Many Types of Free Tax Help Available From the IRS
FS-2011-04, January 2011
The Internal Revenue Service offers taxpayers free help on federal tax questions and with filing a return. Assistance is available at any time on IRS.gov. Help is also available by telephone and in person.
When seeking help online, the IRS cautions taxpayers to ensure they go to the authentic IRS website by typing www.IRS.gov into their browser. The official site does not end in .com, .net, .org or any designation other than .gov. From the official IRS website, just click on "Español" for content in Spanish.
Taxpayers should check out 1040 Central for all the updates and information needed to prepare and file their 2010 returns, or to access forms and instructions.
The Online Services section gives taxpayers access to handy applications, such as the following:
- Free File, a program available exclusively at IRS.gov in English and Spanish, offers brand-name tax software or online fillable forms. Everyone can find an option to prepare and e-file their tax returns for free. Taxpayers who earned $58,000 or less qualify for free software through a private-public partnership with manufacturers. Taxpayers who earned more or who are comfortable preparing their returns can use Free File Fillable Forms, the electronic versions of IRS paper forms.
- Find an Authorized e-file Provider helps individual taxpayers find someone who can electronically file their tax return.
- EITC Assistant, available in English and Spanish, helps taxpayers find out if they are eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit.
- Interactive Tax Assistant guides taxpayers through a series of questions and provides responses on credits, deductions and general filing questions.
- Electronic Federal Tax Payment System enables taxpayers to pay their tax online.
- Online Payment Agreement for taxpayers who cannot pay their tax completely by April 18, 2011.
- IRS Withholding Calculator helps taxpayers make sure the amount of income tax they have withheld from their pay isn’t too high or too low.
Taxpayers may also check their 2010 refund online using “ Where's My Refund?” or its Spanish version, “¿Dónde está mi reembolso?” Those who e-file can check on the status of their refund 72 hours after receiving an acknowledgement of acceptance by the IRS. Paper filers can check about three or four weeks after a return is mailed.
Taxpayers will need to enter a Social Security number or Individual Taxpayer Identification Number, filing status and the exact whole dollar amount of the refund shown on their return. They will also receive instructions to resolve refund-related problems. “Where's My Refund?” is also available by calling 800-829-1954.
The IRS has several toll free lines that taxpayers can call for help in English and Spanish. Taxpayers may order current and prior year forms, instructions and publications by calling 800-829-3676. To find answers to tax questions, taxpayers may call 800-829-1040 for individual issues or 800-829-4933 for business issues. Taxpayers can also get information with little or no waiting by calling TeleTax at 800-829-4477 to hear pre-recorded messages covering various tax topics or check on the status of a refund.
TTY/TDD users may call 800-829-4059 to ask tax questions or order forms and publications (English only).
Volunteer Tax Preparers
Free tax preparation is available through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) sites in many communities. Taxpayers should check for the VITA site location closest to them by calling 800-906-9887. Taxpayers may also call the AARP Tax-Aide Program — IRS’s largest TCE partner — at 888-227-7669 to find a convenient location.
Taxpayer Assistance Centers
IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers are available to taxpayers who believe their personal tax issues cannot be handled online or by phone, and who need face-to-face assistance. IRS representatives can help with inquiries, adjustments, letters and notices and payment plans for those who owe taxes and cannot pay in full. Locations are posted by state on IRS.gov under the ”Individuals“ tab by clicking on the Contact My Local Office link. A message detailing operating hours and addresses is also available by calling the number in local phone directories.
All IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers provide help to non-English-speaking taxpayers through an interpreter service.
Tax Forms and Publications Walk-In Service
All the official tax forms and publications are available for free downloading 24/7 at www.IRS.gov.
Taxpayers can pick up some of the most-requested forms, instructions and publications at many IRS offices, post offices and libraries. Also, some grocery stores, copy centers, city and county offices and credit unions have reproducible tax form products available to photocopy. All IRS Taxpayer Assistance Centers have tax publications, forms and instructions for pick-up.
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics
Low Income Taxpayer Clinics (LITCs) are independent organizations that provide low income taxpayers with representation in federal tax controversies with the IRS for free or for a nominal charge. The clinics also provide tax education and outreach for taxpayers with limited English proficiency. Publication 4134, Low Income Taxpayer Clinic List, provides information on clinics.
Braille Tax Material
A variety of Braille materials can be downloaded from irs.gov. The print files are in .brf format and can be sent directly to an embosser for high quality Braille output. Braille materials are also available for order by calling the IRS at 800-829-3676. Braille materials may also be available at libraries that have special services for people with disabilities.
Taxpayer Advocate Service
The Taxpayer Advocate Service (TAS) is an independent organization within the IRS that assists taxpayers who are experiencing economic harm and seek help in resolving tax problems that have not been solved through normal channels. Taxpayers eligible for TAS assistance can call the toll-free line 877-777-4778 or TTY/TTD 800-829-4059.
Taxpayers can access information that is issued by the IRS in various formats and easy to understand:
- IRS Tax Tips, which are brief, to-the-point messages released daily during the filing season and cover topics such as common errors and how to file for an extension.
- IRSvideos, available on YouTube, which provide information about credits, deductions and tax law changes. The IRS also has videos in American Sign Language (IRSvideosASL) and Spanish ( IRSvideosmultilingua).
- IRS audio files, informal tax messages in English and Spanish, to use for podcasts or to play on a portable music player. These are also available by subscription through iTunes.
- @IRSnews and @IRSenEspanol, the IRS Twitter news feeds, which provide the latest federal tax news and information for taxpayers in English and Spanish.