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IRS.gov's search engine will help you find the information you are looking for, quickly and easily. Use these tips to help you maximize the effectiveness of your search.
Basic Searching and Choosing Search Terms
- Search Box: You can find the search box on the upper right side of most pages on IRS.gov. To search for a document, type a few descriptive words in the search box, and press the Enter key or click the magnifying glass. A results page appears with a list of documents and web pages that are related to your search terms, with the most relevant search results appearing at the top of the page. By default, only pages that include all of your search terms are returned. So to broaden or restrict the search, include fewer or more terms. You do not need to include "and" between the terms.
- Phrase Search: Search for exact phrases by enclosing them in quotation marks. ("employer id number")
- Capitalization: IRS.gov searches are not case sensitive. All letters, regardless of how you enter them, are handled as lower case. For example, “employer id number,” “employer ID number,” and “Employer ID Number” return the same results.
- Effective Search Terms: Specific words and multiple search terms may help refine your search and provide more valuable results than general or single search terms. When searching for forms or publications, do not include the year. By default, forms and publications returned in search results are the most current. If you are looking for forms or publications from an earlier year, visit the Prior Year tab on our Forms & Publications page.
Search Results Page
- Top Recommendations: These recommendations are based on IRS analysis of frequently searched keywords and other terms. They provide relevant information for common search terms. Recommended results are separated and indented for your quick reference.
- Search Results: By default, the list of search results is sorted by relevance, and each retrieved document includes a title and passage-based summary that shows you how each result is relevant to your search term. In addition, hit highlighting bolds your search terms in each summary, immediately bringing those words to your attention. Each search listing includes the URL or location of the document and date the content was last updated. Click on the title to go to the page or file of your choice.
- Sorting Results: By default, search results are sorted by relevance, with the most relevant result appearing at the top of the page. If you want to sort the documents by date instead, click the Sort by Date link. The most recent document appears at the top of the page and the date of each file is returned in the results.
- Related Forms & Instructions and Publications: Forms & Instructions and Publications related to your search term are shown in boxes on the right side of the page.
- Find Results: The four search boxes on the IRS Legacy Search page offer the same functionality as the Basic Search, but provide additional options for refining your search and improving the relevance of your search results. Using these fields, you can choose to limit your results to IRS.gov web content that includes or excludes words or phrases from the body or title. You may enter terms in more than one search box to further narrow your result set.
- File Format: You can use the file format options to return a specific type of file, such as PDF, or to exclude a file type. For example, if you are looking for a publication in PDF format, select PDF from the dropdown. The default allows you to view all file formats.
- Occurrences: You can search for your search terms anywhere in the page, in the title, or in the page URL. The default is to search anywhere in the page.
- Sort: Sort your search results by relevance or by date.
- Results per page: Select the number of results per page, from 10 to 100.
- Limit Search To: Use the dropdown to limit search results to a specific area of the website. For example, if searching for an Internal Revenue Bulletin, select “Internal Revenue Bulletins” from the dropdown, and only Internal Revenue Bulletins matching your search term(s) appear in the search results. If searching for information relating to tax professionals, select "Tax Professionals" from the dropdown.
Page Last Reviewed or Updated: 11-Apr-2017