  2) Refund feature adjustment 0   0
  3) Investment in the contract adjusted for refund feature $53,100   $7,000
C. Expected return      
  1) Multiple for both annuitants from Tables II and VI 25.4   28.8
  2) Multiple for first annuitant from Tables I and V 16.9   22.5
  3) Multiple applicable to surviving annuitant, subtract C(2) from C(1) 8.5   6.3
  4) Annual annuity to surviving annuitant $6,000   $6,000
  5) Portion of expected return for surviving annuitant, C(4) × C(3) $51,000   $37,800
  6) Annual annuity to first annuitant $12,000   $12,000
  7) Plus: Portion of expected return for first annuitant, C(6) × C(2) $202,800   $270,000
  8) Expected return for both annuitants, C(5) + C(7) $253,800   $307,800
D. Tax-free part of annuity      
  1) Exclusion ratio as a decimal, B(3) ÷ C(8) .209   .023
  2) Retiree's tax-free part of annuity, C(6) × D(1) $2,508   $276
  3) Survivor's tax-free part of annuity, C(4) × D(1) $1,254   $138

The tax-free part of Al's total annuity is $2,784 ($2,508 + $276). The taxable part of his annuity is $9,216 ($12,000 − $2,784). The exclusion over the years cannot exceed the net cost of the contract (figured without any reduction for a refund feature) if the annuity starting date is after 1986.

After Al's death, his widow will apply the same exclusion percentages (20.9% and 2.3%) to her annual annuity of $6,000 to figure the tax-free part of her annuity.

Annuity received after June 30, 1986.   If you receive an annuity payment after June 30, 1986, (regardless of your annuity starting date), you may elect to treat the entire cost of the contract as post-June 1986 cost (even if you made no post-June 1986 contributions to the plan) and use Tables V through VIII. Once made, you cannot revoke the election, which will apply to all payments during the year and in any later year.

   Make the election by attaching the following statement to your income tax return.

   “I elect, under section 1.72–9 of the Income Tax Regulations, to treat my entire cost of the contract as a post-June 1986 cost of the plan.

  The statement must also include your name, address, and social security number.

  You should also indicate you are making this election if you are unable or do not wish to determine the parts of your contributions which were made before July 1, 1986, and after June 30, 1986.

Disqualifying form of payment or settlement.   If your annuity starting date is after June 30, 1986, and the contract provides for a disqualifying form of payment or settlement, such as an option to receive a lump sum in full discharge of the obligation under the contract, the entire investment in the contract is treated as post-June 1986 investment in the contract. See regulations section 1.72–6(d)(3) for additional examples of disqualifying forms of payment or settlement. You can find the Income Tax Regulations in many libraries and at Internal Revenue Service Offices.

Worksheets for Determining Taxable Annuity

Worksheets I and II.   Worksheets I and II follow for determining your taxable annuity under Regulations Section 1.72–6(d)(6) Election.

Worksheet I For Determining Taxable Annuity Under Regulations Section 1.72-6(d)(6) Election For Single Annuitant With No Survivor Annuity

              Pre-July 1986   Post-June 1986
A.   Refund Feature Adjustment        
    1)   Net cost (total cost less returned premiums, dividends, etc.)        
    2)   Annual annuity allocation:        
          Portion of net cost in A(1) x annual annuity        
          Net cost        
    3)   Guaranteed under the contract        
    4)   Number of years guaranteed, rounded to whole years:        
          A(3) divided by A(2)        
    5)   Applicable percentages* from Tables III and VII        
          *If your annuity meets the three conditions listed in Zero value of refund feature in Investment in the Contract, earlier, both percentages are 0. If not, the IRS will calculate the refund feature percentage.        
    6)   Refund feature adjustment:        
          A(5) times lesser of A(1) or A(3)        
                   
B.   Investment in the Contract        
    1)   Net cost:        
          A(1)        
    2)   Refund feature adjustment:        
          A(6)        
    3)   Investment in the contract adjusted for refund feature:        
          B(1) minus B(2)        
                   
C.   Expected Return        
    1)   Annual Annuity:        
          12 times monthly annuity**        
    2)   Expected return multiples from Tables I and V        
    3)     Expected return:        
          C(1) times C(2)        
                   
D.   Tax-Free Part of Annuity        
    1)     Exclusion ratio, as a decimal rounded to 3 places:        
          B(3) divided by C(3)        
    2)     Tax-free part of annuity:        
          C(1) times D(1)        
    **If the annuity is not paid monthly, figure the amount to enter by using the total number of periodic payments for the year times the amount of the periodic payment.    

Worksheet II For Determining Taxable Annuity Under Regulations Section 1.72-6(d)(6) Election For Joint and Survivor Annuity

              Pre-July 1986   Post-June 1986
A.   Refund Feature Adjustment        
    1)   Net cost (total cost less returned premiums, dividends, etc.)        
    2)   Annual annuity allocation:        
          Portion of net cost in A(1) x annual annuity        
          Net cost        
    3)   Guaranteed under the contract        
    4)     Number of years guaranteed, rounded to whole years:        
          A(3) divided by A(2)        
    5)   Applicable percentages*        
          *If your annuity meets the three conditions listed in Zero value of refund feature in Investment in the Contract, earlier, both percentages are 0. If not, the IRS will calculate the refund feature percentage.        
    6)   Refund feature adjustment:        
          A(5) times lesser of A(1) or A(3)        
                   
B.   Investment in the Contract        
    1)   Net cost:        
          A(1)        
    2)   Refund feature adjustment:        
          A(6)        
    3)   Investment in the contract adjusted for refund future:        
          B(1) minus B(2)        
                   
C.   Expected Return        
    1)   Multiples for both annuitants, Tables II and VI        
    2)   Multiple for retiree. Tables I and VI        
    3)   Multiple for survivor:        
          C(1) minus C(2)        
    4)   Annual annuity to survivor:        
          12 times potential monthly rate for survivor**        
    5)   Expected return for survivor:        
          C(3) times C(4)        
    6)   Annual annuity to retiree:        
          12 times monthly rate for retiree**        
    7)   Expected return for retiree:        
          C(2) times C(6)        
    8)   Total expected return:        
          C(5) plus C(7)        
                   
D.   Tax-Free Part of Annuity        
    1)   Exclusion ratio, as a decimal rounded to 3 places:        
          B(3) divided by C(8)        
    2)   Retiree's tax-free part of annuity:        
          C(6) times D(1)        
    3)   Survivor's tax-free part of annuity, if surviving after death of retiree:        
          C(4) times D(1)        
    **If the annuity is not paid monthly, figure the amount to enter by using the total number of periodic payments for the year times the amount of the periodic payment.  

Actuarial Tables

Requesting a Ruling on Taxation of Annuity

If you are a retiree, or the survivor of an employee or retiree, you may ask the Internal Revenue Service to help you determine the taxation of your annuity. If you make this request, you are asking for a ruling.

User fee.   Under the law in effect at the time this publication went to print, the IRS must charge a user fee for all ruling requests. You should call the IRS for the proper fee.

A request solely for the value of the refund feature is not treated as a ruling request and requires no fee.

Send your request to: 
 
 

 
Internal Revenue Service  
Attention: EP Letter Rulings 
P. O. Box 27063 
McPherson Station 
Washington, DC 20038

The user fee is allowed as a miscellaneous itemized deduction, subject to the 2%-of-adjusted-gross-income limit.

When to make the request.   Please note that requests sent between February 1 and April 15 may experience some delay. We process requests in the order received, and we will reply to your request as soon as we can process it. If you do not receive your ruling by the required filing date, you may use Form 4868, Application for Automatic Extension of Time To File U.S. Individual Income Tax Return, to get an extension of time to file.

Information you must furnish.   You must furnish the information listed below so the IRS can comply with your request. Failure to furnish the information will result in a delay in processing your request. Please send only copies of the following documents, as the IRS retains all material sent for its records:
  1. A letter explaining the question(s) you wish to have resolved or the information you need from the ruling.

  2. Copies of any documents showing distributions, annuity rates, and annuity options available to you.

  3. A copy of any Form 1099–R you received since your annuity began.

  4. A statement indicating whether you have filed your return for the year for which you are making the request. If you have requested an extension of time to file that return, please indicate the extension date.

  5. Your daytime phone number.

  6. Your current mailing address.

  7. A power of attorney if someone other than you, an attorney, a certified public accountant, or an enrolled agent is signing this request. Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative, may be used for this purpose.

  8. A completed Tax Information Sheet (or facsimile) shown on the next page. Sign and date the Disclosure and Perjury Statement (or facsimile) at the end of the tax information sheet. This statement must be signed by the retiree or the survivor annuitant. It cannot be signed by a representative.

Tax Information Sheet

How To Get Tax Help

Whether it's help with a tax issue, preparing your tax return or a need for a free publication or form, get the help you need the way you want it: online, use a smart phone, call or walk in to an IRS office or volunteer site near you.

Free help with your tax return.   You can get free help preparing your return nationwide from IRS-certified volunteers. The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program helps low-to-moderate income, elderly, people with disabilities, and limited English proficient taxpayers. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program helps taxpayers age 60 and older with their tax returns. Most VITA and TCE sites offer free electronic filing and all volunteers will let you know about credits and deductions you may be entitled to claim. In addition, some VITA and TCE sites provide taxpayers the opportunity to prepare their own return with help from an IRS-certified volunteer. To find the nearest VITA or TCE site, you can use the VITA Locator Tool on IRS.gov, download the IRS2Go app, or call 1-800-906-9887.

  As part of the TCE program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program. To find the nearest AARP Tax-Aide site, visit AARP's website at www.aarp.org/money/taxaide or call 1-888-227-7669. For more information on these programs, go to IRS.gov and enter “VITA” in the search box.

Internet.    IRS.gov and IRS2Go are ready when you are —24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
  • Download the free IRS2Go app from the iTunes app store or from Google Play. Use it to check your refund status, order transcripts of your tax returns or tax account, watch the IRS YouTube channel, get IRS news as soon as it's released to the public, subscribe to filing season updates or daily tax tips, and follow the IRS Twitter news feed, @IRSnews, to get the latest federal tax news, including information about tax law changes and important IRS programs.

  • Check the status of your 2013 refund with the Where's My Refund? application on IRS.gov or download the IRS2Go app and select the Refund Status option. The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Using these applications, you can start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after we receive your e-filed return or 4 weeks after you mail a paper return. You will also be given a personalized refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund. The IRS updates Where's My Refund? every 24 hours, usually overnight, so you only need to check once a day.

  • Use the Interactive Tax Assistant (ITA) to research your tax questions. No need to wait on the phone or stand in line. The ITA is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and provides you with a variety of tax information related to general filing topics, deductions, credits, and income. When you reach the response screen, you can print the entire interview and the final response for your records. New subject areas are added on a regular basis. 
    Answers not provided through ITA may be found in Tax Trails, one of the Tax Topics on IRS.gov which contain general individual and business tax information or by searching the IRS Tax Map, which includes an international subject index. You can use the IRS Tax Map, to search publications and instructions by topic or keyword. The IRS Tax Map integrates forms and publications into one research tool and provides single-point access to tax law information by subject. When the user searches the IRS Tax Map, they will be provided with links to related content in existing IRS publications, forms and instructions, questions and answers, and Tax Topics.

  • Coming this filing season, you can immediately view and print for free all 5 types of individual federal tax transcripts (tax returns, tax account, record of account, wage and income statement, and certification of non-filing) using Get Transcript. You can also ask the IRS to mail a return or an account transcript to you. Only the mail option is available by choosing the Tax Records option on the IRS2Go app by selecting Mail Transcript on IRS.gov or by calling 1-800-908-9946. Tax return and tax account transcripts are generally available for the current year and the past three years.

  • Determine if you are eligible for the EITC and estimate the amount of the credit with the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) Assistant.

  • Visit Understanding Your IRS Notice or Letter to get answers to questions about a notice or letter you received from the IRS.

  • If you received the First Time Homebuyer Credit, you can use the First Time Homebuyer Credit Account Look-up tool for information on your repayments and account balance.

  • Check the status of your amended return using Where's My Amended Return? Go to IRS.gov and enter Where's My Amended Return? in the search box. You can generally expect your amended return to be processed up to 12 weeks from the date we receive it. It can take up to 3 weeks from the date you mailed it to show up in our system.

  • Make a payment using one of several safe and convenient electronic payment options available on IRS.gov. Select the Payment tab on the front page of IRS.gov for more information.

  • Determine if you are eligible and apply for an online payment agreement, if you owe more tax than you can pay today.

  • Figure your income tax withholding with the IRS Withholding Calculator on IRS.gov. Use it if you've had too much or too little withheld, your personal situation has changed, you're starting a new job or you just want to see if you're having the right amount withheld.

  • Determine if you might be subject to the Alternative Minimum Tax by using the Alternative Minimum Tax Assistant on IRS.gov.

  • Request an Electronic Filing PIN by going to IRS.gov and entering Electronic Filing PIN in the search box.

  • Download forms, instructions and publications, including accessible versions for people with disabilities.

  • Locate the nearest Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC) using the Office Locator tool on IRS.gov, or choose the Contact Us option on the IRS2Go app and search Local Offices. An employee can answer questions about your tax account or help you set up a payment plan. Before you visit, check the Office Locator on IRS.gov, or Local Offices under Contact Us on IRS2Go to confirm the address, phone number, days and hours of operation, and the services provided. If you have a special need, such as a disability, you can request an appointment. Call the local number listed in the Office Locator, or look in the phone book under United States Government, Internal Revenue Service.

  • Apply for an Employer Identification Number (EIN). Go to IRS.gov and enter Apply for an EIN in the search box.

  • Read the Internal Revenue Code, regulations, or other official guidance.

  • Read Internal Revenue Bulletins.

  • Sign up to receive local and national tax news and more by email. Just click on “subscriptions” above the search box on IRS.gov and choose from a variety of options.

   Phone. You can call the IRS, or you can carry it in your pocket with the IRS2Go app on your smart phone or tablet. Download the free IRS2Go app from the iTunes app store or from Google Play.
  • Call to locate the nearest volunteer help site, 1-800-906-9887 or you can use the VITA Locator Tool on IRS.gov, or download the IRS2Go app. Low-to-moderate income, elderly, people with disabilities, and limited English proficient taxpayers can get free help with their tax return from the nationwide Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program. The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program helps taxpayers age 60 and older with their tax returns. Most VITA and TCE sites offer free electronic filing. Some VITA and TCE sites provide IRS-certified volunteers who can help prepare your tax return. Through the TCE program, AARP offers the Tax-Aide counseling program; call 1-888-227-7669 to find the nearest Tax-Aide location.

  • Call the automated Where's My Refund? information hotline to check the status of your 2013 refund 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-829-1954. If you e-file, you can start checking on the status of your return within 24 hours after the IRS receives your tax return or 4 weeks after you've mailed a paper return. The IRS issues more than 9 out of 10 refunds in less than 21 days. Where's My Refund? will give you a personalized refund date as soon as the IRS processes your tax return and approves your refund. Before you call this automated hotline, have your 2013 tax return handy so you can enter your social security number, your filing status, and the exact whole dollar amount of your refund. The IRS updates Where's My Refund? every 24 hours, usually overnight, so you only need to check once a day. Note, the above information is for our automated hotline. Our live phone and walk-in assistors can research the status of your refund only if it's been 21 days or more since you filed electronically or more than 6 weeks since you mailed your paper return.

  • Call the Amended Return Hotline, 1-866-464-2050, to check the status of your amended return. You can generally expect your amended return to be processed up to 12 weeks from the date we receive it. It can take up to 3 weeks from the date you mailed it to show up in our system.

  • Call 1-800-TAX-FORM (1-800-829-3676) to order current-year forms, instructions, publications, and prior-year forms and instructions (limited to 5 years). You should receive your order within 10 business days.

  • Call TeleTax, 1-800-829-4477, to listen to pre-recorded messages covering general and business tax information. If, between January and April 15, you still have questions about the Form 1040, 1040A, or 1040EZ (like filing requirements, dependents, credits, Schedule D, pensions and IRAs or self-employment taxes), call 1-800-829-1040.

  • Call using TTY/TDD equipment, 1-800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or order forms and publications. The TTY/TDD telephone number is for people who are deaf, hard of hearing, or have a speech disability. These individuals can also contact the IRS through relay services such as the Federal Relay Service.

   Walk-in. You can find a selection of forms, publications and services — in-person.
  • Products. You can walk in to some post offices, libraries, and IRS offices to pick up certain forms, instructions, and publications. Some IRS offices, libraries, and city and county government offices have a collection of products available to photocopy from reproducible proofs.

  • Services. You can walk in to your local TAC for face-to-face tax help. An employee can answer questions about your tax account or help you set up a payment plan. Before visiting, use the Office Locator tool on IRS.gov, or choose the Contact Us option on the IRS2Go app and search Local Offices for days and hours of operation, and services provided.

   Mail. You can send your order for forms, instructions, and publications to the address below. You should receive a response within 10 business days after your request is received.

Internal Revenue Service 
1201 N. Mitsubishi Motorway 
Bloomington, IL 61705-6613

 
 
The Taxpayer Advocate Service Is Here to Help You. The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is your voice at the IRS. Our job is to ensure that every taxpayer is treated fairly and that you know and understand your rights.  
 
What can TAS do for you? We can offer you free help with IRS problems that you can't resolve on your own. We know this process can be confusing, but the worst thing you can do is nothing at all! TAS can help if you can't resolve your tax problem and:
  • Your problem is causing financial difficulties for you, your family, or your business.

  • You face (or your business is facing) an immediate threat of adverse action.

  • You've tried repeatedly to contact the IRS but no one has responded, or the IRS hasn't responded by the date promised.

 
 
If you qualify for our help, you'll be assigned to one advocate who'll be with you at every turn and will do everything possible to resolve your problem. Here's why we can help:
  • TAS is an independent organization within the IRS.

  • Our advocates know how to work with the IRS.

  • Our services are free and tailored to meet your needs.

  • We have offices in every state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.

 
 
How can you reach us? If you think TAS can help you, call your local advocate, whose number is in your local directory and at Taxpayer Advocate, or call us toll-free at 1-877-777-4778. 
 
How else does TAS help taxpayers? 
 
TAS also works to resolve large-scale, systemic problems that affect many taxpayers. If you know of one of these broad issues, please report it to us through our Systemic Advocacy Management System.

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics

Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) serve individuals whose income is below a certain level and need to resolve tax problems such as audits, appeals and tax collection disputes. Some clinics can provide information about taxpayer rights and responsibilities in different languages for individuals who speak English as a second language. Visit Taxpayer Advocate or see IRS Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List.


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