How to Get Help From the IRS

For such a huge bureaucracy, the IRS offers a surprising array of help resources.

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Do you need help with your taxes, but don't want to pay for it? The IRS has several ways you can get answers to your tax questions for free.

Use the IRS Website

First, the IRS has a marvelous website, jam-packed with tax information. This includes all the IRS forms and publications, hundreds of articles, tips, and FAQs on tax topics, and tax news. If you can't get your answer here, it may not exist.

You can always use the IRS website search function to find the information you need. However, the IRS also has an Interactive Tax Assistant tool you can use to find answers to your questions about tax credits and deductions. This tool utilizes an interview format to provide answers to your basic tax questions.

Phone the IRS

If you want personal assistance, you can phone the IRS. However, the IRS's help lines can be busy and it may take time to get through. You may ask questions to help you prepare your tax return, or ask about a notice you have received. Be aware, however, that studies have shown that IRS personnel don't always give correct answers on the phone.

Individuals may call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-1040 during Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., your local time (Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).

Businesses may call the IRS toll-free at 800-829-4933 Monday through Friday from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m., your local time (Alaska & Hawaii follow Pacific Time).

Visit an IRS Office Taxpayer Assistance Center

If neither the web nor the phone work for you, you can get face-to-face help by visiting an IRS office that has an IRS Taxpayer Assistance Center. You can use the IRS's online Taxpayer Assistance Center Locator to find the center nearest to you.

Note that you may be asked to provide valid photo identification and a Taxpayer Identification Number, such as a Social Security Number, to receive services.

Free Tax Help From Volunteers

The IRS also offers free in-person tax help for lower-income and elderly taxpayers through its Volunteers Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. These volunteers not only answer your questions, they will help you prepare your tax return. In addition to traditional face-to-face tax preparation, the IRS is offering a self-assistance service at many VITA and TCE locations. These programs operate between January and April 15 each year.

Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)

The VITA Program offers free tax help from IRS-certified volunteers. These are not IRS employees, but they do receive training from the IRS on how to prepare basic income tax returns. The VITA volunteers can also provide information about special tax credits, such as Earned Income Tax Credit, Child Tax Credit, and Credit for the Elderly or the Disabled.

There are thousands of VITA sites located at community and neighborhood centers, libraries, schools, shopping malls, and other locations. To find a site, use the online the VITA Locator Tool or call 1-800-906-9887.

Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) Program

The TCE Program offers help primarily to people age 60 and over (although they will help younger folks too). IRS-certified TCE volunteers specialize in answering questions about pensions and retirement issues unique to seniors. A majority of the TCE sites are operated by the AARP Foundation’s Tax Aide Program. To locate the nearest TCE site or AARP Tax-Aide site between January and April use the AARP Site Locator Tool or call 888-227-7669.


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