Top Frequently Asked Questions

How do I notify the IRS my address has changed?

Answer:

There are several ways to tell us your address has changed:

Methods to Change Your Address
Method Action
IRS form Use Form 8822, Change of Address or Form 8822-B, Change of Address or Responsible Party - Business
Tax return Use your new address when you file
Written statement

Send us a signed written statement with your:

  • full name
  • old address
  • new address
  • social security number, ITIN, or EIN


Mail your signed statement to the address where you filed your last return.

Oral notification

Tell us in person or by telephone. We'll need you to verify your identity and the address we have on file for you. Please have ready:

  • your full name
  • your address
  • your date of birth
  • your social security number, ITIN or EIN

If you filed a joint return, and are still residing with your spouse, both you and your spouse should sign the form or statement.

If you filed a joint return and you now have separate addresses, each of you should notify us of your new, separate address.

Authorized representatives filing a form or written statement to change an address for a taxpayer must attach a copy of their power of attorney or Form 2848, Power of Attorney and Declaration of Representative. Unauthorized third parties can't change a taxpayer's address.

Changes of address through the U.S. Postal Service (USPS) may update your address of record on file with us based on what they retain in their National Change of Address (NCOA) database. However, even when you notify the USPS, not all post offices forward government checks, so you should still notify us.

For changes of address relating to an employment tax return, we issue confirmation notices (Notices 148A and 148B) for the change to both the new and former address.

It can take four to six weeks for a change of address request to fully process.

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Is there an age limit on claiming my child as a dependent?

Answer:

To claim your child as your dependent, your child must meet either the qualifying child test or the qualifying relative test:

  • To meet the qualifying child test, your child must be younger than you and either younger than 19 years old or be a "student" younger than 24 years old as of the end of the calendar year.
  • There's no age limit if your child is "permanently and totally disabled" or meets the qualifying relative test.

In addition to meeting the qualifying child or qualifying relative test, your child must also meet all of the other tests for claiming a dependent:

  1. Dependent taxpayer test
  2. Citizen or resident test, and
  3. Joint return test
How much income can an unmarried dependent student make before he or she must file an income tax return?

Answer:

An unmarried dependent student must file a tax return if his or her earned or unearned income exceeds certain limits. To find these limits, refer to Dependents under Who Must File, in  Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction, and Filing Information.

Even if you don't have to file a federal income tax return, you should file if you can get money back (for example, you had federal income tax withheld from your pay or you qualify for a refundable tax credit). See Who Should File in Publication 501, for more examples.

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If I claim my daughter who is a full-time college student as a dependent, may she claim a personal exemption when she files her return?

Answer:

If you may claim an exemption for your daughter as a dependent on your income tax return, she may not claim a personal exemption on her income tax return. Your daughter should check the box on her return indicating that someone else may claim her as a dependent.

Can I receive a tax refund if I am currently making payments under an installment agreement or payment plan for another federal tax period?

Answer:

No, one of the conditions of your installment agreement is that any refund due to you, the IRS will automatically apply against taxes you owe. Because your refund isn't applied toward your regular monthly payment, continue making your installment agreement payments as scheduled. 

If your refund exceeds your total balance due on all outstanding liabilities including accruals, and you don't owe certain past-due amounts, such as federal tax, state tax, a student loan, or child support, you'll receive a refund of the amount over and above what you owe. For more information on these non-IRS refund offsets, you can call the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) at 800-304-3107 (toll-free).

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To qualify for head of household filing status, do I have to claim my child as a dependent?

Answer:

Generally, to qualify for head of household, you must have a qualifying child or dependent. However, a custodial  parent may be able to claim head of household filing status with a qualifying child even if he or she released a claim to exemption for the child. See Noncustodial parent is claiming an exemption for my child; do I still qualify as head of household?

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What should I do if I made a mistake on my federal return that I've already filed?

Answer:

It depends on the type of mistake you made:

  • Many mathematical errors are caught during the processing of the tax return and corrected by the IRS, so you may not need to correct these mistakes.
  • If you didn't claim the correct filing status or you need to change your income, deductions, or credits, you should file an amended or corrected return using Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

When filing an amended or corrected return:

  • Include copies of any forms and/or schedules that you're changing or didn't include with your original return. To avoid delays, file Form 1040X only after you've filed your original return. Generally, for a credit or refund, you must file Form 1040X within 3 years after the date you timely filed your original return or within 2 years after the date you paid the tax, whichever is later.
  • Allow the IRS up to 16 weeks to process the amended return.

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What is a split refund?

Answer:

A split refund lets you divide your refund, in any proportion you want, and direct deposit the funds into up to three different accounts with U.S. financial institutions. Use Form 8888, Allocation of Refund (Including Savings Bond Purchases), to request to have your refund split or to use part or all of your refund to buy up to $5,000 in paper or electronic U.S. Series I Savings Bonds for yourself or someone else.

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How do I know if I have to file quarterly individual estimated tax payments?

Answer:

You must make estimated tax payments for the current tax year if both of the following apply:

  • You expect to owe at least $1,000 in tax for the current tax year after subtracting your withholding and refundable credits.
  • You expect your withholding and refundable credits to be less than the smaller of:
    • 90% of the tax to be shown on your current year’s tax return, or
    • 100% of the tax shown on your prior year’s tax return. (Your prior year tax return must cover all 12 months.)

There are special rules for:

  • Farmers and fishermen
  • Certain household employers
  • Certain higher income taxpayers
  • Nonresident aliens

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I retired last year, and started receiving social security payments. Do I have to pay taxes on my social security benefits?

Answer:

Social security benefits include monthly retirement, survivor and disability benefits. They don't include supplemental security income (SSI) payments, which aren't taxable. The net amount of social security benefits that you receive from the Social Security Administration is reported in Box 5 of Form SSA-1099, Social Security Benefit Statement, and you report that amount on your income tax return (Form 1040, line 20a or Form 1040A, Line 14a). The taxable portion of the benefits that's included in your income and used to calculate your income tax liability depends on the total amount of your income and benefits for the taxable year. You report the taxable portion of your social security benefits on Form 1040, line 20b or Form 1040A, line 14b.

To find out whether any of your benefits may be taxable, compare the base amount for your filing status with the total of:

  • One-half of your benefits; plus
  • All of your other income, including tax-exempt interest.

The base amount for your filing status is:

  • $25,000 if you're single, head of household, or qualifying widow(er),
  • $25,000 if you're married filing separately and lived apart from your spouse for the entire year,
  • $32,000 if you're married filing jointly,
  • $0 if you're married filing separately and lived with your spouse at any time during the tax year.

If you're married and file a joint return, you and your spouse must combine your incomes and social security benefits when figuring the taxable portion of your benefits. Even if your spouse didn't receive any benefits, you must add your spouse's income to yours when figuring on a joint return if any of your benefits are taxable.

You can figure the taxable amount of the benefits in Are My Social Security or Railroad Retirement Tier I Benefits Taxable?, on a worksheet in the Instructions for Form 1040, Instructions for Form 1040A, or in Publication 915, Social Security and Equivalent Railroad Retirement Benefits.

 

What are the tax changes for this year?

Answer:

For highlights of the tax changes for the current tax year, refer to the "What's New" section of the following:

Individuals - Instructions for Form 1040Instructions for Form 1040A, or Instructions for Form 1040EZ.

Businesses - Publication 15 (Circular E), Employer's Tax Guide, or the instructions of your current business tax forms. 

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