Need tax help this year? The Internal Revenue Service reminds taxpayers that its website, IRS.gov, continues to be the first and best place for people seeking information and assistance on their federal taxes.
It is available 24 hours a day from the comfort of home, on a desktop, or from just about anywhere with a mobile device.
The array of online tools and resources available at IRS.gov range from tax preparation and refund tracking to research tools like the Interactive Tax Assistant and answers for Frequently Asked Questions on many subjects, according to an IRS press release.
View Tax Account Online
Taxpayers can use their online accounts to securely see important information when preparing to file their tax returns or following up on balances or notices. This includes:
Adjusted Gross Income: This can be useful if using different tax software or tax preparer this year.
Economic Impact Payment amounts: Eligible individuals who did not receive the full amounts of both Economic Impact Payments may claim the Recovery Rebate Credit on their 2020 federal tax return. To claim the full amount, taxpayers will need to know the amounts of the Economic Impact Payments received. These amounts can be found on the Tax Records tab in an online account.
Estimated tax payment amounts: The total of any estimated tax payments made during the year or refunds applied as credit can be found on the Account Balance tab in an online account, and a record of each payment appears under Payment Activity.
Additionally, taxpayers can view:
The amount owed for any past years, updated for the current calendar day
Payment history and any scheduled or pending payments
Payment plan details
Digital copies of select notices from the IRS
Get a tax return transcript
The Get Transcript tool is free and also accessible through an online account. It allows taxpayers to view, print, or download their tax transcripts after the IRS has processed the return. A tax return transcript shows most line items from an original tax return, along with any forms and schedules, but no changes were made after it was filed.
Get an Identity Protection PIN
An Identity Protection PIN (IP PIN) is a six-digit number that prevents someone from filing a tax return using another taxpayer’s Social Security number. The IP PIN is known only to the real taxpayer and the IRS and helps the IRS verify the taxpayer’s identity when they file their electronic or paper tax return. Starting in 2021, any taxpayer who can verify his or her identity can voluntarily opt into the IP PIN program. See Get an IP PIN for details and to access the online tool. There are options for those who cannot verify their identities online.
Locate Local Free Tax Preparation
The IRS’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program has operated for over 50 years. It offers free basic tax return preparation to qualified individuals:
People who generally make $57,000 or less
People with disabilities
Limited English-speaking taxpayers
The Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) program also offers free tax help for taxpayers, particularly those age 60 and older. The VITA/TCE Site Locator can help eligible taxpayers find the nearest community-based site staffed by IRS-trained and certified volunteers. Please note that some VITA/TCE sites are not operating at full capacity this year and others are not opening. Demand is high for this service so taxpayers may experience longer wait times for appointments. Taxpayers can use the locator tool to find an available site near them. It is updated throughout the tax season, so individuals should check back if they don’t see a nearby site listed, the news release added.
DIY Tax Preparation for Free
The IRS Free File program offers 70% of all taxpayers the choice of nine brand-name tax preparation software packages to use at no cost. Those who earned less than $72,000 in 2020 can choose which package is best for them. Some even offer free state tax return preparation.
Those who earned more than $72,000 in 2020 and are comfortable preparing their own taxes can use Free File Fillable Forms. This electronic version of paper IRS tax forms can also be used to file tax returns online.
Free File is available only through IRS.gov. Read more about the Free File program in this week’s A Closer Look.
Find a Local Tax Professional
The searchable directory on IRS.gov can help 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.
Most tax return preparers provide outstanding and professional service. However, each year, some taxpayers are hurt financially because they choose the wrong tax return preparer. Be sure to check our tips for choosing a tax preparer and how to avoid unethical “ghost” return preparers.
Track Refunds with ‘Where’s My Refund?’
Taxpayers can easily find the most up-to-date information about their tax refund using the “Where’s My Refund?” tool on IRS.gov and the official IRS mobile app, IRS2Go. Within 24 hours after the IRS acknowledges receipt of an e-filed return, or four weeks after a paper return is mailed, taxpayers can start checking on the status of their refund.
Make a Tax Payment
Taxpayers can visit the “Pay” tab on IRS.gov to see their payment options. Most tax software products give taxpayers various payment options, including the option to schedule payment from a bank account when filing their returns.
IRS Direct Pay offers taxpayers a free, fast, secure, and easy way to make an electronic payment from their bank account to the U.S. Treasury. Other ways to pay include:
Electronic Funds Withdrawal (during e-filing)
Credit or debit card
Check or money order
Cash at a participating retail store
Make a plan to pay
Taxpayers can meet their tax obligation in monthly installments by applying for a payment plan. Most can be set up on IRS.gov/paymentplan or through an online account in a matter of minutes. Setup fees may apply for some types of plans. Options include a full-pay agreement, a short-term plan of up to 120 days, or a long-term monthly payment plan (installment agreement). The amount a taxpayer owes and their tax-filing compliance determines which payment plan options may be available.
Other options available may include an offer in compromise — a way for a taxpayer to settle their tax debt for less than the full amount — or requesting the IRS to temporarily delay collection until the taxpayer’s financial situation improves.
The IRS2Go App Offers Great Features
Refund Status: Check the status of an income tax refund within 24 hours after the IRS receives the e-filed return, or about four weeks after mailing a paper return.
Make a Payment: Get easy access to mobile-friendly payment options like IRS Direct Pay, offering a free, secure way to pay directly from a bank account.
Free Tax Help: Directly access Free File tax software from a mobile device to quickly prepare and file taxes or find a VITA or TCE site nearby.
Stay Connected: Follow IRS on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, watch helpful videos on YouTube, subscribe to receive IRS Tax Tips, and more.
Security Code: IRS2Go can generate login security codes for certain IRS online services, allowing the retrieval of codes through IRS2Go instead of using text messages. For more information, visit the Secure Access page.
The Tax Time Guide is series of news releases designed to help taxpayers get the information they need to file an accurate tax return. Additional help is available in Publication 17, Your Federal Income Tax, on IRS.gov.