Avoid Long Lines and Hold Times, Use Online Tools for Tax Help

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IR-2015-67, April 8, 2015

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service is warning of possible long lines at some of the largest Taxpayers Assistance Centers across the country and long hold times on the phone.  As the tax filing deadline fast approaches, when possible, the IRS recommends taxpayers take advantage of the numerous online tools for fast, easy service. 

Tens of millions of Americans are still planning to file their taxes by the April 15 deadline.

Because limited resources have impacted some IRS services, the IRS reminds taxpayers that they can get answers to many of their tax questions, tax forms and publications and much more by visiting IRS.gov. Often taxpayers may find it more convenient to visit IRS.gov to get the tax help they need.

 “We are doing everything we can to help taxpayers get the assistance they need during the filing season, yet, many still face long waits" said IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. “If taxpayers can find answers quickly online, it is a win for both the taxpayer and the agency. We don’t want anyone waiting needlessly when there are other resources at their fingertips.”

The IRS has also seen an increase in demand at Taxpayer Assistance Centers for transcript services, for non-cash payments or for help with collection services even though there are options online.

The IRS website has many tools and services that make getting IRS help a quick click away:

Get a tax transcript. You may need a tax transcript for a variety of reasons including if you apply for a loan or student financial aid, information needed for state or local tax filing purposes, or even for medical, housing or utility social services. Visit IRS.gov and use the Get Transcript tool.

Try IRS Direct Pay. If you owe taxes, pay with IRS Direct Pay. It’s a safe, easy and free way to pay from your checking or savings account. Go to IRS.gov/directpay to pay your federal tax bill. 

Apply for an IRS payment plan. If you can’t pay all your taxes at once, apply for an IRS Online Payment Agreement. A direct debit payment plan is a great way to pay. It has a lower set-up fee, you won’t miss a payment and you won’t get an IRS reminder to send a check each month.

Check on your refund. The Where’s My Refund? tool is a fast and easy way to check on your tax refund. Use the IRS2Go mobile app to access the tool, or click on the ‘Refunds’ tab on IRS.gov.

Use IRS Free File. If you need to file your tax return, you can e-file for free by using IRS Free File. If you earned $60,000 or less you can prepare and e-file your taxes using free brand name tax software. If you made more, you can use Free File Fillable Forms. This option is the electronic version of IRS paper forms.  You can also use Free File to file for an extension.

Get answers to tax questions. The Interactive Tax Assistant covers many common tax topics. Type in your question or search terms and it can lead you step-by-step to the answer. The IRS Tax Map gives you a list of tax law subjects to select. It integrates tax topics, forms, instructions and publications into one research tool.

Get health care tax information. IRS.gov has information about the Affordable Care Act at IRS.gov/aca. You can visit this site for details on how the health care law affects your taxes. For example, the pages provide information about:

  • Reporting health insurance coverage.
  • Claiming an exemption from the coverage requirement.
  • Making an individual shared responsibility payment.
  • Claiming the premium tax credit.
  • Reconciling advance payments of the premium tax credit.

You can also use the Interactive Tax Assistant tool for help on how some of these laws apply to your situation.

Check out a charity. You must donate to a qualified charity if you want to deduct the donation on your tax return. Use the IRS Select Check tool to see if a charity is qualified.

Get forms and publications. View, download and print federal tax forms and publications anytime.

Calculate your tax withholding. If you get a larger refund or owe more taxes than you expect when you file your tax return, you may need to change your tax withholding. You can complete and give your employer a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate. Use the IRS Withholding Calculator tool to help you fill out a new form.

Some taxpayers are currently visiting a TAC as a result of having received a letter 5071C from the IRS to verify their identities. Taxpayers are encouraged to go through the identity verification process by accessing idverify.irs.gov. The website will ask a series of questions that only the legitimate taxpayer can answer. Because of the high-volume on the toll-free numbers, the IRS-sponsored website, idverify.irs.gov, is the safest, fastest option for taxpayers with web access.

The IRS offers multilingual services to taxpayers in more than 150 languages through bilingual employees or an Over-the-Phone Interpreter.

Most TACs operate on a first-come, first-served basis, but some TACs now require an appointment. Taxpayers should always check IRS.gov for days and hours of service as well as services offered at the location they plan to visit. For information on how to make an appointment, please visit the contact my local office page on IRS.gov.

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