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Tax Time Guide: Make IRS.gov first stop to get quick answers to tax questions

IR-2018-76, March 27, 2018

WASHINGTON — With the April 17 tax deadline fast approaching, taxpayers can find most answers to their tax questions by taking advantage of the wide variety of easy-to-use online tools available on IRS.gov.

This is the eighth in a series of nine IRS news releases called the Tax Time Guide, designed to help taxpayers navigate common tax issues.

Already this year, visits to IRS.gov have jumped 21 percent over the same time last year. Join the millions of taxpayers who have discovered that the agency’s website offers the fastest way to get last-minute tax help. By taking advantage of the many online tools, taxpayers can quickly check the status of their tax refund, get answers to tax questions or prepare and file their taxes around the clock.

Taxpayers get the same answers on IRS.gov as if they’d called and spoken with an IRS representative, and they can print out the answers to keep for reference and their records. IRS information and many tools are also available in Spanish.

Below are some of the most common tax queries and the tools to find answers:

Where’s my refund?

By using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool available on IRS.gov and on the official IRS mobile app, IRS2Go, taxpayers can easily find the most up-to-date information about their tax refund. Taxpayers can start checking on the status of their return within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of a taxpayer’s e-filed return or four weeks after the taxpayer mailed in a paper return. The system is updated daily, so there’s no need to check more often.

Free help preparing a tax return.

Through the Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (VITA/TCE) programs, eligible taxpayers can get free, local, one-on-one help to prepare and file their taxes. The several thousand community-based sites are staffed by IRS trained and certified volunteers. Low- and moderate-income taxpayers and those age 60 and above can find the nearest site on IRS.gov’s VITA/TCE Site Locator.

Do it yourself for free.

Taxpayers that prefer to do their own taxes can find free tax preparation help on IRS.gov. The IRS Free File program, available only through IRS.gov, offers 12 brand-name tax preparation software packages for free to the 70 percent of taxpayers who earned $66,000 or less in 2017. The software does all the work of finding deductions, credits and exemptions for which the taxpayer qualifies. Taxpayers who earned more than $66,000 in 2017 and are comfortable preparing their own taxes can use Free File Fillable Forms. This electronic version of paper IRS tax forms is also used to file tax returns online.

Searching for a tax professional?

The searchable directory on IRS.gov helps taxpayers find a tax professional in their area. The list can be sorted by credentials and qualifications. Tax return preparers have differing levels of skills, education and expertise, so taxpayers should choose wisely and keep in mind that the taxpayer is ultimately responsible for the accuracy of their return.

Getting a tax return transcript?

Those who need a copy of their tax return can use the online tool, Get Transcript. It’s free and available on IRS.gov. Taxpayers can view, print or download their tax transcripts for the most current tax year after the IRS has processed the tax return.

Instant answers to tax law questions.

Many tax law questions can be answered quickly when using any of several tools on IRS.gov:

Need to make a payment?

IRS Direct Pay offers taxpayers the fastest and easiest way to pay what they owe. This free online system allows individuals to securely pay their tax bills or make quarterly estimated tax payments directly from checking or savings accounts without fees or pre-registration. See IRS.gov/Payments for information on this and other payment options.

Can’t pay a tax bill?

For taxpayers concerned about a tax bill they can’t pay, the Online Payment Agreement tool can help determine if they qualify for a payment plan with the IRS.

The Offer in Compromise Pre-Qualifier can help determine if a taxpayer qualifies for an Offer in Compromise. An Offer in Compromise is an agreement with the IRS that settles a person’s tax liability for less than the full amount owed.

Questions about an amended return?

The “Where’s My Amended Return?” tool provides the status of an amended tax return, Form 1040X. Taxpayers can check on the current year 1040X and up to three prior years. Allow up to three weeks after filing to check on the initial status, and up to 16 weeks for processing.

Taxpayers can find answers to questions, forms and instructions and easy-to-use tools online at IRS.gov 24 hours a day, seven days a week. No appointments required and no waiting on hold.