Guest Post: How to Obtain Free Tax Help from the IRS

This post comes from Michael, chief editor of DoughRoller.net, helping consumers figure out if political contributions are tax deductible.

Very few people ever put the IRS and the word “helpful” in the same sentence; but believe it or not, the IRS provides a number of free tax assistance services to income tax filers by phone, fax, and in person. The IRS assists taxpayers in their search for forms, publications, and answers to questions. The IRS can also help those who qualify find free tax return preparation services.

We’ve found more than a handful of ways the IRS is willing to assist you this tax season.

Personal computer

Those taxpayers with a personal computer can access a wealth of free income tax information at the IRS website. One section of the website, 1040 central, contains all the information tax filers need to file their tax returns. Taxpayers can access any tax forms, instructions, or publications as well as information on completing online taxes. The site also contains pages with answers to frequently asked questions, and information about the earned income tax credit.

In addition, filers can also check the status of a return using IRS.gov’s “Where’s my refund?” tool. To use this tool, you’ll need your social security number, filing status, and the amount of the refund on your 2009 tax return.

Telephone

Filers can also order tax forms by calling 1-800-TAX-FORM. Filers can also ask tax questions by calling 1-800-829-1040.

TeleTax

This IRS toll-free number contains pre-recorded answers to tax questions: 800-829-4477. Taxpayers can also check the status of a return by calling this number. The full range of questions answered at the TeleTax number are listed on pages eight and nine of the instructions for Form 1040.

Tax forms and publications walk-in service

Many post offices, libraries, and IRS offices have forms available for pick up. To find a location near you, check IRS.gov’s “Contact My Local Office” page.

Taxpayer assistance centers

IRS taxpayer assistance centers are your go-to locations for individual, face-to-face tax help. Taxpayers with complex filing situations, tax problems to resolve, and those who are just more comfortable speaking face-to-face are encouraged to visit a center. IRS staff in these offices can help with inquiries, as well as adjustments to tax accounts and payment plans for those who owe tax and are unable to pay the full amount due. They can also help with questions regarding IRS letters and notices, and levies placed on wages or bank accounts. Appointments are not necessary, but available. Centers also make their hours available on recorded messages. Taxpayers who do not speak English will be provided assistance via a phone interpreter.

Filing assistance

The IRS helps make free preparation services available through its Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. Volunteers help filers with low or limited incomes and simple tax situations. To find the VITA or TCE program office nearest to you, call 1-800-829-1040.

Braille tax material

Taxpayers may order Braille tax materials at no charge by calling 1-800-829-3676. Files come in .brf format that can be sent to an embosser to be made into hard-copy Braille materials.

Those are the most widely used IRS tax services. The IRS also provides a publication, Publication 910 that contains a comprehensive listing of all free services. Remember, if you have any questions about your return, it’s best to ask the IRS or a trained tax pro. When it comes to your tax return, better safe than sorry!

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