IRS Offers Self-Help Tax Tools

Notice: Historical Content

This is an archival or historical document and may not reflect current law, policies or procedures.

IRS Summertime Tax Tip 2017-17, August 9, 2017

Want to know how to file a tax return for free or the fastest way to check on a refund? Finding answers to those and other tax questions is only a few key strokes away. Millions of taxpayers use these free self-help tools on to find what they need.

Some of the most popular IRS tools are:

  • IRS Free File. Use IRS Free File to prepare and e-file a federal tax return using brand-name commercial tax software at no cost for anyone with income below $64,000. For those who haven’t filed yet, Free File is available through Oct. 17 to file a 2016 tax return. IRS Free File is only available through
  • “Where’s My Refund?” Use “Where's My Refund?” at or the IRS2Go mobile app to check the status of a refund within 24 hours after the IRS receives the e-filed return or four weeks after a mailed paper return. The IRS2Go app is free and available on Google Play, the Apple App Store or Amazon.
  • Paying a Tax Bill. IRS Direct Pay is the safe, easy and free way to pay taxes or estimated tax directly from a checking or savings account. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on to find out. The Direct Pay tool has five simple steps to pay in a single online session and is also available with the IRS2Go mobile app.
  • Tax Account Online. With this tool, taxpayers can view their federal tax account balance, select IRS Direct Pay, debit or credit card or apply for an installment agreement. They can also access the Get Transcript tool to view, print or download tax records. Before accessing their tax account online, taxpayers must authenticate their identity through the Secure Access process. Taxpayers who already have a user name and password from Secure Access for their tax account, Get Transcript Online or Identity Protection PIN, may use the same username and password.
  • Online Payment Agreement. Taxpayers who can’t pay their taxes in full can apply for an Online Payment Agreement. Using the Direct Debit payment plan option is a lower-cost, hassle-free way to make monthly payments.
  • Withholding Calculator. Want to avoid having too much or too little federal income tax withheld in 2017? The Withholding Calculator tool helps calculate the best way to do it. Then complete a new Form W-4, Employee's Withholding Allowance Certificate, to make the change.
  • Interactive Tax Assistant. Find reliable answers to tax questions with the Interactive Tax Assistant on This tax law resource asks a series of questions and immediately provides answers for you on a variety of tax law topics, including general filing questions, deductions, credits and income. Find out who can deduct student loan interest or may be eligible to claim an education credit.
  • IRS Select Check. Is a charity real or a fake? Does a donation to an Exempt Organization qualify as a deduction? Use the IRS Select Check tool to search for and verify a charity’s status including links to check certain information about each organization’s federal tax status and filings.
  • Tax Map. The IRS Tax Map integrates web links, tax forms, instructions and publications into one search result. Taxpayers can quickly find forms, publications, frequently asked questions and news by topic.
  • Sales Tax Deduction Calculator. Taxpayers who itemize can claim either state and local income taxes or state and local sales taxes (but not both). The Sales Tax Calculator also has overseas U.S. Military Zones and Districts where members of U.S. Military pay no sales tax. Military personnel deployed overseas can use the calculator to determine the sales tax they paid while they were within the United States.

Avoid scams. The IRS does not initiate contact using social media or text message. The first contact normally comes in the mail. Those wondering if they owe money to the IRS can view their tax account information on to find out.

Additional Resources:

  • Tax Topic 152, Refund Information
  • Tax Topic 161, Returning an Erroneous Refund – Paper Check or Direct Deposit
  • Tax Topic 203, Refund Offsets for Unpaid Child Support, Certain Federal and State Debts, and Unemployment Compensation Debts
  •, Tools

IRS You Tube Videos:

  • IRS2Go Mobile App – English | Spanish | ASL (Obsolete)
  • Interactive Tax Assistant – English | ASL (Obsolete)