Top Frequently Asked Questions for IRS Procedures

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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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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How would I obtain a private letter ruling?

Answer:

The procedures and user fees for obtaining a letter ruling are published annually in the first revenue procedure of each calendar year; see Revenue Procedure 2018-1.

Send a request for a letter ruling, including the applicable user fee, pursuant to the instructions in Revenue Procedure 2018-1, section 7. See Revenue Procedure 2018-1, Appendix A, for a schedule of current user fees.

 

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My spouse passed away last year, and I want to file a joint return. How should I file, how should I sign, and are there any special notations required to indicate my spouse is deceased?

Answer:

  • Across the top of the return - above the area where you enter your address, write "Deceased," your spouse’s name, and the date of death.
  • When you're a surviving spouse filing a joint return and a personal representative hasn't been appointed, you should sign the return and write "filing as surviving spouse" in the signature area below your signature.
  • When you're a surviving spouse filing a joint return and a personal representative has been appointed, you and the personal representative should sign the return.
  • A decedent taxpayer's tax return can be filed electronically. Follow the specific directions provided by your preparation software for proper signature and notation requirements.

Note: You can't file a final joint return with your deceased spouse if you as the surviving spouse remarried before the end of the year of death. The filing status of the decedent in this instance is married filing separately.

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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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I am unable to pay my delinquent taxes. Will the IRS accept an offer in compromise?

Answer:

You may qualify for an offer in compromise (OIC) if you're unable to pay your taxes in full, or are facing economic hardship or other special circumstances. Refer to Tax Topic 204 - Offers in Compromise, for more information.

The following details the application process and the items you need for consideration of your application:

  • Complete the application using Form 656, Offer in Compromise.
  • You must include the nonrefundable application fee listed in Form 656 with your offer. If you're requesting a low-income exception to the fee, complete Section 1 of Form 656. See Step 6 on page 5 of the Form 656-B, for more information on the required initial payment and application fee.
  • See Steps 2 and 3 on page 5 of the Form 656-B to determine if you must include either:
    • A completed Form 433-A (OIC), Collection Information Statement for Wage Earners and Self-Employed Individuals, or
    • A completed Form 433-B (OIC), Collection Information Statement for Businesses.
  • Form 656 and referenced collection information statements are available in the Form 656-B, Offer in Compromise Booklet.

If your application is rejected and you're unable to pay your delinquent taxes in full now, you may be eligible for other payment options. Refer to Tax Topic 202 - Tax Payment Options, for more information.

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Will I be charged interest and penalties for filing and paying my taxes late?

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Yes, when you file your tax return late, you'll be charged interest on any unpaid balance and you may also be subject to failure to file and failure to pay penalties.

Interest accrues on the unpaid balance and compounds daily from the due date of the return (without regard to any extension of time to file) until you pay the balance in full.

  • The interest rate for taxpayers other than corporations is the federal short-term rate plus 3%.
  • The federal short-term rate is determined every three months.
  • For the current quarterly interest rate on underpayments, search "interest rates" in Newsroom Search or "quarter interest rates" on IRS.gov.

Failure to pay penalty is charged for failing to pay your tax by the due date.

  • The late payment penalty is 0.5% of the tax owed after the due date, for each month or part of a month the tax remains unpaid, up to 25%.
  • You won't have to pay the penalty if you can show reasonable cause for the failure to pay on time.
  • 10 days after the IRS issues a final notice of intent to levy or seize property, the 0.5% rate increases to 1% per month.
  • The penalty rate is 0.25% for each month or part of a month in which an installment agreement is in effect.

Failure to file penalty is charged on returns filed after the due date or extended due date, absent a reasonable cause for filing late.

  • The failure to file penalty is 5% of the unpaid taxes for each month or part of a month that a tax return is late. The penalty won't exceed 25% of your unpaid taxes.
  • If both a failure to file and a failure to pay penalty are applicable in the same month, the combined penalty is 5% (4.5% late filing and 0.5% late payment) for each month or part of a month that your return was late, up to 25%.
  • The late filing penalty applies to the tax that remains unpaid after the due date. Unpaid tax is the total tax shown on your return reduced by amounts paid through withholding, estimated tax payments, and allowed refundable credits.
  • If after five months you still haven't paid, the failure to file penalty will max out, but the failure to pay penalty continues until the tax is paid, up to 25%.
  • The maximum total penalty for failure to file and pay is 47.5% (22.5% late filing and 25% late payment) of the tax.
  • However, if your return was over 60 days late, the minimum failure to file penalty is the smaller of $210 or 100% of the tax required to be shown on the return.

Note: If you feel a penalty or interest has been assessed in error, you may request abatement. Refer to Publication 1, Your Rights as a Taxpayer.

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I lost my refund check. How do I get a new one?

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If you lost your refund check, you should initiate a refund trace:

  • Call us at 800-829-1954 (toll-free) and either use the automated system or speak with an agent.

  • However, if you filed a married filing jointly return, you can’t initiate a trace using the automated systems. Download and complete the Form 3911, Taxpayer Statement Regarding Refund, or the IRS can issue you a Form 3911 to get the replacement process started.

Your claim for a missing refund is processed one of two ways:

  • If the check wasn't cashed, you'll receive a replacement check once the original check is canceled.
  • If the refund check was cashed, the Bureau of the Fiscal Service (BFS) will provide you with a claim package that includes a copy of the cashed check. Follow the instructions for completing the claim package. BFS will review your claim and the signature on the canceled check before determining whether they can issue you a replacement check. The BFS review can take up to six weeks to complete.

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What is a split refund?

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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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I received an incorrect Form W-2. My former employer won’t issue me a corrected Form W-2. What should I do?

Answer:

If by the end of February, your attempts to have the Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, corrected by your employer are unsuccessful, you can request that an IRS representative initiate a Form W-2 complaint. Call the IRS toll free at 800-829-1040 or make an appointment to visit an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center (TAC). 

  • The IRS will send your employer a letter requesting that they furnish you a corrected Form W-2 within ten days. The letter advises your employer of their responsibilities to provide a correct Form W-2 and of the penalties for failure to do so.
  • The IRS will send you a letter with instructions and Form 4852, Substitute for Form W-2, Wage and Tax Statement, or Form 1099-R, Distributions from Pensions, Annuities, Retirement or Profit-Sharing Plans, IRAs, Insurance Contracts, etc. You can use the Form 4852 in the event that your employer doesn't provide you with the corrected Form W-2 in time to file your tax return.

Depending on the time of year, the IRS may have federal wage information in the form of a wage transcript. See Topic 159 for more information on how to get a transcript of W-2 information.

When you call the IRS or visit a TAC office, please have the following information available:

  • Your employer's or payer's name and complete address including ZIP code, employer identification number if known (see your prior year's Form W-2 if you worked for the same employer), phone number, and
  • Your name, address including ZIP code, social security number, phone number, and dates of employment.

If you file your return and attach Form 4852, you’ll need to estimate the wages you earned, taxes withheld, and the period you worked for that employer. You should base the estimate on year-to-date information from your final pay stub, if possible. When filing a Form 4852 instead of a Form W-2, there may be delays processing your refund while we verify the information you gave us.

To help protect your social security benefits, keep a copy of Form 4852 until you begin receiving social security benefits, just in case there's a question about your work record and/or earnings in a particular year. After September 30 following the date shown on line 4, use a my Social Security online account or contact your local SSA office to verify wages reported by your employer.

If you receive a corrected Form W-2 after you filed your return with Form 4852, and the information differs from the information reported on your return, you must amend your return by filing Form 1040X, Amended U.S. Individual Income Tax Return.

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As a full-time student, am I exempt from federal income taxes?

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Your status as a full-time student doesn't exempt you from federal income taxes. If you're a U.S. citizen or U.S. resident, the factors that determine whether you owe federal income taxes or must file a federal income tax return include:

  • The amount of your earned and unearned income
  • Whether you can be claimed as a dependent on another person’s tax return
  • Your filing status, and
  • Your age

If your income is below the amount of the filing requirement for your age, filing status, and dependency status, and no other filing requirements apply, you don't owe federal taxes on your income and you don't have to file a federal income tax return. Even if you're not required to file an income tax return, you may choose to file a return if you're entitled to a refund of withheld income tax or estimated tax, or you're eligible for a refundable credit. For more information on filing requirements, refer to Do I Need to File a Tax Return? and Publication 501, Exemptions, Standard Deduction and Filing Information.

See Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, and Can You Claim Exemption from Withholding on Form W-4? to determine if you may claim exemption from income tax withholding. Consider completing a new Form W-4 each year and when your personal or financial situation changes.

For related topics, see Tax Information for Students.

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Frequently Asked Question Subcategories for IRS Procedures